If you’re intentionally making deceptive sites, beware – such methods are frowned upon by the search giants.

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines page outlines their qualifications for making a quality site as follows:

  • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
  • Don’t deceive your users.
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
  • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

They also state that “Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit.”

However, there’s been a trend lately that seems to ignore these guidelines and Google’s warnings that deceptive practices won’t be appreciated – and will likely be penalized.

deceptive sites, search results

An example of what the fake search results may look like.

Some sites have altered user’s browser history, inserting sites that look like a page of results for whatever the user may have been searching for, but with one key difference.  All the search results on these pages are, in fact, ads.

After receiving several complaints about this type of underhanded strategy, Google responded on their official blog.  They first posted a reminder of their official guidelines, and their mission to help users find quality sites.  Then they warned that, should these deceptive sites continue in these practices, there would be consequences.

The Google blog warns that they will take action, “including removal of…sites which violate our quality guidelines.”  And messing around with users’ browser histories is one sure way to violate those guidelines.

So play it safe and play it smart – improve your search engine standings through honest means rather than playing with fire.