Google’s Matt Cutts And JavaScript Redirects

    August 19, 2005

There are a number of different optimization techniques webmasters use to try and improve their search engine rankings, some acceptable (white hat SEO), some not (black hat SEO).

One of the suspect methods, using JavaScript redirects, has been addressed by Google engineer Matt Cutts on his recently launched Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO blog (hat-tip to Threadwatch). In Matt’s most recent post, he points out how a site is using this technique to hide a page developed for no other reason than to trick the search engines.

In order to make an effectively illustrate of his point, Matt uses web dev/SEO site as an example of how a site use a JavaScript redirect to hide a spam page. In order to properly demonstrate how such a redirect is being used in this case, Matt recommends turning off your browser’s JavaScript and navigate to the following URL:

If you have JS turned off, when you arrive to this page, you see a great deal of what Matt refers to as gibberish, masking itself as “legitimate” content. By taking a closer look at the page in question, you find this gibberish is actually content that’s been scraped from other pages, and its being used to game the search engines. However, this is not the point Matt is trying to get across. Matt is not only concerned with the spam page, he also has issue with the use of a JavaScript redirect that forwards visitors to the home page, a clear example of how to misuse such a tool.

Here is a screenshot of the page in question before the redirect is put to use.

As you can see, the “content” on this page is being used for one purpose: so TechGroups gets search engine credit for work that is not theirs. Because offers SEO services, having a respectable rating for any keyword terms or phrases related to optimization (or any of the other below examples) will only benefit the site, provided they haven’t been penalized (which may be case because the index page isn’t showing in a Google site query, unless of course its buried deep within the SERPs).

I’ve also just discovered that the search engine spam page is not the only page of this type being used by TechGroups. They’ve also included pages that target the following:

Mazda protege pr5

Epiphone pr5

Add (which seems to target some of the following keywords: grossing films google page rank, page rank google, page rank algorithm ? sextracker page rank)


Deep web

Shopping cart source code

All of the above examples use the JavaScript redirect to send visitors to the TechGroups home page. Unfortunately, these aren’t the only spam pages being used by TechGroups. If you would like to see others, follow the Google site query and look at all the results.

So that people who may unknowingly employ methods like these, Matt offers some high-risk tactics to avoid when optimizing your site:

  • Don’t use programs that automatically generate doorway pages.
  • It especially looks bad if the doorway pages are gibberish.
  • It really especially looks bad if the content you use is scraped content.
  • If you’re considering scraping content, doing it in the SEO industries is one of the worst places to do it.
  • If you scrape SEO content and end up scraping a couple spam pages, you may get noticed even more because someone is investigating the other spam pages.
  • and then:

  • If you make lots of pages, don’t put JavaScript redirects on all of them.
  • If you’re doing JavaScript redirects, don’t obfuscate the code-it just makes people think that you’re doing things after lots of deliberate consideration.
  • If you do obfuscate code, ask yourself: can a regular person still look at this code and tell what it’s doing without even knowing JavaScript?
  • Sound advice from a person who has an idea of what he’s talking about.

    Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.