Googlebot Gets Smarter

Multiple reports from the SEO blogosphere (Ekstreme, Cre8asite) report that the Google spider is starting to slurp external CSS and javascript files to cut down on "black hat SEO tricks". Hurrah! It seems the Disney blog was among those that got dinged for having invisible text, getting delisted from Google on Friday January 5th. But being Disney has its advantages -- Matt Cutts himself showed up the next day, Saturday, to give help and offer a reinclusion request. Marketing take-aways:
  • Long term, "white hat" SEO will win. That means: content, links, writing, brand, and clean markup will win. Google has the resources to stamp down black-hat SEO tricks, and they will.
  • Google continues to improve their technology, relentlessly, on both the paid and organic side.
  • Google is responsive to Big Brands. Yes, these are the folks with the largest Adwords spends, true. But the Bid Brands also have the sites that most web users want to reach, so making sure they're in the Google index correctly is an important aspect to usability.
  • Google couldn't reach Disney to discuss this problem, and so acted unilaterally a week later. (Quoting from Matt's comment: "We tried to email you; sorry if the emails didn't reach you. We're looking for ways to improve our communication more this year e.g. via Google's webmaster console . I'll include the email that we sent to contact@, info@, support@, and webmaster@ your domain on 12/29/2006 at 10:11:31".) Question: can Google reach you? Make sure you have good contact info in the webmaster console, and have a real human keep an eye on "contact@yourbrand.com" and "webmaster@yourbrand.com".
  • Big Brands: use reputable SEO practices, whether in-house or through a reputable agency. Don't, don't, three-times-repeat don't resort to games that can tarnish your brand. And if you encounter difficulty, reach out to Google, if need be through your paid ad reps -- they do want their engine to do the right thing, and they will help if they can.
All good news to large, reputable advertisers. Glad to see Google continues to head in the right direction on these issues. Update: Missed it on first reading -- this isn't Disney's blog, it is a fan blog: "The Disney Blog and The Disney Blog: Kid's World are not affiliated with The Walt Disney Company in any way." So these folks aren't massive Adwords spenders -- makes Matt's reach-out even more impressive, in my opinion!
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