Quality Issues and Content Hijacking Messages

SEOs around the world have been following DEJANSEO’s recent hijacking experiments. Some may have been tempted to try the content scraping technique for themselves, perhaps with a meta refresh or javascript location switch, in order to send a visitor to the preferred target. Hijacking has been around for years, however this technique exposed interesting side benefits and insights available through webmaster tools:

However, it seems Google has caught up with the content scraper hijack today (Saturday 17th November 2012):

http://dejanseo.com.au/google-against-content-scrapers/

and issued DejanSEO with a warning message.

Quality issues message from Google Webmaster tools

The red circle highlights the crux of DejanSEO’s hijacking test. Content from the target was copied verbatim to a new domain, then that new domain was given an authority link (in order to give it higher page rank than the source) and thereby displace the original source in SERPs. The really interesting effect of the hijacking was that it also gave visibility (through Webmaster Tools) of the backlinks to the original source page – very handy as an additional source alongside MajesticSEO, ahrefs, Blekko et al.

Quality Issues Message in Webmaster Tools – Copied Content

On average (according to Matt Cutts), only about 10 sites a day are sent unnatural links warnings (July 27th 2012). So I’d suspect even fewer can expect to receive the low quality issue message specifically mentioning copied content. It may be that DejanSEO raised awareness to the extent that he has received a personal message from Google…

Please comment on this post if you have seen or received a message worded in exactly the same way from the Google Search Quality Team as the one shown above. It’d be interesting to gauge the extent of these messages.

Quality Messages from Google – Hidden Text

The evolution of warning messages is fascinating. When hidden text was the ranking technique of choice up until July 2007, Google’s first messages to be delivered in Wemaster Tools looked like this:

Quality issues message for hidden text in 2007
Back in 2007 – Hidden text warnings

Notice that Google is very open about the impact of using hidden text – stating removal from search results for at least 30 days. Google is less open now about the penalties applied to sites and pages found in violation of the guidelines. So SEOs must use knowledge and experience.

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