We can say with confidence, that for as long as the internet has existed, there have been people out there trying to use it to their advantage. From pretty much day one people have been trying to get the better of search engines in an aid to rank more highly in the search engine ranking page results. Look at any SEO site audit and you will find sections devoted to negative practices which search engines are likely to look down upon. As we all know, Google lists a significant amount within their Webmaster Guidelines. From their guidelines, you can actually follow a link, which takes you to a page which sees Google suggesting that we all be wary of:
1. Using white text on a white background
2. Locating text behind an image
3. Using CSS to position our text off the screen
4. Disguising a link by just linking a single character, such as a full stop in the middle of a paragraph.
Remarkably, the examples we have just listed are remarkably similar to some examples that have been listed in a patent which has been granted to Google at the USPTO which is listed as follows:
Systems and methods for detecting hidden text and hidden links – Invented by Fritz Schneider and Matt Cutts Assigned to Google US Patent 8,392,823 Granted March 5, 2013, Filed August 25 2009
“A System detects elements in a document that may identify each of the elements in the document and create a structural representation of the document.
The structural representation may provide an interconnection of the group of elements in the document. The system may also determine whether one or more elements of the group of elements are hidden based at least in part on locations or other attributes or properties of the one or more elements in the structural representation. “
There is of course no surprise to see Matt Cutts’ name spring up, given that he has been at the forefront of exploring the different ways in which people are able to spam and exploit Google’s famous search engine.
It’s great to see a patent like this crop up. Why? Simply because it provides a reference point that can be shown to people who think that getting one over Google is all too easy! It shows that they are working towards a search engine that is rewarding the people who are trying to provide something good, wholesome and worthy of the attention of people searching on the net. It’s very rare that someone is actually searching for a site which offers almost no merit whatsoever, but unfortunately, people often find themselves at these very sites, simply because of the ability of people to spam their way to the top of the search rankings.
Thankfully, it gets harder and harder to do. More often than not, you see the most relevant results sitting at the top of the search tree. The job of the small online business may get harder in some respects, but you can at least rest assured that if you are truly focusing on your own target market, and you have a good SEO team who know how to point you in the right direction by providing great quality content for your customers and by making sure your site is well put together.
When Google is investing time and money into patents which help to crack down on spam and bad links, it’s fair to say that the internet is moving in the right direction. It tells you that if your site is relevant, and you have a SEO team behind you who can help you to reach the right people, then you have every chance of success.