Digital Marketing News Round Up: Cutts on Auto-Generated Spam and Nofollow Links, Automatic Authorship and Google Indexes Pages Through URL Citations

Written by Intern - 27 Sep 2013

Want to know what Google’s been up to over the past week? This edition of the digital marketing news round up is for you. We’ve got everything from nofollow links to Authorship covered. Read on to find out more.

Found some auto-generated spam? Let Google know

In the latest video from head of Google’s Webspam team, Matt Cutts, he discusses the frustrating spam tactic of auto-generated content:

So what is auto-generated content? In this context, an example of auto-generated content would be a user searching for ‘bacon recipes’ , choosing a page from the SERPs and then being presented with a page that says “no bacon recipes found”, and features a load of adverts. Another example Cutts’ uses is when users search for laptop reviews, and they find a page that simply says “no reviews found”.

When asked whether Google takes any action on this type of content, Cutts confirms that the search giant makes efforts to remove these types of pages from the index, as they offer an incredibly poor user experience. However, auto-generated content pages can slip through the net, especially as more and more are being created.

So what can users do to eradicate the web of auto-generated spam? If you come across any low quality auto-generated pages, you should report them using the spam report form, which can be found here.

Can nofollow links hurt my site? Cutts says “no”

In another Google Webmaster Help video, when asked if building nofollow links to a site to help generate direct traffic (rather than for search visibility purposes) will hurt said site, Cutts’ response is a succinct “no”.

Of course, there’s a caveat. If you’re seen to be spamming, then you can expect a penalty to come your way. Cutts says that in extreme cases, for example: comment-spamming on a huge scale, Google will step in and give out a manual penalty.

Cutts uses the example of a commenter on technology blog, TechCrunch, called “Anon.TC”, who would make an irrelevant comment on anything popular, purely to drive traffic to whatever site he was promoting at the time.

Automatic Google Authorship when signed in

Google is currently trialling a new and easy way to add Google Authorship to your content through WordPress and Typepad.

Simply by syncing your account with your Google+ account, any articles you publish will automatically be associated with your Google+ profile, allowing for easier inclusion of your details as rich snippet data in Google’s search results.

Google Authorship SERP screenshot

Currently, this is only available for WordPress and Typepad users, but Google is working on the functionality for other sites, including WikiHow and

Want to know more about Google Authorship? Check out the latest posts from our Social Media Strategist Susie Cox: Can Changing Your Profile Picture Manipulate Google Authorship?

Google indexes pages through URL citations

During a question and answer session, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, confirmed that when Google crawls a page and discovers an unlinked URL (otherwise known as a URL citation), it will follow that URL to see if it is worth indexing.

Google Webmaster Central hangout screenshot

Mueller goes on to say that although Google will try to crawl the unlinked URL, there won’t be any PageRank passed to the URL:

“We use those kinds of links to try to discover new content. So, for instance, if we see that someone has been writing about a new domain name and we can recognise that as a domain name in the text, even without a normal HTML link there, then that is something where we will try to pick that domain name up, try to crawl it and index it and see if that is something worth including in our search results.

“Sometimes it happens that we pick up a whole URL like that. Sometimes someone will try to shorten a URL with just a ‘…’ in between and we try to crawl that URL, so we get it wrong. But our goal here isn’t necessarily to pass any PageRank, which we don’t do with those kinds of links. But rather to discover new URLs that we haven’t seen before, and if we see someone write about a URL that we haven’t seen before we will pick that up and try to index that for search.”

For more information, watch the video on YouTube.

And that’s it for this week’s news! Don’t forget to check back same time next week for the latest instalment.

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