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New Spam Techniques Catching Fire

By Gord Collins
Posted Friday, September 17, 2004

A new set of tactics some deem unethical are not being eliminated by Google from its search results. Google’s lack of action is making some wonder if their quality control people are really on the job. The success of these tactics actually threatens the viability of ethical search engine optimization and pushes SEO back into the hands of common spammers.

I’m sure you’ve heard about ethical search engine optimization at some point in your research into search engine optimization practices and strategies. I’ve read search engine posts poking fun at, or outright ridiculing the concept as naïve and useless. These people suggest that search engines are in business to make money and the search engine’s own business ethics revolves only around its own need to make money.

With Google’s recent discounting of link exchanges, favoring of authority sites, and the freedom of high pagerank sites to do as they please along with their unbridled enthusiasm for the new algorithm, has left most Web site owners with few methods of gaining presence in Google’s search results. And that despite having the best information or resources on a particular keyword topic.

Search engines do in fact, have money making as their primary motivation since they are a business entity and they do change their algorithms to improve their service. With that change, it seems a whole new set of ethics evolves and it can confuse and make optimizing for search engines seem like an impossible task.

On the other side of the issue are ethical SEO professionals. They believe that regardless of the individual search engine’s current algorithm, the intent of a webmaster to use technical tricks and deceptive content that wastes users time, is not an acceptable practice.

However, one person’s coded redirect is another’s transition strategy and another person’s multidomain spam is another’s diversified content.

Several tricks and tactics are popular right now and are working with a fair degree of success Google search engine listings of all places:

Paid Links disguised as real human written Links

Paid links are a hot issue right now and one that may not be solvable by a robot based search engine. Sites arrange an “ad buy” where links will appear on hundreds of Web pages on several hundred different Web sites. These paid links most often show up on shopping search sites where thousands of products are listed. The link then appears to be a normal “commerce driven” link to a relevant consumer product. It is accepted by Google along with the rest of the links.

Duplicate Domains

Why can’t Google detect two exactly similar web sites with only different domain names? How about these same sites ranking one and two for the very same phrase? Well, this happens too frequently and it’s due to Google’s preoccupation with linking within topically related sites. Domain spam is disguised as a corporation’s attempt to have web sites for its different subsidiaries. Those with many subsidiaries get a big boost from these domains. Those without subsidiaries can simply invent new products and services and portray them as legitimate and separate entities. They are increasingly being hosted on different IP addresses and even in different geographical locations.

Link pattern detection used by Google has difficulty dealing with this practice and is failing in dealing with it. Google’s new emphasis on authority sites actually makes this matter worse.

Non Robot Detectable Redirects

<body onMouseOver="eval(unescape('%6C%6F%63%61%74%69%6F%6E%2E%686F%70%69%63%62%61%74%6F%6E%73%2E%6E%65%74%2F%27%3B'));"

The use of a mouseover code (above) is quietly gaining a strong level of usage. The code automatically redirects the visitor to another page, but only upon the mouse pointer being over the page itself. Since a search engine robot doesn’t have a mouse pointer, it is blind to the tactic. The tactic is combined with a server side redirect to another page, which may or may not be relevant. The purpose of the redirect may be a part of bigger ploy to support another ranking strategy.

Humungous Machine-Generated Web Sites

Some technically-able webmasters are able to stretch a minimal amount of content across thousands of pages. The pages are built with templates and the sentences within them are basically shuffled from one page to the next with unique title tags plugged into each page generated. It’s basically the same page repeated hundreds or thousands of times.

This technique is most often used with e-commerce pages that have a product for sale. Often, the products are simply re-organized, or shuffled to create another page that appears to be unique. It’s actually the same products presented countless different ways.

About the Author
Gord Collins
SEO Specialist
Bay Street SEO


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