Spam Whackers

Exposing Various Types of Spam – Offering SEO & Webmaster Tips

October 29, 2006

The Newbie Networker’s Story

Filed under: General — Irony @ 9:52 am

About 4 months ago, in search of new ways to promote and develop my business, I decided to test the effectiveness of online Business Networking (since I live so far away from my target audience, offline Networking didn’t make sense to me). My boss advised me to start at Ecademy.com, a medium-sized international Networking site with UK roots.

When I first joined Ecademy, I couldn’t help feeling some scepticism. Guess it’s common for people to feel scepticism and apprehension when we get into something new for the first time. Also, knowing how SEO spammers tend to abuse everything on the Net that can be used for promotion, including Social Bookmarking and Social Networking sites, I expected Ecademy to be equally abused.

I started my way through Ecademy feeling shy and uncertain. It took me several days to get acquainted with the interface of the site, and a lot more to grasp the concept of Networking. Other people were running clubs; in those days I thought I would never run one, but joined a few clubs quickly, including a few related to SEO and Internet Marketing. Ecademy clubs are very similar to ordinary forums, so I felt more or less at home there. Soon, I started feeling more confidence about my Ecademy activities and posted a few blogs. To my surprise, they attracted a lot of attention, and my SEO articles republished at Ecademy soon brought me a few requests for quotation, and then a real client.

When I’m online (which is my most natural condition) I’m always hungry for making new friends. At Ecademy, this hunger was very easy to satisfy. In most cases, I didn’t have to initiate the first contact: other Ecademists were sending me messages now and again. Especially when I just joined, I was literally overwhelmed with the number of “welcome to Ecademy” messages, and many of them were offering me help in getting to know how it works. I readily replied to those that looked personalized but soon learned to detect and ignore ”Copy and Paste” type stuff and blatant unsolicited marketing pitch. Some contacts soon turned into enriching and fruitful relationships. It wasn’t hard: all it takes to make friends at Ecademy is to be nice to people. I happily shared my SEO knowledge with everyone who asked (the habit acquired at IHelpYou forums and in other SEO places), and soon became a favorite of many.

I’m pleased to say that Ecademy is not abused by spammers, though huge authority of the domain makes it a delicious meal for everyone PR-obsessed, link-greedy and ranking-hungry. Links from Ecademy pass enormous authority to all websites and quickly boost the rankings, and many Ecademists get tempted to abuse Ecademy blogs and Marketplace for SEO purposes, but the Best Practices Team keeps watching the site day and night and ruthlessly pulling everything that doesn’t offer real value to the Ecademy community and guest readers.

Before long, I found myself truly obsessed with Ecademy. To this day, I run three Ecademy clubs (two of them as a co-leader, and the third as the first and only leader). I would love to think this number won’t grow much, but how can I be sure? Ecademy principles, Best Practices and the concept of “Emotional Wealth” preached by the owners and the team running the Network, found good response in my heart. I need to explain what Emotional Wealth means: in short, it’s the principle of winning by sharing (in the sense of karma) and putting people first and business second. The more you give, the more friends you make; friends make you wealthier emotionally, and then they open the doors for you to find new opportunities, including business opportunities, if it’s important for you. Some Ecademists are not into business at all; they stay in the Network for the pleasure of Networking as such. They love it, and they are loved.

I no longer care how many clients I can pick up at Ecademy. I can’t imagine abusing this wonderful site for rankings or links. We don’t abuse what we love, and I love Ecademy.

Several days ago I also joined the Open BC Network. Someone save me please! Mayday, mayday, mayday…. 

 

October 25, 2006

My own version of the search engine spam classification

Filed under: Search Engine Spam — Irony @ 1:46 am

When we say “spam”, people usually think about unsolicited commercial emails only. But there are many other forms of spam on the Internet, and honestly, when I think of “spam”, it’s search engine spam first, and unsolicited commercial emails only second or third (there is also such thing as forum spam, and it’s very annoying, too).

So, what is search engine spam?

In short, it’s the common name for all techniques and methods used to intentionally deceive the search engines about the relevancy of a site/page to certain keywords or the authority of the site. It also refers to SEO methods that spoil the look and feel of websites and the user’s experience in favor of the search engine relevancy and rankings.

Search engine spam can be on-page (techniques applied to the website itself) or off-page (unethical link building strategies).

The most often mentioned on-page spammy techniques are these:

  • Keyword stuffing. Keywords are included in the web copy to catch the engine’s attention; to a human being they look meaningless and pointless; often their density within the copy reaches such levels that the text becomes impossible to read.
  • Invisible text. There are many ways to make text invisible. The most primitive one is to make the characters of the same colour (or almost the same) as the background, but in this case it will be visible if you click Ctrl+A to highlight the whole page. The text can also be placed outside the page using CSS, hidden using JavaScript, have the visibility attribute set to hidden, etc… In all cases it’s deception and spam, unless there is an event programmed using JavaScript, which makes this text visible when a visitor performs certain action (like moving the mouse over the menu).
  • Invisible links. Hyperlinks hidden using one of the methods mentioned above, or invisible/auxiliary linked images. Hidden links usually point to the so-called doorway pages (see below), or link partners the site owner is not proud of.
  • Doorway pages/domains. Doorway pages are usually optimized for certain keywords, but have no value for real visitors, their content is often meaningless, or it is just the same page copied many times with only one main keyword replaced in the copy and in the URL. Doorway pages often get redirected to the real page using JavaScript-redirect or meta refresh redirect; alternatively, they may contain links the visitors should click to get to the real page. Doorway pages can be hosted within the same domain as the main site, but since it’s dangerous, sometimes they are hosted on disposable doorway domains registered for just this purpose.
  • Cloaking. This is the technique allowing detection of search engine robots by their IP addresses and/or user-agents. Once a robot is detected, it receives a completely different page from what any other user-agent (e.g. browser) will receive.
  • Attribute keyword stuffing. Alt and title attributes of images and links get stuffed with unrelated keywords. Becomes especially obvious when an alt attribute of an invisible 1-pixel image – like spacer.gif – contains a long sequence of keywords. It’s an example of useless spam, because the engines mostly look at alt attributes of linked images and practically ignore them if the image is not linked.
  • Improper use of headings. <h1>-<h6>tags are used within paragraphs, though they are supposed to mark headings. To blend with the rest of the paragraph, they get re-styled using CSS styles.
  • <Noframes>, <noscript> and <noembed> tag misuse. The page is done using Flash, frames or JavaScript (e.g. the document.write function). Then one of the mentioned tags is used to create an area in the HTML code of the page, stuffed with unrelated content, which is otherwise not displayed on the page. Sometimes a 1-pixel frame is used to justify the use of the <noframes> tags. Actually, a 1-pixel frame means something dodgy in most cases.
  • The second title tag. The most useless spam, as the engines ignore the second title tag for ranking purposes, but are known to have banned sites for doing it.
  • Comment stuffing. There is no need to stuff comments with keywords, because the engines ignore comments.

The most well known unethical off-page strategies are the following:

  • FFA (free for all) pages and link farms. FFAs are long pages full of uncategorized links, where everyone can submit a site (these links add zero authority to websites, but in some cases can hurt them). Link farms are large link schemes, in which all members link their sites to all other members, which is often achieved using an automated script.
  • Heavily cross-linked websites. Means websites linking to all other sites in the group from each page. Often used by owners of many different sites, but can be done to sites owned by different people also. In both cases it’s a sure way to receive a severe ranking penalty.
  • Link-farm type directory networks. Actually link farms, but dressed as directories. The best way to avoid them is staying away from all directories requiring a reciprocal link for inclusion.
  • Automated link exchanges. This is SEO spam and email spam at once.
  • Automated or manual spam of blogs, forums, classifieds and guestbooks. Quite self-explanatory.

Using any of the above mentioned techniques can cause a severe penalty or a permanent ban of a website from the search engine indices! If you know of a website that is employing such techniques, don’t link to this website, as “bad neighborhoods” can hurt your website also!

October 24, 2006

Welcome Irony

Filed under: General — Connie @ 11:23 am

Irony (Irina) welcome to spam-whackers as a Editor (contributor, and author). I look forward to your continued contributions to the blog. You have been supportive of spam-whackers from day one. I appreciate the help that you have given since I launched spam-whackers.

October 23, 2006

Hello folks :)

Filed under: General — Irony @ 1:19 am

As a new contributor to the Spam-Whackers blog, I would like to greet all the readers and to say “Thank you, Connie, for your trust in me!” Good to be here. I have always enjoyed whacking spam.

I’ll do my best to provide some delicious (or at least funny) stuff on a more or less regular basis.

 

Yours,

Irina “Irony” Ponomareva 

 

October 11, 2006

Exposing SEO’s

Filed under: SEO General — Connie @ 6:42 pm

What I mean is should those involved in the SEO industry expose SEO’s who seem to be unethical. Should we name a company, or simply talk about their unethical practice in general?

A recent thread at HR and then a follow up thread at IHY, causes me to raise this question.

Should those who are involved in the SEO industry try to police the industry to some extent. I think so.

There are many who are new to SEO who get scammed frequently for many reasons. One reason is if they search for a company they can’t find out any critical information about the company because most SEO forums will not allow a specific company to be named.

Doctors, Lawyers, and Contractors live under rules and regulations. If they violate those rules they can be held accountable.

The SEO industry is free of those regulations. It is up to those involved in the industry to police it.

There are forums in the web hosting industry that evaluate web host. People can post whatever complaints they have. Why do we not have the same type of self regulation in the SEO industry?

Is it because some forum owners are more interested in protecting their spammer buddies, than they are in protecting new webmasters?

October 9, 2006

Spam That Makes you Laugh.

Filed under: E-Mail Spam — Connie @ 1:40 pm

Jeremy Zawodny who works for Yahoo posted about some spam that he received to day. One was a SEO e-mail Spammer. The other was from a blog spammer. Both are funny at least to me.

You need to see the screen shot to really appreciate this. The short of the story is the e-mail spammer told him they could get his site www.yahoo-inc.com to the top of the SERPs. www.yahoo-inc.com is not a valid URL and results in a 404 error page. The URL is not his.

Jeremy did a screen shot in regard to the e-mail spammer and the blog spammer.

You can see both by looking at Jeremy’s inbox post.

October 6, 2006

oBot Good Bad or Ugly?

Filed under: Robots-Spiders — Connie @ 7:41 pm

I had noticed oBot in my logs files previously. I was looking through my September logs and noticed a lot of hits from oBot. I also noticed that oBot was mainly getting jpg files. So I did a little Googleling. There were two threads at WMW about oBot. I’ll call them oBot 1 and oBot 2.

It seems this bot is out of Germany. You can see the DNS info here. The main IP that is being used on my site is 213.252.152.15. The block is 213.252.152.0 – 213.252.152.255.

I have no idea what this bot is up to. I do know that I do not need a bot from Germany crawling my site, eating up my bandwidth, so oBot has gone into the blocked bots file.

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