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Manual reviews at Google?

Alex Christie

7 February 2008

Welcome to our first post from the dark side of search.

Several hundred years ago a famous military strategist proclaimed "know your enemy", this has become extremely relevant for search, especially in today’s climate. With that in mind we will begin our forays into the dark side.

Today I’m going to take a brief look into manual reviews, a subject that very little is known about.
The inspiration for my post came from a recent blog post where the blogger did some analysis of their log files and found a few possible flags.

Using WHOIS to identify the that the IP address was in fact owned by Google, the following processes seem to have been carried out by a manual checker:

  • A well known link spam site showed as the referrer, this could be a prerequisite after a spam report is filed by a webmaster.
  • http://www.google.com/searchq?=abc; this referring URL seems to be used as it can trick a considerable amount of cloaking techniques(mainly Javascript based) as they generally don’t cloak if the referring URL is a search query.
  • No referrer; this was spotted in the logs too but it also mentioned that this could just be a fluke

This analysis combined with a leaked recruitment memo last year have given us some real insight into the inner workings of the Google manual review process.

Till next time, stay in the light.

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