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More Link Spam Examples in Google

Activities Your SEO Firms Should Avoid

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The New York Times published an article near and dear to my heart over the weekend about JCPenny manipulating Google results as a result of paid links. Apparently it’s news to many people that this kind of activity is taking place. But to those of us who optimize Web sites using “white hat” tactics it is certainly no surprise as we investigate why our competitors out rank us. I thought I would share some of the other common techniques that cheating sites are effectively using to game the system. Hopefully this article will help Google and Bing develop better algorithmic solutions to these problems and hopefully it will educate consumers about what types of activities their SEO firms should avoid.

For today’s example, I will be looking at the Hot Tub industry where one of my clients has a significant interest and ranks well for many of the most sought after terms including “hot tub”, “hot tubs”, “spa” and “spas” as well as many other related permutations. And while my client enjoys significant rankings across these terms, based on their link equity, it is dishearting to have to explain to them why a site like http://www.choosehottubsdirect.com is competing with them for listings given their back link profile. Unlike JC Penny, ChooseHotTubsDirect is using a number of other link spam tactics to artificially inflate their Google rankings. Let’s take a look at some of the methods they’re using including blog comment spam, blog spam (splogs), and forum spam. They may also be doing paid links but I won’t be focusing on those in this article.

*Note that some of these links may have a nofollow tag on them and therefore do not count for SEO purposes. However, the amount of link spam pointing to this site shows a clear and consistent intent to manipulate search results.

Blog Comment Spam:

This was supposed to die with the advent of the nofollow tag, but obviously it isn’t instituted on all blog platforms. Here is an example of some of the URLs where you can find links purposely created to establish keyword focused links back to ChooseHotTubsDirect even though most of these sites are completely unrelated.

  • http://www.startupnorth.ca/2010/09/30/xx-tech-founders/
  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work/2008/09/05/jim-clark-in-a-hot-tub-in-italy-somewhere/
  • http://community.adn.com/alaska/node/114236
  • http://www.adamia.com/about/world-of-adamia/the-city-in-the-sky
  • http://www.rvbuyersguide.com/Articles/post/Tips-for-towing-an-RV-safely.aspx
  • http://www.chinaexpat.com/2009/03/05/dont-get-married-in-hui-an.html/
  • http://magblog.audubon.org/node/339
  • http://www.slashfilm.com/chevy-chase-joins-hot-tub-time-machine-considering-fletch-rebootsequel/

I have no problem with getting links by adding value to a conversation happening on a blog. But when the comment exists solely for the purpose of SEO, its spam.

Blog Spam (splog):

These are blogs designed only to create links for the purposes of SEO. There is no value to the end user and most of the time the content is garbage:

  • http://homengardengoods.com/hottubs-spa-hot-tub.html (borderline content at best)
  • http://www.british-columbia-listings.com/
  • http://www.alouc.com/2010/08/
  • http://iniciativaacceso.org/
  • http://www.miramesanorth.com/
  • http://www.j-leaguefans.com/experience-the-best-of-hot-tub.html
  • http://www.condecon.net/daily-routine/
  • http://eviant.co.cc/2010/03/a-guide-to-buying-hot-tubs
  • http://kklocaladmin.org/2010/07
  • http://netflixkddworkshop2008.info/2010/07
  • http://www.groupe-loft.com/very-good-way/
  • http://www.triton-shop.com/2010/04/17/buy-spa-hot-tubs-on-internet/
  • http://www.e-redes.org/?p=78
  • http://www.ptvr.net/2010/07/
  • http://kiksmedia.com/hot-tubs/
  • http://www.ytbconsultants.com/like-hot-water-bathing-in-hot-water-baths.html
  • http://www.kukonlomamokit.net/
  • http://www.directtohomeappliances.com/
  • http://hmgf-ugm.org/?paged=2
  • http://www.ezprotocols.com/massage/

There are plenty more of these in their backlink profile but after 20 I figured I had made my point. The majority of their backlinks seem to be of this type.

Again, guest writing blog articles that provide useful information to users is a good way to get links. Writing garbage and posting it on sites filled with garbage is not.

Forum Spam:

Similar to blog commenting spam but takes place in a forum:

  • http://www.aeva.asn.au/forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=892&PID=26104
  • http://www.hostingsindia.com/topic153.html
  • http://forums.sinsofasolarempire.com/376275
  • http://www.discussionsworld.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=23144
  • http://www.webmasterforumsonline.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=16223
  • http://forums.adobe.com/thread/594208
  • http://intgovforum.org/cms/discussionspace?func=view&catid=5&id=30
  • http://forums.zoho.com/topic/issue-with-zoho-mobile-on-nokia-e71
  • http://forums.registeredrep.com/forums/clients/google-boys
  • http://www.bigfishtackle.com/cgi-bin/gforum/gforum.cgi?post=564641
  • http://forum.bodybuildingpro.com/member.php?u=10761
  • http://www.honeymoonforums.com/showthread.php?t=6255
  • http://www.mytractorforum.com/showthread.php?t=113473
  • http://www.theopia.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2295&start=0
  • http://www.webdesignchat.org/link-exchange/928-good-i-heard.html
  • http://www.swordfishingcentral.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13828
  • http://www.becomehealthynow.com/vblite/showthread.php?p=5252
  • http://www.mma-fighter.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=28969
  • http://forums.joeuser.com/376275

Again, there is way more of this stuff in their profile but after 20 instances I think the point has been made.

Another interesting “black hat” tactic that I found is the use of clone sites which are essentially duplicate sites with different skins:

  • http://chooseportablespas.com/
  • http://chooseportablehottubs.com/

The funniest part about this whole thing is that one of the links that ChooseHotTubsDirect.com does have that is legitimate is their press release about the secret to their success. Apparently, it’s all thanks to their in-house, world class SEO Team:

  • http://www.prweb.com/releases/choose-direct/seo/prweb3199884.htm

Hopefully as search technology advances these techniques will become less effective. It’s really frustrating to explain to clients why their competitors are ranking well in the engines using cheap and underhanded link spam techniques. Especially when you are recommending much more costly link development campaigns that center on providing useful content to users and then marketing that content through relevant channels. I don’t envy Matt Cutts and his team at Google as they have an extraordinarily difficult job to do in hunting all of this stuff down. Hopefully this will help.

Originally published at BusinessOL.com

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  • Guest

    The reason they had their own SEO department was they needed full time spammers to do nothing more than spam the internet. The reason the ROI was so high is because it’s cheaper to pay somebody to spam the internet than it is to buy links on related high PR sites.

    This is how these so called SEO companies guarantee page 1 rankings in as little as 24 hours.
    Some are scams and just take your money and run, but the ones that actually do provide what they claim to spam the internet with links to your site to accomplish their goal.

  • http://www.gustavoamorim.net Especialista SEO

    Every body does a bit of link spam. SEO are used to it, what need be careful is not to abuse of it. If some SEO just use white hat, he/she probably won’t get many good results. It this market some time you must be gray.

  • http://www.sitetruth.com John Nagle

    For years, Google had major sites and brands intimidated. They were afraid to spam Google too aggressively, for fear of being banned. Google search spam tended to be a bottom-feeder thing, from anonymous web sites run by very small operations.

    In the last quarter of 2010, all that changed. First, Google started mixing Places results into the main search results. Places results are driven by recommendations, and those are very easy to spam. Nothing bad happened to companies that spammed Google Places. SEO firms openly advertised services for spamming Google Places. Some even offered money-back guarantees. (We have a paper on this: “http://www.sitetruth.com/doc/placesspam10.pdf”) The distinction between black-hat and white-hat SEO was blurred in the Places arena.

    Then came the Demand Media IPO. Goldman Sachs got behind a spammer and pushed it to a billion dollar market cap. This was new – a large, well-funded public company devoted to spamming Google as a business. Fear of Google retribution wasn’t enough to stop that IPO. Nor did it keep Aol from entering the Google-spamming business.

    Then the New York Times investigated Google spam and turned up the J.C. Penny mess. Old-line brands were spamming Google successfully. Google’s systems couldn’t detect that – until the New York Times reporter told them, Google didn’t know about the J.C. Penny problem.

    Google’s anti-spam measures have now been exposed as hype. It’s not the technology that was keeping spam under control – it was fear. That fear is now gone. Intimidation isn’t working. It’s open season on Google now.

  • http://www.eversparkinteractive.com Guest

    In this video, the guy says you can pay to get 300 links per week. Is this like the JCPenny penalty?

    http://www.youtube.com/user/eversparkinteractive#p/u/25/nJ16nXwKPEE

  • http://www.spiralteck.com yinka

    Most people post on blogs and forums because of SEO.
    Google should just stop rating sites by the number of backlinks and let’s see what would happen.

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