Journalist Henk van Ess has caused a flurry of excitement on blogs and forums.
In his blog he revealed that Google uses teams of humans all over world to evaluate accuracy of Google's search results.
These "international agents", who are paid $10 to $20 an hour, were recruited mainly through universities. They're paid to check search results at Google every day.
Don't be distracted by debate over whether Google should be doing this.
Of course it should. It's just a form of quality control.
Google can use evaluators' findings to tweak its algorithms and reduce search engine spam.
What affiliates need to pay careful attention to is Google's "Spam Recognition Guide for Raters", which Henk revealed.
If you're a "thin affiliate," beware.
Although report is a year old, about 80% of its contents are still being used by Google's evaluators, Henk says.
The confidential document gives us an unvarnished look at Google's attitude to affiliates.
If you're using any of "manipulative techniques" Google describes, this report will probably encourage you to take a hard look at your website.
I hope you're not silly enough to be using hidden links or hidden text. Not surprisingly, Google teaches its "raters" how to detect them.
Are you creating pages without much content with aim of collecting pay-per-click (PPC) revenue? Google's raters are taught to mark such pages as "Offensive", and gives examples.
Google secret guidelines spend some time discussing different ways in which some affiliates display results from pay-per-click search engines, so if you're doing that, you'll definitely want to study this report carefully.
Are you displaying ads disguised as search engine results? Google finds them offensive.
Are you adding a dmoz.org feed to your site with aim of earning PPC revenue? That's "offensive", too.
"We differentiate between affiliates that produce extra service, value, or content, and those that simply are duplicates of other sites, set up to boost traffic to other sites and earn a commission for it. The former ones are not Offensive and should be rated on merits to query. The latter ones are Offensive... "Thin affiliate doorways are sites that usher people to a number of Affiliate programs, earning a commission for doing so, while providing little or no value-added content or service to user. A site certainly has right to try to earn income; we're attempting to identify sites that do nothing but act as a commission-earning middleman."