Spam Whackers

Exposing Various Types of Spam – Offering SEO & Webmaster Tips

April 27, 2006

Cloaking

Filed under: Search Engine Spam — Connie @ 6:10 pm

If you are new to the world of SEO you may not have heard of the term cloaking. If you have there is some disagreement about the definition of cloaking.

Dictionary.com gives this definition cloaking.

1: A loose outer garment, such as a cape.

2: Something that covers or conceals: a cloak of secrecy.

Number two is what is important in regards to the search engines. Covering or Concealing.

Google specifically states not to cloak in their Quality Guidelines. The other SEs do as well without using the specific term.

Matt Cutts recently defined cloaking from Googles point of view, and I’m fairly certain that Yahoo and MSN would agree.

Here’s the short answer from Google’s perspective:

IP delivery: delivering results to users based on IP address.
Cloaking: showing different pages to users than to search engines.

IP delivery includes things like “users from Britain get sent to the co.uk, users from France get sent to the .fr”. This is fine–even Google does this.

It’s when you do something *special* or out-of-the-ordinary for Googlebot that you start to get in trouble, because that’s cloaking. In the example above, cloaking would be “if a user is from Googlelandia, they get sent to our Google-only optimized text pages.”

So IP delivery is fine, but don’t do anything special for Googlebot. Just treat it like a typical user visiting the site.

A lot of people took exception to what Matt Said. Primarily posters at TW. Why did they take exception? They are either Spammers or are friends of Spammers who try to defend them.

Spammers and their friends always try to cloud a simple issue. Cloaking is deception. Spammers and their friends try to make all IP detection out to be the same as deception.

It is not. Alan Perkins wrote about this back in 2001 and it has not changed. Alan dealt with several issues relating to SE Spam in that article so you will need to scroll to the bottom of the page to read his comments on this particular subject.

Matt Cutts said basically the same thing in his answer in his blog.

Here is a related thread at IHY that I think you should read. The thread is about a well known Clocker Fantomaster and e-mail that he sent out.

Stay away from companies like www.fantomaster.com.au or www.fantomaster.com. Believe me the service is expensive, and at some point in time it will bite you in the but regardless of what Fantomaster says.

April 25, 2006

SEO Reports

Filed under: Scams — Connie @ 3:12 pm

It seems that many SEOs provide monthly reports to their customers as part of their service. That makes me wonder about a few things.

  • Who initially brings up the idea of a report. The potential customer or the SEO.
  • What is the real value of these reports to the customer?
  • What do the reports actually provide that the customer could not find out for themselves in a few minutes?
  • What is the real value of the reports?

A thread at HR Am I Getting Ripped Off? brought this to mind. The thread was started by a new member ClickClick. It looks to me like the member is getting ripped off big time, and all URLs to the Company involved were deleted from the original post by a Mod.

I could could live off what this person is paying monthly for a 5 page report. Furthermore the Company in question will not provide him with some information he has paid for.

I would love to know who that scumbag Company is. I would name them to help protect the innocent. Furthermore, it seems to me that High Rankings wants to protect the guilty rather than the innocent since they do not allow the posting of URLs.

April 21, 2006

Flash Sites

Filed under: General — Connie @ 3:50 pm

Personally I hate visiting a flash site. I’m on a slow dial up connection for reasons beyond my control.

In Matt Cutts latest post on his blog which is an update on the Pubcon Boston SEO conference most of the comments were by Vanessa Fox. Vanessa is a part of the Google site map team. Overall she gave some good tips in regard to SEO.

But the thing that really caught my eye was her comments in regard to flash sites. You will need to scroll down a bit for this.

Flash-based sites

It’s not only Googlebot who doesn’t watch a 20 second video load before the home page comes into view. A lot of users don’t either. Some users don’t want to wait that long; other users don’t have Flash installed. If all of your content and menus are in Flash, search engines may have a harder time following the links. If you feel strongly about using Flash, just make an HTML version of the page available as well. The search engine bots will thank you. Your users will thank you. Feel free to block the Flash version from the crawlers with a robots.txt file, since you don’t need your pages indexed twice. If your home page is Flash, put the navigation outside of the Flash content. You could offer a choice on the home page so users can choose either the HTML version or the Flash version of the site. (You might be surprised at what users choose.)

No doubt Vanessa is a smart gal who not only understands Google, but the searcher (Average Internet User).

Web Spam

Filed under: Search Engine Spam — Connie @ 2:20 pm

What is Web Spam which is better known as Search Engine Spam?

Tim Converse (aka Timboy) posted an interesting article in his blog a couple of days ago which I think gives a pretty good definition. He also makes some comparisons between e-mail spam and web spam. For those who do not know Tim is the chief spam fighter at Yahoo. He is the counterpart of Matt Cutts who is the chief spam fighter at Google.

Email spam vs. web spam

“Spam” to most people means the tasty canned meat delicacy. (Yes, I mean “delicacy” unironically. :) ) Secondary meaning is unwanted bulk commercial email. A distant third is search-engine spam or webspam – what my group at Yahoo! Search combats. That’s any kind of trickery by webmasters or search-engine optimizers to artificially increases their ranking in search results.

So according to Tim any attempt to deceive the SEs to artificially increase rankings would be considered search engine spam. I have a feeling that Matt Cutts would agree with that definition.

What happens if your site gets caught spamming the search engines? The worst thing that can happen is they completely remove the site from their index.

Who is responsible for spam on your site? You are even if it was done by another party such as an SEO that you hired.

What can you do if you get caught spamming? Make sure all the spam has been removed. Then you can e-mail the SE, tell them what was wrong and assure them that the bad stuff has been removed.

Will this insure that your site gets re-included? I don’t think anyone can guarantee that. Larger, older, established sites my be re-included within a matter of days. For other sites it may take months.

Why take the risk? If you have a site that is important don’t take short cuts and don’t employ a SEO who will take shortcuts.

April 20, 2006

Changing Domain Names

Filed under: SEO General — Connie @ 8:59 pm

One thing that comes up in the forums from time to time is how to change a domain to a new name. Personally I can think of more reasons why this would be a bad move rather than valid reasons why this would be a good move.

Even if I had a site cats.com and decided to change to dogs.com I think I would keep the existing domain name If it were established. If I were going to change the domain name I think the only way to do this properly with the least risk is to use a 301 redirect.

A few months ago a well known SEO Jill Whalen published this article in her news letter.

Switching to a New Domain Without Losing Your Google Rankings Jill introduced the article with these comments.

Today’s article by Scottie Claiborne is a nice follow up to my Google patent article because Scottie explains how to change your domain name without getting creamed by Google’s aging delay.

Frankly that surprised me because as far as I remember Jill has always promoted the 301 redirect.

In fact Jill has published two different articles in her newsletter which I think are related.

Changing Domain Names and How To Redirect Multiple Parked Domains.

In Scottie’s article she is advocating the use of a 302 redirect when changing domain names. I disagree for at least 3 reasons.

  • If you redirect using a 302 you are telling the SE that the move is temporary
  • You are trying to fool the SEs to maintain PR
  • Google has had known problems with 302’s for a long time. I think using a 302 in this situation could get your site banned.

If you redirect using a 301 you are telling the SE that the move is permanent.

When using a 302 you are saying the page has moved temporarily but will be back. Obviously if you have changed domain names the page has moved permanently.

I would say use a 302 at your own risk. What works today may not tomorrow. What works today may bite you in the but tomorrow.

For additional reading I would suggest this article by my good friend Irina Ponomareva (aka Irony)

301 Moved Permanently: How to Use It Correctly for SEO

Irina deals with both the 301 redirect and the 302 redirect.

She discusses the proper use of each and the possible dangers if either are misused.

Cloud Nine

Filed under: Scams — Connie @ 7:43 pm

Doug (aka ihelpyou) posted about this a few hours ago. Anyone Heard of This Company . Obviously the company in question is Cloud Nine. From what I have been able to understand they seem to use the same tactics as Traffic Power (TP). Cold Calls and a lot of sales pressure. They have a different twist.

The website is www.cnpbs1.com. They are promoting a new technology which is IFrames. It really surprised me the IFrames was a new technology.

What it appears that they are doing is selling keywords based on the number of people who have their spyware/adware installed on their computer.

For more information read the post in this forum techvibes.

This kind of crap has to be stopped. No telling how many new unaware webmasters have fallen for this scam.

How can it be stopped? IMHO forums who do not endorse this kind of scam should speak out against it and reveal the company.

In the US their are nonprofits for things like save the whales. Why is there no organization for saving the new uninformed webmaster from being bilked of sometimes several thousand dollars?

Since there is no unified organization that is intrested in protecting the innocent, I think it is imperative that everyone, (blog or forum) take up the cause, unless you agree with the scam artist.

April 12, 2006

Choosing a SEO

Filed under: SEO General — Connie @ 3:51 pm

What would I do If I were looking for a SEO?

1. Read in forums. I have suggested a few forums, and other resources that I trust in the right common navigation of this blog.

2. Do some personal correspondence with the SEO you are thinking about

3. Ask for some references

I would not post a blanket statement “I’m looking for a SEO” in a forum. You may end up with hundreds of e-mail or PM’s from every want to be SEO who reads in the form offering their services at ridiculously low prices.

Price is not everything, but I don’t think any worthwhile SEO is going to optimize your site for 19.95 per month.

I think you need to read my proceeding comments on what I would avoid in choosing a SEO.

Be careful about who you choose because in the end Google will hold you responsible.

SEO’s to Avoid

Filed under: SEO General — Connie @ 2:12 pm

This question seems to come up a lot in SEO forums. How do I pick a SEO? Originally I meant to post about things to avoid, and things to do when choosing a SEO.

Today Doug (aka ihelpyou) started a thread about JetRanking.com which seems to be a good example of most of the things I would avoid when looking at a perspective SEO. The web site is jetranking.com.

  1. Cold calls
  2. Sends unsolicited spam e-mail
  3. Promises that seem to good to be true
  4. SEO site that is nothing but a long sales letter
  5. SEO promotes tools that are against the TOS of the SEs
  6. Company is not doing things correctly on their own site
  7. Company who charges a monthly maintenance fee
  8. Builds Doorway page, or mini sites
  9. Emphasis is on ranking rather than ROI
  10. Emphasizes Links and PR to help with ranking

Companies who cold call, and send UCE are playing the percentage game. They know they will get a certain amount of suckers to milk for every call or e-mail sent. I think the majority of those who fall for this will eventually regret it.

Promises that sound to good to be true usually are.

Something I would not do is post in a forum that I was looking for an SEO. You have no idea who will e-mail you or send you a PM. When choosing an SEO you need to know something about who you are dealing with.

A few things that makes JetRanking stand out to me. They send out Spam e-mail. They focus on links. They promise results in the e-mail that they can’t deliver.

JetRanking either owns or is associated with and promotes millions of webpages that are basically identically except for the domain name. These are the kind of links they want to sell which will push your site to the top.

Sadly a certain percentage of unknowing webmasters will fall for this scheme.

Perhaps even sadder is the fact that many SEOs who would not participate in that link building scheme, will probably criticize those of us who attempt to expose it.

Unfortunately many SEOs believe the buyer should beware. Though I agree with the fact the buyer should beware, how are new webmasters going to find the information they need If no one reports the offending sites.

April 10, 2006

Hidden Text is Spam

Filed under: Search Engine Spam — Connie @ 3:17 pm

Anthony Parson’s forum is a valuable resource to find out about Search Engine Spam. Anthony also has a directory, and because he or his editors check each listing very carefully they find a lot of Spam from sites submitting to the directory.

Anthony posted a link to a site that is blatantly using hidden text a few days ago. Want To See Spam?

The site in question is http://www.factoryoutletshopping.com.au/victoria/default.htm. Do a right click or a Ctrl A and see the hidden text.

This is the worst example of hidden text that I have ever seen.

If they remove the hidden text I do have a screen shot and have saved the webpage in question as evidense.< /p>

April 7, 2006

Doorway Page Generators

Filed under: Scams — Connie @ 5:24 pm

I was checking a referral from Google today for the keyword subdomains “page generator” black hat. I noticed the adds on the page. There were only two. The first one goes to a custom 404 error page. The second one is another story.

Screen Capture

I realize that there are probably 1000s of sites that have crap software page generators like this.

But since Google in the webmaster guidelines warns against Doorway pages why is AdWords selling adds for this crap? Because AdWords and even Adsense seem to have their own guidelines. I think there are some areas where all the departments needs to get their act together. This is one of them.

Specifically from the guidelines:

Quality Guidelines – Specific recommendations:

Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.

The Company (doorwaygenerator.com.ar) make a lot of claims that I just don’t buy.

I advise anyone to stay away from automated programs that create webpages regardless of what the maker claims.

You may only waste your money, but you may well get your site banned in the future. The creator of the software is going to prosper either way. They don’t care about you. They only want to make money from the software.

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