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CyberAgent operated websites disappear from Google March 29, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in IT, Japan.
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Reported here (in Japanese, with screenshots of the possible offending item).

CyberAgent is an internet media/advertising firm with a wide portfolio of affiliated companies and websites.

(Including a Search Engine Marketing company. Oh the irony… Having said that, if you try to navigate the CASearch site, you may become as frustrated I did at the unfriendly UI.)
Google appears to have removed from its index various CA operated sites such as ecnavi.jp, e-cashing.net, melma.com, creditcard-hikaku.com, ca-guide.jp.

The blog linked above has a before and after shot of the possible offending functionality. (The sites have been changed already, but the old screenshot is apparently of courtesy of Yahoo!'s cache)

The use of a scrollable "link box" of minimal size to "display" links to various other associated sites (which also had this functionality reciprocated) appears to have been deemed to be inappropriate.

Some bloggers are wondering out loud what makes this punishable, whereas similarly expansive crosslinking between affiliated sites using a bunch of links at the bottom of the page is deemed to be OK (scroll to the bottom of the page to check the bunch of links, and then click through any of the links to find a similar setup).

The issue of visiblity to the human reader is most likely to be the determining factor, but is a row of 27 unordered links at the bottom of the page that much more useful to the human browser?

GMO also have a SEO outfit…..

I guess it could be argued that the scrolling window can be used to secrete links to SEO/SEM customers' sites as well, and that is where Google draws the line. I never had the opportunity to see what was contained in those scrolling windows so we shall never no for sure. However, one clue is that the screenshot does show [PR] in the text, which usually denotes that the following link is a paid link. So perhaps CA were selling links on their pages to 3rd parties as well as cross linking between themselves?

Will we ever find out?

In any case, Yahoo! is the dominant search engine in Japan, with over 50% market share (share increasing inversely proportional to IT literacy, based on a discussion I had with a SEO/SEM person – searches for non-technical current affairs, trends, fads, and celebrity gossip and the like appear to come as much as 80% from Yahoo, in some instances), GOOG and MSFT lag behind with less than 20% share each. In Japan at least, Google Blacklisting isn't as critical an issue for businesses compared to areas where Google dominates (eg USA).

Still, it is embarassing for a "internet" company like CA to be caught out like this…….

The Japanese MSM are slow to pick this one up. There has been just one internet article and this news was buried within Yahoo News' SEO category, so I assume it has had minimal exposure.

An IT company facing such an embarassment elsewhere would be expected to take a hit on its share price, but CA was up more than 5% today. Perhaps on the strength of the whole market, or on yesterday's news of CA setting up a new subsidiary targetting advertising for CGM……

UPDATE [Apparently the CA sites had these "linkboxes" not just on the top pages but on lots of (all of?) the pages contained within the sites which have been blacklisted, where as the links on the GMO sites appear only on the top pages. This may be deemed to be a significant difference]

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1. You thought PayPerPost was bad? « from the inside, looking in - April 11, 2007

[…] bankrupcy inherent in pretending to be “consumer generated media”). Some people might remember that CyberAgent got blacklisted by Google last March because of their questionable SEO […]


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