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Googlerank feedback loop

§ Google

I recently started listing referrers at the bottom of each blog post. Where the referrer appeared to be a search engine, I display the search term separately. I started showing search terms as a matter of interest, but it had an unintentional effect: the search terms have fed back into Google and boosted the ranking of my pages.

The feedback process is simple and depends on an initial click-through from a Google search:

  1. A user does a search on Google; a Clagnut page appears in the results.
  2. The user clicks through to the page.
  3. The referral script detects the search terms and displays them on the page.
  4. Google sees the page has changed and re-indexes it.
  5. A different user searches with the same search terms; the page appears higher up the results.
  6. The user clicks through to the page.
  7. The referral script detects a slightly different URL (as often happens) and again displays the search terms on the page (the search terms are now displayed twice).
  8. Google sees the page has changed and re-indexes it.
  9. Another user searches with the same search terms; the page appears yet higher up the results. And so on…

On the face it, this seems like a good thing, however I’m a little paranoid about Google thinking I’m trying to cheat the system so I no longer show the referrals section to the GoogleBot indexer.

A glance at the most popular Google searches now reaching Clagnut also gives one an indication that many visitors are actually looking for the kind of self-gratification they’re unlikely to find here. Quite why Clagnut features so highly (#38 at time of writing) in a search for nude girls is beyond me. Ironically though, referrer spammers were responsible for pushing Clagnut higher up the very Google results pages the spammers themselves were aiming for.