Update: Stylefeeder Responds and Gets Banned

In an update to my previous article regarding 302 redirects as a method to spam search engines, I received a reply back from Stylefeeder. Though I am late getting this up due to future posting, I wanted to share what they had to say.

When asked why Stylefeeder uses 302 redirects instead of direct links, a representative of the site using the name “Phil” had this to say:

We do this for two reasons. First off, we want the demographic information to know what our users are interested in. This affects our marketing efforts and recommendation engine in bringing a better user experience to the site. Secondly, in some, but not all cases, we append affiliate codes to URLs in order to gain some revenue. Mostly we do this with Amazon pages, but a very small number of our other pages have additional affiliate tags.

He went on to say in his post that they do not do any cloaking or other trickery and that they are not certain why some of their 302 redirects are showing up in the search engines. Also, according to Phii, using permanent redirects (301) would interfere with their ability to obtain statistics and says that many affiliate programs as well as Google Adsense use 302 redirects.

Phil also says that the issue of 302 redirects is not a problem with Google, not sites like his.

However, in my personal experience, I have never had any trouble obtaining statistics without 302 redirects. I get information on outbound clicks through my stat counters and they do not use any kind of redirect.

There are also scripts available to append affiliate information to Amazon links without using redirects and other methods are readily available, especially on dynamic sites.

Some services do use redirects, for reasons not entirely clear to me at this time, but the use is very limited. There seems, to me at least, to be very little reason to use 302 redirects so broadly, especially when a regular link will do fine.

Still, I have to agree that it is a problem with Google and, hopefully, one that will be rectified soon.

Results Page Altered

In another update to the story, the Google results page for “Ralph Rocks” has been altered and Now Smell This has the top slot. It appears that the queries to Google’s “Report a Spam Result” page had the desired effect.

It also appears that the rest of Stylefeeder has not suffered too much at this time as the rest of the site seems to be indexed fine. There is no word yet if the site was demoted in other results but early indication are that they have not.

Still, this makes it clear that Google does not like 302 redirects and their use should be kept to an absolute minimum. There may be some use for them but broad use, even if it is not with the intent to spam or steal content, can lead to problems.

It is best to be safe than sorry.

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