Google Warns Sites About Browser History Spam

Chris CrumSearch

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Google took to its Webmaster Central blog on Friday to warn webmasters that if they engage in a particular type of deceptive behavior, it "may" take action on guilty sites.

First off, I'm pretty sure that Google absolutely will take action on a site that it catches engaging in pretty much any kind of deceptive behavior that violates its quality guidelines. That's pretty standard.

Apparently, however, Google has been seeing more sites that are tricking users' browsers into going to new pages full of ads when they push the back button. This is the subject of Google's warning.

"Recently, we’ve seen some user complaints about a deceptive technique which inserts new pages into users’ browsing histories," explains Michael Wyszomierski from Google's Search Quality Team. "When users click the 'back' button on their browser, they land on a new page that they've never visited before. Users coming from a search results page may think that they’re going back to their search results. Instead, they’re taken to a page that looks similar, but is actually entirely advertisements.

Wyszomierski shows this as an example:

Back button spam

"To protect our users, we may take action on, including removal of, sites which violate our quality guidelines, including for inserting deceptive or manipulative pages into a user's browser history," says Wyszomierski. "As always, if you believe your site has been impacted by a manual spam action and is no longer violating our guidelines, you can let us know by requesting reconsideration."

This is one of those things that is so obviously deceptive, it's a little surprising that Google even feels the need to warn those engaging in this practice. By doing this, you're essentially preventing people from getting back to their Google results when they're unsatisfied with the result they clicked on. Of course Google isn't going to stand for that.

You were lucky enough to get the user to click on your result. Wouldn't your time be better spent giving them what they actually want rather than doing shady stuff like this? Come on.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.