Bot Herding (aka Page Sculpting)

Bot herding, sometime referred to as “sculpting,” is the act of shaping what search engines sees, and therefore what content you are ranked on. The idea behind bot herding is to keep the search engines off the content you didn’t want to be known for.

One of my clients has a consumer reports aspect to their business and actively blacklists companies who don’t provide good customer service. As a service to their customers they listed other services

where you could file reports or contact state authorities for more punitive actions. They were ranking for all these “consumer” related terms and phrases and, as a result, getting large amounts of traffic to this page. So the problem?? The content was telling search engines that the site had a different purpose. It was bringing traffic to the site that was unrelated to their business and tying up customer support time working on issues that were unrelated to their core business.

So I challenge you to look at your content and determine if the information truly relates and is core to your business and will produce traffic that you want. Pages that routinely run afoul to this dictum are pages such as privacy policies and bios.

This doesn’t mean this content should be eliminated, but the SEO impact of this information can be mitigated through the use of “no follow” parameters in key links and “disallow” parameters in robot.txt, page meta tags.

see: robot exclusion protocol (REP) and rel=”nofollow”

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