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How Google might filter annoying pages

Google recently filed a patent application with the title "Detecting and rejecting annoying documents". Here's the abstract of the application:

"A system and method for evaluating documents for approval or rejection and/or rating.

The method comprises comparing the document to one or more criteria determining whether the document contains an element that is substantially identical to one or more of a visual element, an audio element or a textual element that is determined to be displeasing."

The document describes how Google might analyze text and audio files. For example, Google might use optical character recognition tools and pattern matching against image and sound databases.

Why did Google do this?

Google probably wants to make their ad reviewing process faster. Their AdWords system accepts images ads, video ads and text ads.

Google has ad design guidelines and Google has to review all of these ads before they can be displayed in the AdWords network.

Manually reviewing these ads would take a lot of time. Given the high number of ads that Google displays, it might be impossible to review them all.

What are they looking for? Does this affect normal website rankings?

Google wants to avoid that ads are annoying or offensive. For example, they check if an ad is flashing, has repetitive movement or infinite loops. The use of streaming video and audio is also checked as well as the quality of the images.

Google also checks the content of the ads (offensive language, adult content) and many associated factors.

While it seems that these methods are currently used for ads the same criteria can also apply to normal web pages. If an ad annoys its viewers then it's likely that a web page with the same elements will annoy its visitors. For that reason, Google might also use these quality checks for the normal search results.

What does this mean to your website?

If your website contains many flashy elements, you might want to redesign it. Professional website design might be an important factor for high search engine rankings in the near future.

While professional design is important, it is also important that search engines can parse the content of your web pages. Use IBP's search engine spider simulator to check if search engines can read your web pages.

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August 2007 search engine articles