WidgetBucks is banned in Google and they know why

Google is at war again.

Yesterday, it slapped a lot of websites with a PageRank (PR) downgrade to send a signal that it hates paid text link ads. Now, it has been discovered that Google is also against WidgetBucks, a recently launched widget advertising program, apparently because of hidden text links.

Go to Google.com and try searching for “WidgetBucks” or “widgetbucks.com”. Chances are you won’t see its official site (www.widgetbucks.com) on the first page of the results. In fact, you won’t see it even on the next 10 pages.


Because Google has banned the site from appearing in the search results.

But why?

There is no official word from Google yet but it looks like WidgetBucks violated Big G’s guideline on hidden text and links:

If your site is perceived to contain hidden text and links that are deceptive in intent, your site may be removed from the Google index, and will not appear in search results pages. When evaluating your site to see if it includes hidden text or links, look for anything that’s not easily viewable by visitors of your site. Are any text or links there solely for search engines rather than visitors?

Got Chance explains this more:

After looking at [the WidgetBucks ad code], i understood that it is the Flash animation that rolls over this text-link and hides/covers it. The Flash is generated using the Javascript code. So, i used my Web Developer toolbar to disable javascript. Then, i viewed my site (that used WidgetBucks). As expected, i found the Text Link alone.

In other words, the Widgetbucks ad code contains a text link hidden under the Flash animation. We checked the ad code from WidgetBucks and indeed found the text link in question (highlighted below).

Original WidgetBucks ad code

<script src=”http://www.widgetbucks.com/script/widgetMagic.js” type=”text/javascript”></script>
<div id=”container_vz7Th6iymLdL0NdU” class=”wbtw160x300″>
<a href=”http://www.widgetbucks.com” target=”_blank”>WidgetBucks – Trend Watch – WidgetBucks.com</a>
</div><script type=”text/javascript”>writeWBStyles(“www.widgetbucks.com”);
setTimeout(function(){var day = “” + new Date().getMonth() + new Date().getDate() + new
Date().getYear();var widget = new mpireWidget(“http://www.widgetbucks.com/widgets/
wbtw160x300.swf?uid=vz7Th6iymLdL0NdU&apiURL= http://www.widgetbucks.com&day=”+day,”
vz7Th6iymLdL0NdU”);widget.write(“container_vz7Th6iymLdL0NdU”);}, Math.floor((Math.random() * 150) – (-(Math.random() * 150))) – (-200))</script>

The presence of a text link hidden under the Flash animation (which is visible when the browser’s Javascript is disabled) is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines which most probably explains why WidgetBucks is banned in Google’s search results.

WidgetBucks, however, is now aware of this as shown by an email they sent to members a few hours ago. The “important notice” advises everyone to update their ad codes:

It is very important to note that this update will require action on your part. You will need to update code of your existing widgets for the speedier load times to take affect on your site, blog or network.

Although WidgetBucks claims that the code update is for “speedier load times,” we believe it is more because they want to lift Google’s ban on them.

I logged in to my WidgetBucks account and checked the updated code for our ad code above. The only obvious change is that the <a href> tag in the “WidgetBucks – Trend Watch – WidgetBucks.com” line is now gone.

Updated WidgetBucks ad code

<script src=”http://images.widgetbucks.com/script/widgetMagic.js” type=”text/javascript”></script>
<div id=”container_vz7Th6iymLdL0NdU” class=”wbtw160x300″>
WidgetBucks – Trend Watch – WidgetBucks.com
</div><script type=”text/javascript”>writeWBStyles(“images.widgetbucks.com”);
setTimeout(function(){var day = “” + new Date().getMonth() + new Date().getDate() + new
Date().getYear();var widget = new mpireWidget(“http://images.widgetbucks.com/widgets/
wbtw160x300.swf?uid=vz7Th6iymLdL0NdU&apiURL= http://www.widgetbucks.com&day=”+day,”
vz7Th6iymLdL0NdU”);widget.write(“container_vz7Th6iymLdL0NdU”);}, Math.floor((Math.random() * 150) – (-(Math.random() * 150))) – (-200))</script>

Removing the hidden link in the ad code is certainly an effort on WidgetBucks’s part to please Google. But whether Google will buy it and move to place WidgetBucks back in the search results remains to be seen.

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7 thoughts on “WidgetBucks is banned in Google and they know why”

  1. yup! that is right its funny when Iw as writing my post – I received the email for immediate update – for a faster version – even though its flash and javascript which can be updated from a central location….hmm

  2. Yup. A big no-no! Having a hidden text link is a direct violation from Google’s TOS. I found it rather funny for widgetbucks to say speedier loading times when they mean to say, for us to be indexed again. Haha

  3. Amazing to see how theories abound. Let us clarify. The code change today implements the Akamai content delivery network (CDN) for the delivery of all static content (i.e. .swf, .js, and .css). This allows these elements to be loaded from Akamai’s massive “edge” presence rather than our Seattle-based colocation facilities – this offloads traffic from our web servers and greatly increases load speed for the ad content. You will notice that the old path (www.widgetbucks.com) was updated to reflect the new path (images.widgetbucks.com) which is a CNAME mapping to the Akamai network.

    The removal of the back-link was simply based on publisher feedback about not being allowed to modify the HTML to place a “no-follow” for SEO purposes – rather than grant permission to modify the HTML we provide, we simply removed the backlink. That back-link, by the way, was never maliciously placed there – if you do not have the Flash Player installed, then we wanted to show a link to WidgetBucks, plain and simple – disabling javascript does nothing more than reproduce the No-Flash-Player case, since javascript is used to load the flash player.

    The last part, which is the “big mystery” about why we are not showing in the Google SERPs: This was a simple SEO oversight on our part in our rush to launch the site. We had some page content issues that were causing the page not to be indexed properly. If there is any doubt, I am happy to share a screenshot of the Google Webmaster tools report. This has nothing to do with Google, would be happy to put my name on it. The home page corrections were made yesterday, and we would expect to see Widgetbucks properly in SERPs in the next week or so. Hope that helps clarify the misperception/misunderstanding here.

  4. Particularly interesting cheers, It is my viewpoint your trusty visitors may well want considerably more items of this naturel continue the excellent effort.


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