Faking A Breadcrumb Trail To Stand Out On Google

Google Rich Snippets are an outstanding way for webmasters to get more exposure for their pages in the Google search results. Using them, you can add add images, review stars and more to your listings. But for some webmasters, that is not enough.

Back in November I noticed HTML entities working in Google’s breadcrumb rich snippets, and I am a bit shocked to see they still work. A reader anonymously sent us another example, showing the breadcrumb rich snippets with stars. It reads SEO ★★★★★ Rated!

Here is a screen shot, I tried to hide the offending site the best I could:

In the above example, it might come across as Google looking to vouch that this SEO company is 5 star rated. But no, it is not. This is a webmaster who figured out a way to trick Google in thinking this is a breadcrumb trail, that there’s a page called “SEO ***** Rated” on the site.

We continue to get reports of how publishers are using rich snippets in ways Google may have not wanted. In fact, a few months ago Google launched a rich snippet spam reporting tool because of the increase levels of spam being submitted through rich snippets.

In the past couple weeks, several blogs have come out with their distaste of rich snippet spam including BruceClay.com and John Melborough. But this has been going on since last year and is only getting worse as Google shows more and more rich snippets in the search results.

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Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Rich Snippets | SEO: Spamming | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://www.jeremymorgan.com/ Jeremy Morgan

    Wow, I never even thought of that… good idea for throwaway sites. I would never recommend doing something like this for any site you want to be considered reputable. Very deceptive and people who are more technical will see it as deceptive and tacky. 

    Interesting idea though!

  • http://rampify.com/ David Schloss

    We had a client experience this with an old developer. We cleaned up the code, but it took 2-3 days for the effects to show in Google. Nothing bad happened from the incident. 

  • Meredith Nunnally

    I thought I had noticed more in the SERPs with the five stars, etc.

    I find it funny, though, Google has “launched” a “rich snippet spam reporting tool” considering their current web spam reporting is a failure and does nothing to help those who aren’t spamming the index.

  • http://www.always10list.com/ jrplaza

    Yes, I’ve seen it many times and still suspect it to be spammy. It’s a shame it did appear on search engines and glad they have something to work on that. Reputation is something to be cared for and not just by showing manipulative codes on SE.

    Thanks for mentioning this.

  • funradio

    ooooh i didn’t know that was something like this ! It’s pretty dangerous….

  • http://www.facebook.com/the.nathaniel.bailey Nathaniel Bailey

     Google can be fair so as long as its fixed before they have to take action on it I’m sure people that have seen the error’s in there ways and work to remove such fake ratings will be fine.

    So this should be taken as a warning for all those that have tried to play the rating system and undo the fake rating pages before google catches you and puts you down a peg or two!

    I for one have seen a couple of sites doing this and will be using the report tool because they are falsely telling people they have been voted as a 5* company, which is just morally wrong!

  • http://twitter.com/viktordite Viktor Dite

    This is to much dangerous!
    Breadcrumb schema is more for telling google about the taxonomy of your site then just for showing some garbage in the SERP. Semantic Search is not for playing around with tricks. If you do so, googles Bot ‘ll tangle up surely!

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Well, Barry, I guess now that the site in question appears to be penalized or banned you can expect to be hammered for “outing an SEO”.  Remember the golden rule: Whatever happens in SEO club stays in SEO club — otherwise we’d have professional ethics and standards, and heaven forbid that should ever happen.

  • http://saney.ru/tools/google-snippets-generator.html Saney

    LOL I shared this trix in 2009 and it is still working :). Big SEO experts always call such things that they do not understand as spam – saney.com/tools/google-snippets-generator.html

  • http://www.netmagellan.com/ Ash Nallawalla

    A search for that phrase “Best SEO company for Google” leads to some atrocious examples of rewritten garbage.  The site in question also throws up a red circle if you have a WOT toolbar loaded.

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