Spam Whackers

Exposing Various Types of Spam – Offering SEO & Webmaster Tips

March 29, 2007

Automated SE Queries

Filed under: SEO General — Connie @ 2:47 pm

A question that comes up from time to time in SEO related forums is which tool to use to Query the SEs or something similar.

Personally I do not think you should use any automated tool, because most will violate the TOS of most SEs. Google warns specifically about using WebPosition Gold in their Webmaster guidelines.

Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.

This seems to be so much of a problem right now with MSN that they have turned off some advanced operators that SEOs might normally use.

For those of you who use some of the advanced query syntax in our search engine such as link:, linkdomain: and inurl:, you may have noticed that this functionality has been recently turned off. We have been seeing broad use of these features by legitimate users but unfortunately also what appears to be mass automated usage for data mining. So for now, we have made the tough call to block all queries with these operators.

Why do SEOs want to use these automated tools? Best I can figure out they promise their clients reports, to justify part of the cost of their services. Putting together the information for these meaningless reports is time consuming, so people want an automatic way to gather the information.

I’m not an SEO but if I were, I would not be providing this type of report with my services. I would think it would be pretty simple to teach a client how to do their own searches.

To me it is more important to see an increase in sales, or whatever the customer wants, rather than traffic. Only the customer can see increased ROI.

Increased rankings and traffic can be meaningless if that traffic does not convert.

Don’t believe everything you read

Filed under: SEO General — Irony @ 12:41 am

The today’s StepForth newsletter brought me a new article by Scott Van Achte named “Don’t believe everything you read”. It can be found on the StepForth site here.

I must say from the start that I respect Scott and the whole StepForth team very much, and their newsletter is the only SEO-related newsletter I’m still subscribed for. And of course I agree with Scott that you shouldn’t believe everything you read about SEO. Actually, it’s an understatement.

But then Scott proceeds to give advice on how to check an SEO-related article for being trustworthy. His first advice is:

First check out the author. Is it a name you recognize? What are his or her credentials? Have they been around for a while? Are you able to find their articles on any creditable SEO news websites?

C’mon! I can think of quite a few “recognized” names who will from time to time give you very odd advice, to say the least. Some of them are seasoned (and proudly so) blackhats, others are (officially) whitehats, but with a few weird ideas, and too stubborn to part with their ideas even when proven wrong. That’s exactly the trouble of our industry: even the renowned authorities aren’t always safe to take advice from.

The #2 and #3 tips given by Scott are good, and then Scott also adds:

I want to throw in an extra note here. It is very possible that you could stumble upon an article by an unknown name, with no website, and no prior history of contributing articles to any news publications, and it is very possible that this article and author are highly knowledgeable.

Very true! My dear friend Connie here is a great example: he has never done SEO for clients, only for himself – and yet I would rather take advice from him than from some “recognized names”.

I would like to repeat again: don’t trust everything you read! If you wish to learn SEO, be prepared to take the wrong path, and more than once. Only by trial and error will you find the methods and techniques that work for you and develop your own, unique SEO style (SEO is an art, you know). But whatever you do, let your common sense and conscience be your guide. They will help you separate the right advice from the wrong one, and find the right answers to your questions.

March 15, 2007

Invisible Text. Or Visible?

Filed under: Search Engine Spam — Irony @ 2:29 am

Yesterday, I saw an interesting example of a site heavily spammed with text that was supposed to be invisible.

The SEO spammer has used very dark gray text on a black background. At first I didn’t suspect anything (it was all black to me), but habitually clicked Ctrl+A and immediately saw all the spam. Then, when I already knew where to look, I could see that there was “something” there, but reading it was still out of the question.

I use the Samsung SyncMaster 755 DFX monitor (an electron-beam kind), because I hate LCD monitors. But my colleague uses an LCD, and when he opened the same site on his PC, we noticed the difference. LCD monitors support fewer colors than electron-beam monitors do, so it couldn’t display the dark gray color picked by the spammer for the spammy text. It replaced that color automatically with a lighter shade of gray – light enough to be seen and read. Heh heh… since it was meaningless keyword stuffing, it was still spam, and so the site in question was already banned by Google at the time I was reviewing it.

Hey you, spammers… if you insist upon using this silly technique that was outdated 10 years ago, at least take the trouble to look at your spam through different monitors. 

March 12, 2007

How to Spend Your SEO Budget

Filed under: Articles by Irony,SEO General — Irony @ 8:19 am

These days, if you would like to have a quality, professional-looking site, you can’t neglect the SEO factor. Being friendly to the search engines has become a must. But how do you properly distribute your SEO budget to make sure it won’t be wasted?

Time has made its corrections to the problem. Advice on spending an SEO budget in 2007 is very different from what the SEO experts might have told you in 2003 or even in 2005.

Invest in design

In the past, the search engines had to work on what was available to them. In search of web pages relevant to a query they often had to rank poorly coded and unfriendly sites highly in the SERPs, and invent different ways to bypass unfriendly design. They can still do it, but on the other hand they can afford to be much pickier now. Unless the query is really very obscure, the chances are there will be a lot of sites available to match it, and the engines can put the highest quality sites at the top.

That brings forward the importance of good quality design. I don’t claim to know for sure that the engines already give a boost to the sites with valid HTML code or table-free layouts, and if they do, there is no way to tell how big that boost is. But it’s obvious that sites with friendly, static URLs are much easier to get ranked highly than are those with obscure URLs having several parameters in the query. Also, Google shows sites with dynamic URLs as mostly Supplemental Results more often, which is not a good thing, either.

So, here goes the first SEO advice of the year 2007: invest in design. It’s worth the money to hire a good web designer who knows how to build search engine friendly sites and can provide a search engine friendly CMS. It might be worth spending a little money in advance to hire an independent SEO consultant to make an assessment of the previous work of the designer you are about to hire. In the long run this investment will pay for itself.

Invest in content

No matter how the rules of the SEO game change, one thing remains: the engines love good content. In most niches (except the most competitive ones) adding a page of properly optimised text with a matching title and meta tags, and incorporating it properly into the structure of a search engine friendly site brings new good rankings fairly soon. Besides, adding good educational content on a regular basis is the only way to build real natural links.

There are a lot of methods of link building, some of them appropriate, others questionable, and many others totally unethical. But the point is that regardless of the method, all links that are built cannot by definition be natural. They can look natural in some cases, but that does not make them natural.

All methods of link building that are known to search engine optimisers are known to search engine engineers as well. And no matter how closely those links resemble natural links, they will sooner or later show a detectable pattern and will be recognised as built links. What to do with this knowledge is for the engines to decide. Lately, they have been known to give a lot more authority to natural links than to links that have been built, which is only logical. Natural links are those that have been earned by a site through its being appreciated by users, and that is what the engines look for.

I’m not saying that it is necessarily a bad thing to build links – it depends entirely on the method. There are a lot of legitimate methods of promoting websites such as press releases and directory submissions. These links bring us visitors, and to some of them the engines still give certain weight. But they are not natural links.

Frankly, I can’t see any webmaster giving a natural link from a content page to a page that has purely business-related information (unless it is a review of a business). It’s a lot more logical to expect a link from within one article to another that was used as a source or has helped the writer to reinforce a point. But if it is a link to a business site, it seems more logical to place it on a resource page. But…

We all know that resource pages have been utterly devalued by both web surfers and the engines due to heavy abuse over the years with what is known as a “reciprocal link exchange”. As a result, Google de-listed most resource pages during 2006, and devalued links coming from most of the remaining pages of this type. Links from content pages are a lot more likely to get clicked and to pass link value to the destination page. This gives us another reason to invest our SEO money in good educational content. Thus we genuinely benefit from giving.

Invest in self-education

If you learn the basics of SEO, you won’t have to pay to a consultant for developing titles and meta tags for every page of content you are about to upload. You will be able to do it yourself, along with proper internal linking, validating the code of the new page and other aspects.

You will be able to do directory submissions for your site, which is the best solution anyway because nobody knows all about your site better than you do. You will be able to establish contacts with other practitioners in your field that might bring you fresh opportunities for quality link building that an SEO would surely miss.

However, you need to know how to avoid bad neighbourhoods, and this requires special SEO knowledge that goes far beyond SEO basics. If you invest in developing this knowledge, your self-confidence will grow, and you will feel much better on the web.

Still have some money left?

Submit your site to Yahoo! Directory. Launch a small PPC campaign. If you have time, join one or more paid Business Networking sites, e.g. Ecademy, LinkedIn or Xing. They will give you still more opportunities to publicise your services, as well as some link building opportunities – but paid management teams will make sure you won’t be able to abuse them. Free networks too often get abused by spammers, scammers and other weird people.

Still have more? Invest in more content!

March 9, 2007

E-Mail Spam from a Friend

Filed under: E-Mail Spam — Connie @ 3:58 pm

Received this e-mail from a friend today. It’s humorous because he does not follow the advice given in the e-mail. He sends me stuff all the time that is in support of some political issue. He he also sends e-mail to a list of friends, although it looks like he has learned to use the bc field rather than the cc field.
THIS E-MAIL IS PROBABLY SPAM BUT AT LEAST IT COULD BE THE LAST ONE WITH
WHICH YOU DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

STOP SENDING OUT THE E-MAILS TO YOUR 10 FRIENDS MOST IN NEED OF
RELIGION, HEALTH, SEX OR WHATEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DON’T SIGN AND SEND WORTHLESS PETITIONS TO
ANYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!

Did You Know this about SPAM?

You should read this!

Pass this one on to all your e-mail buddies. It is full
of good advice especially about the “cookies.”

To whom it may concern:
Just a word to the wise. E-mail petitions are NOT acceptable to
Congress or any other municipality. To be acceptable petitions must
have a signed signature and full address.

Almost all e-mails that ask you to add your name and forward on to
others are similar to that mass letter years ago that asked people to
send business cards to the little kid in Florida who wanted to break the

Guinness Book of Records for the most cards. All it was, and all this
type of e-mail is, to get names and “cookie” tracking info for
tele-marketers and spammers to validate active e-mail accounts for their

own purposes.

Any time you see an e-mail that says forward this on to “10” of your
friends, sign this petition, or you’ll get good luck, or whatever, it
has either an e-mail tracker program attached that tracks the cookies
and e-mails of those folks you forward to, or the host sender is getting
a copy each time it gets forwarded and then is able to get lists of
“active” e-mails to use in spam e-mails, or sell to others that do.

Please forward this notice to others and you will be providing a good
service to your friends, and will be rewarded by not getting 30,000 spam
e-mails in the future.

(If you have been sending out the above kinds of email, now you know why

you get so much spam!)

March 5, 2007

Stealing Content useing a Frameset

Filed under: General — Connie @ 10:05 pm

Here is a post at IHY that provides some additional information. I discovered that another site (Searchguild) was reproducing at least one of our webpages on their site. They were doing this using a frameset. They were not showing adds on the page, so the only reason I can think of for doing this, is for some benefit to their site in regards to the SEs.Since they were reproducing an entire web page without my permission it seems to me that this is theft.

This is different than using a RSS feed to pull a snippet from an article, or simply quoting a few lines from an article, and linking back to the original article. At least it’s different IMO. They were reproducing the entire web page.
If they had asked I might have given them permission. They did not ask.

I intended to e-mail them, but I did not see any contact information on their site.

New webmasters need to realize there are various ways that sites can steal your content.

There are ways to prevent a site from stealing your content, using frames. But if a webmaster does not know about the potential danger, they are not likely to take preventative action.

If you have a WP blog there is a plug in that will stop someone from stealing your content using frames called frame buster.

March 4, 2007

The Value of Links

Filed under: Links — Connie @ 4:13 pm

Michael Martinez posted a short article on Spider-Food forums titled “Measuring the value that links pass“.

Each search engine determines for itself what value a link will pass within its database. But Webmasters have long recognized that links pass value beyond that recognized by the search engines. Generally speaking, any link is potentially capable of passing one or more of the following values:

* Traffic
* Visibility
* Crawling
* Anchor Text
* PageRank
* Trust

Over the last several weeks Michael has written a lot of articles on his SEO Theory Blog, that include a lot of good information in regard to links. A lot of what he has written is theory. Then that’s the purpose of the blog. Read through his articles over the last couple of weeks, and he will give you a lot to think about.

March 2, 2007

JaguarPC is a great Web-Host

Filed under: General — Connie @ 6:47 pm

Where your website is hosted can help or hurt you with the SEs. If a site is continuously down this can hurt. If a host does not allow complete control over your site such as .htaccess and mod_rewrite this can cause problems.

OK I’m prejudiced, but I think I have reason to be. JaguarPC was my second host. Honestly I don’t remember who my first host was. I do remember their support was terrible.

If I remember correctly I got something like 25 MB storage space for something like $16.95 per month. Because of my dissatisfaction with my host at that time, I started looking for a new host. I had a few domain names, so I would sign up for a 30 day free trial. Frankly none of them impressed me.

Somehow I stumbled across JaguarPC. They were a small company based in Alaska at the time. JaguarPC offered 50 MB storage for $9.95 per month. I did a few e-mail exchanges with them, and decided to move Condells to JaguarPC.

I won’t say it has all been a bed of roses, but on a scale on 1 to 10 I would rate JaguarPC as a 9+ in regard to support and services. JaguarPC has made a lot of updates since I first started hosting with them. Some of those updates have been painless. Some updates have not.

I think possibly the worst experience I have had with JaguarPC was when they moved to their own data center in Houston TX a few years ago. Yea they had a plain, but it did not work out as expected.

Even with the few glitches along the way over the years, my overall experience with JaguarPC is nothing but positive.

Jag has upgraded my original plan a few times over the years, with no additional cost to me. Each time Jag increased what I received from them, and grandfathered a few benefits such as a dedicated IP along the way. Anyone can get a dedicated IP at Jag for $1.00 per month now, but my dedicated IPs are free.

The most recent upgrade was an upgrade to my accounts to include 17 GB of disk storage space, 210 GB of data transfer per month. Frankly I don’t remember what the data transfer was previous to this.

Actually my hosting fees are less than what they were when I first signed up. A little over a year ago I finally switched to an annual payment plan. I think that breaks down to $7.95 per month. For me I’m getting a lot more for less.

Sign up with JaguarPC and the cost will not change when Jag upgrades a plan and offers a special to new customers. Existing customers will automatically be upgraded according to this post on their blog. Your hosting fee will be grandfathered.

Review Jags Plans. You may find one that is just right for you.

You might also want to read this blog post about server upgrades.

I don’t think you will find a better host.

A Few Secrets of SEO Copywriting

Filed under: Articles by Irony,SEO General — Irony @ 4:37 am
The date of the first publication: October 1, 2004

SEO copywriting is the core of the overall SEO process. If your site contains no copy, search engine spiders will have nothing to work with. If your copy is not properly written for SEO purposes, it will never bring you really good search engine rankings. Conversely, if your copy is written with only SE spiders in mind, it will repel your human visitors and detrimentally affect your business reputation.

How do we find a balance between an optimal keyword density and a good marketing pitch? How do we please spiders without displeasing humans? It already sounds complicated. You might already be thinking of ways to feed one variation of your page to search engines and another to your human audience – if you are, stop here! The point is to make the same copy equally attractive to both types of site visitors, not to deceive or abuse. We are here not to discuss spammy SEO methods.

An optimal keyword density is not 60% or 80% – that would turn your text into unreadable nonsense, and smart search engine algorithms will immediately see it is artificially stuffed. They know how to tell natural from unnatural language, so the good news is that you won’t lose out by using your normal writing style when copywriting for search engines. Just remember about your keywords – it is easy to include them for the simple reason that they are relevant to your topic. SEO copywriting – conveniently enough – becomes your best friend when you wish to make your copy clear and descriptive for human readers.

What is an optimal keyword density? It is widely believed that it is somewhere between 3% and 4%, but that is not a rule. With directories, it is often higher, but that’s good, too. It is not the result of artificial manipulation – it just happens when you include titles and descriptions of all the listed web resources, which, provided the directory is categorised well, should be relevant to the same theme.

But directories are directories, and SEO copywriting is another thing. There is really no need to count the words or calculate the percentage of keywords. If you are not sure that it is optimal, put your keywords into the Google toolbar and click the highlighter to highlight your words in different colours. It helps a lot. With experience, you will soon see if your page is under-optimized – or worse, over-optimized – and make the necessary corrections.

SEO copywriting tips

Be subtle. Nobody but a very experienced SE optimizer should guess at a glance what you are targeting.

Be creative. Targeting words for SEO purposes doesn’t mean your copy should become poor. All the general rules of good copywriting still apply. Humans should enjoy reading your copy and easily grasp your ideas.

Be logical. Include your targeted key phrases in link anchor text to send your visitors to related pages, but do it for usability’s sake first and SEO purposes second. Never abuse the method; it looks highly unprofessional when abused.

Be descriptive. Optimize your title tags, headers and sub-headers. Include your key phrases in them – but again make sure you do not overuse them here. The first rule of good quality SEO is never overuse or abuse.

Be expressive and friendly. Yes, spiders are insensitive to human emotions, but remember that your readers are more important to you and that people react emotionally. Spiders are said to be insensitive to emotions … but are they really? Sometimes it looks as if they are as emotional as we are – rewarding our spider-friendliness with good search engine rankings and penalising us for being indifferent.

If you think of spiders as your adored pets, your SEO campaign will be successful and your SEO copywriting perfect and skilful.

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