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July 10, 2006

Matt’s Back

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Matt Cutts is back over at his blog helping us to make sense of the search engines again. We can all breathe a little easier.

The big MC confirmed the spam scores people thought they saw were in fact real, though we probably won’t ever get to see little morsels like that again. But that’s all he’s saying about it. Because Matt Cutts is no fun. No fun at all!

Fine, I guess the time travel reference was slightly fun. And the alien communication one. But that’s it.

Matt also touched on the temporary injunction filed against Google that we told you about a couple weeks back. At the time, the Catawba County School was accusing Google of conversion and trespassing after Google maliciously “hacked” into a restricted area on the school’s site and posted personal student information. Riiight. We told you that theory sounded a little too Spider of Doom-ish for us, and Matt is inclined to agree. A Google rep told him:

“The URL was on a server that this school district thought was password-protected. Before they took down the server, I was able to retrieve the live URL. I was getting a username/password login page with a regular Firefox user agent, but I got a server error when I changed the UA as Googlebot. I changed back to Firefox and was able to retrieve the username/password page again. It seems their document system was cloaking to Gbot, likely unbeknownst to the people who are writing us now and requesting the removal.”

It looks like another case of user error. So I guess Google wasn’t “hacking” into the school’s server after all. Though that does make a way cooler story.

The situation inspired Matt’s Herding Googlebot post that instructs users on how to, well, herd the Googlebot. Matt provides valuable tips for guiding the bot at a site or directory level, page level, link level and at the “what to do after you mess that up and your content has already been crawled” level.

Matt notes in the comment section the removal tool can also be used to remove a single page (or URL), though Matt advises using extreme caution when doing this. You wouldn’t want to get your site accidentally kicked out of Google for six months. That would be bad.

If you’re looking for more information on this, SES San Jose will feature a Bot Obedience session. It may just be in your best interest to check it out. No Googlers are currently on the panel, but it sounds like Matt’s working on that.

If you’re interested, Matt also equates installing Ubuntu as being as easy as falling off a log. The whole installation process would have gone off without a hitch had Emmy not unplugged his computer. Heh. I like that cat. MC offers a full Ubuntu review on his site.





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