Is Google Flight Search Spamming Google's Search Results?

Mar 23, 2018 - 8:23 am 17 by
Filed Under Spam

Google Cloaking

Martin MacDonald notified me on Twitter of Google Flights spamming Google with links in their footers and potentially even hiding links to users but not GoogleBot, which would be potentially cloaking which is also against Google's webmaster guidelines.

This is what Martin is able to see on the footer of the Google Flights home page:

click for full size

I do not see that, because I am seeing the new version of the Google Flights experience. I see this:

click for full size

For some reason the Google Cache doesn't show the links either but when you change your user agent to GoogleBot, GoogleBot does render those links.

And if you search for Google's saturation of these landing pages in Google search, Google is really working on getting these pages indexed and ranking:

Google Flights Search Results Spam

Plus, I am not even sure Google needs to do that because they put this huge box at the top to Google Flights above the organic results anyway:

click for full size

So I did ping Google's John Mueller and Danny Sullivan about this and I have yet to hear back:

Google has gotten themselves into trouble before with cloaking, leading to Google banning themselves and for AdWords cloaking also. Plus they have penalized themselves for unintentionally going against their own guidelines before.

In this case, I am not sure because it is a beta release of a new version of Google Flights. So the cloaking might not be there, it is a fuzzy thing to call out on. But the links and content landing pages might be a bit too much?

Forum discussion at Twitter.


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