Quality guidelines - basic principles
- Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as "cloaking."
- 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. Another useful test is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"
- Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or "bad neighborhoods" on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.
- Don't use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.
Quality guidelines - specific guidelines
- Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
- Don't employ cloaking or sneaky redirects.
- Don't send automated queries to Google.
- Don't load pages with irrelevant words.
- Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
- Don't create pages that install viruses, trojans, or other href="http://www.stopbadware.org/">badware.
- Avoid "doorway" pages created just for search engines, or other "cookie cutter" approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
- If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.
Here's where it gets "tricky". For example, Peter Figueredo, pulls out this line.
* If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.
And he comments...
Basically, this seems to say that Google may remove websites from it's ORGANIC search listings if they participate in affiliate programs and do not "add value" by Google's standards.
Does this mean that Google feels it can dictate how affiliates should be promoting advertisers (other than Google) that they work with? It sure sounds like it.
Does Your Website Have 'Google Value'?
Most likely you have nothing to worry about. Yet, you have to wonder, as more and more online businesses rely solely on their organic search rankings from Google as a primary traffic source, what happens when Google decides that your site doesn't meet their value as they define it, affiliate site or not?
The point is, values that are not 100% clearly defined can be risky when trying to adhere to, and in Google's case, being the monolith that they are, they could easily change them at their own whim if they wanted to. Will they, probably not, but they could.
Now, more than ever, it's important to review your online marketing initiatives across the board, including your vendors' practices, particularly your search engine practices.
Take the first step (it's free).