Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Matt Cutts Video: How Google Determines What’s A Paid Link

Google head of search spam Matt Cutts released a pretty detailed video discussing the Google webspam team’s criteria for determining whether a link is considered a paid link or not.
There are five basic criteria Google uses in this determination. The first is the most obvious, is the link an explicit link for sale; then, the others are less obvious. The others include: how close is the value to money, is it a gift or a loan, what is the intent of the audience and is it a surprise or not.

Explicit Link Sales

Links that are explicitly sold for money are the most obvious. A webmaster sells a link to another webmaster in exchange for a certain dollar payment. That is clearly a paid link, and Matt Cutts said that is the most common paid link example, by far.

Close To The Value Of Money

The next determination Google uses is to see how close is the value to money. For example, a gift card is pretty close to money in that it can be often exchanged for a dollar value. But if you give someone a free pen that is valued at $1, the chances are that the value of that $1 pen won’t influence the user. However, a free beer or free trial to software is less value to users than a $600 gift card.

Gift Vs. Loan

If you give someone a laptop versus loaning them a laptop or gift someone a car versus loaning them a car, those are huge distinctions. Often, companies will loan a tech reviewer a device or car or something in order for them to properly review the item. But if you give them the item forever and not ask them to return it, that is closer to a paid link then a loan.

A new Googlebot user-agent for crawling smartphone content

Webmaster level: Advanced
Over the years, Google has used different crawlers to crawl and index content for feature phones and smartphones. These mobile-specific crawlers have all been referred to as Googlebot-Mobile. However, feature phones and smartphones have considerably different device capabilities, and we've seen cases where a webmaster inadvertently blocked smartphone crawling or indexing when they really meant to block just feature phone crawling or indexing. This ambiguity made it impossible for Google to index smartphone content of some sites, or for Google to recognize that these sites are smartphone-optimized.

A new Googlebot for smartphones

To clarify the situation and to give webmasters greater control, we'll be retiring "Googlebot-Mobile" for smartphones as a user agent starting in 3-4 weeks' time. From then on, the user-agent for smartphones will identify itself simply as "Googlebot" but will still list "mobile" elsewhere in the user-agent string. Here are the new and old user-agents:
The new Googlebot for smartphones user-agent:
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A5376e Safari/8536.25 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)
The Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones user-agent we will be retiring soon:
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A5376e Safari/8536.25 (compatible; Googlebot-Mobile/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)
This change affects only Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones. The user-agent of the regular Googlebot does not change, and the remaining two Googlebot-Mobile crawlers will continue to refer to feature phone devices in their user-agent strings; for reference, these are:
Regular Googlebot user-agent:
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)
The two Googlebot-Mobile user-agents for feature phones:
  • SAMSUNG-SGH-E250/1.0 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 UP.Browser/ (GUI) MMP/2.0 (compatible; Googlebot-Mobile/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)
  • DoCoMo/2.0 N905i(c100;TB;W24H16) (compatible; Googlebot-Mobile/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)