Sneaky Redirects and Google's Penguin Update

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There are a few stories popping-up on the web stating Google's Penguin update is targeted at webspam and sites violating Google's quality guidelines.

One of the guidelines listed at Google is avoiding sneaky redirects. I've seen a number of articles smugly stating one only has to remove sneaky redirects to fix the problem, but without ever researching what a redirect is.

What is a sneaky redirect?

Forget what Google says publicly. That's about as accurate as Google's public list of backlinks to your site. Instead, find Google's confidential "Raters Guide" (March 11, 2011, page 100) which was leaked to the web. It discusses what a sneaky redirect is, what it looks like, what it does, and how to find it.

You know what a sneaky redirect is? An affiliate link.

The example in the Raters Guide uses a Commission Junction link. The website has a link to CJ which redirects the user to the merchant (JC Whitney in Google's example).

Google also says these sneaky redirects are common when taking people to Amazon, eBay, Zappos, etc.

It is ok to directly link to a merchant. But it is "sneaky" if you link through CJ which "redirects" you to the merchant. That is spam as the link is intended to make you money, and Google has made clear it considers the vast majority of affiliate sites to be spam because they do not add sufficient extra value. Whatever that is.

Bottom line: It is easy enough to say Google is targeting "web spam." How awful. Who isn't against web spam?

... Until you realize how Google defines web spam.

#google #penguin #redirects #sneaky #update
  • Profile picture of the author retsek
    Google can define spam however they want. It's their SERPs. If the SERPs were mine, that's how I'd define it too.

    So you either figure out how to add true value and also include your affiliate links or you don't.
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  • Profile picture of the author mkpoway
    You're basing your post on a leaked document from 2001?
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  • Profile picture of the author webinventaekhlas
    Nicely said. I have got a new information about sneaky redirects from your post. Thanks for sharing.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brader
    Nice post, google penguin is nope :lol:
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  • Profile picture of the author Fraggler
    Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

    You know what a sneaky redirect is? An affiliate link.
    Oh where oh where can I find a solution to this obvious problem? Do you know of a product that can create these affiliate links while remaining in favour with Google?

    Sneaky Redirects: We call it a sneaky redirect when a page redirects the user from a URL on one domain to a different URL on a different domain, with spam intent. Search engines “see” the first page, while the user is sent to a different page and sees different content.
    These are not affiliate links. Affiliate links most of the time will remain on the same URL and/or domain as the original link. There are some (but not many) that go through a change of domain but not many of them.

    The guidelines are talking about cloaking your links to confuse the end user. You can send a customer to Amazon using affiliate links without doing a sneak redirect.

    Places like Clickbank can do this sneaky redirecting but you can usually send the affiliate URL parameter direct to the final domain and still have the cookie drop successfully.

    Can you post some of the references which mention these sneaky redirects as being the major issue from the latest algorithm update? Everywhere I have read has talked about over optimisation which is usually due to over zealous backlinking and anchor text abuse.
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    • Profile picture of the author RobCubbon
      Is it a bad idea to redirect affiliate links all through the site like this: ?
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      • Profile picture of the author Derek Blandford
        I've always thought sneaky redirects are something like this...

        1.) Do a search on Google for "should i text my ex" without the quotes
        2.) In the #2 position at the time of writing this is a site If you hover over the link that says, "Win Back Ex Boyfriend" for that site and look at the bottom of your browser, it says it should be taking you to
        3.) If you click on the link in the search results, it doesn't go to Instead, it eventually ends on a site called get your ex back solutions that has a bunch of reviews for get your ex back type products
        4.) However, if you actually type directly into your browser rather than clicking on it through the Google search results, then you get taken to the actual website about Dan Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame

        So to me that's what a sneaky redirect is. I don't know if this person is able to hack these sites to redirect them or exactly how it works, but it's clear they are able to manipulate these sites to point people to their get your ex back review products page.

        At #9 for the term "should i text my ex" is another site, which is doing the same thing...same person. And on page 2, is also being manipulated by this person although Google seems to have noticed this one since it has the "this site may be compromised warning".

        All of this seems rather fishy to me, but I've seen this person totally dominating a lot of search terms in the "get your ex back" niche with Google apparently being none the wiser....

        Anyone else agree this is a "sneaky redirect"? Disagree?
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      • Profile picture of the author pjp007
        Originally Posted by RobCubbon View Post

        Is it a bad idea to redirect affiliate links all through the site like this: ?
        I'm also curious about this. As I do all my redirects like this on one of my sites and it got penalized a few months ago.
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  • Profile picture of the author Derek Blandford
    Actually the sneaky redirects by this person are currently dominating almost all terms in the "get your ex back" niche....things like "how to get your ex boyfriend back", "get your girlfriend back", "win back your ex", etc. ....finding on average 3 to 4 sites in the top 10 that are redirected domains to this person's review page...

    Anyone else seeing this?
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  • Profile picture of the author DPM70
    Yes, Derek. Noticed this dan-radcliffe site recently dominating that niche's longtails.
    search in google. Then look at the cached page. This looks like some kind of hack.
    I don't build in order to have clients. I have clients in order to build. - Ayn Rand
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    • Profile picture of the author Derek Blandford
      Yep, the same is true of the other sites I've mentioned and there are a bunch more. Actually if you look at the cache's of those sites as you have mentioned, you'll see a lot of hyperlinks to other sites that are also compromised...

      What a big mess...

      I'm seeing more pop up every day and they are all slowly rising to the front page of Google....many searches already have 3 or 4 of these sites appearing in the top 10.
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  • Profile picture of the author DPM70
    I'm seeing this in other niches as well. Compromised flickr pages or other high pr sharing/social sites etc with hundreds of keywords listed under the fold. Then thousands of homepage backlinks showing in MS ACRank Analysis pointing at that url. Surely wont last long but as you say - its a mess and looks like the spammers / blackhatters are having a field day.
    I don't build in order to have clients. I have clients in order to build. - Ayn Rand
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  • Profile picture of the author LinkAvenger
    I have a client who has a handful of sneaky redirects through .gov and .edu sites. I'm researching this to get rid of them but this type SEO is just crap and I want to go bomb the idiot that did this. Wow, I better go take some Valerian or something, my aggression is getting out of hand.
    Annie Layer
    SEO Ninja Goddes
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Maguire
    This is a sneaky redirect:

    <script type="text/javascript">// <![CDATA[
    // ]]></script>
    This allows the page enough time to be parsed, and then redirects the user to a desired target page. This type of "sneaky redirect" is in no doubt a Blackhat technique, that can maintain a urls SERP without the normal degredational loss of a standard 30" type redirect.

    I'm pretty sure this would be what Google refers to "sneaky redirect", as it is a clear manipulation of SERPs and of course "poor user experience" The above code should NOT be used by the untrained. Abuse may cause blindness.
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  • Profile picture of the author hostdare
    Using sneaky redirects will get you removed from Google
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