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Spam Reporting 2
Posted 25 December 2004 - 10:30 PM
Until now, I figured it was a waste of effort. But going forward, if nothing else, I can at least report to my client that the offenders have been reported. The issue is that if they then aren't removed... the client may think that spam is the way to go.
Some things that seem to be true (and your guess is as good as mine, but this is my take on it):
1) Relevant spam is often not removed
If the site is popular and critical to the SERP, as in people expect it to be there, it won't be removed.
Often less popular spamming sites that are still relevant aren't penalized or removed. This has been my frustration with spam reporting and why I don't bother.
2) Algorithmic penalties do exist
I can't tell you exactly what they are or to what extent they have to exist before they trigger a penalty, but I've seen many sites that rebound after the junk is cleaned out without any further action. I think they do catch the cruder forms of on-page spamming.
3) Some sites do well despite spam techniques, but probably not because of them
This is the hardest one to explain to a client. The client sees site a at #1, they have hidden text, and despite a report and your best efforts, site a remains #1. Client decides to beat site a, they need to hire someone willing to employ the same techniques.
In any case, the black hats have convinced me that it is worth the effort to at least send the report in. Otherwise, I'm not serving my client as I should. No matter which side of the fence you are on, serving the client to the best of your abilities seems to be a common theme.
Posted 26 December 2004 - 07:34 AM
But I can report that the ODP is happy to receive spam reports, and they act quickly on them. A client of mine had a competitor who had set up a mirror site and submitted it to a related category of the ODP, so their two identical sites each had a listing in different categories. I pointed this out to an editor, and the second site was gone, I think within a day. And they thanked me for my help
Posted 26 December 2004 - 09:36 AM
A couple of years ago a competing site had a description that went something along the lines "1,000's of free <whatever>" but there was actually nothing free available on the site anymore. I assume there was at one time, but the site had long since been commercialized.
Somebody, not me but I know who, reported this rather obvious site description error to ODP. Two weeks later the site had been entirely removed from their database. A few weeks after that they lost a ton of the ODP feed users backlinks. I guess it was easier for them to simply remove it than to try and update the listing.
Posted 26 December 2004 - 10:29 AM
I reported a site that was supposedly about the Indian fashion business -- that's where it was categorized, that's what its description said, and its domain name implied the same, but it was a porn site. AFAIK, they just removed it rather than moving it to an adult cat. I'd say they were right to do that. The fact that they bought a domain name that had been associated with something completely different from what their site was really about (or just changed the subject-matter of their own site) is a pretty clear indication that they were trying to fool people.
Posted 26 December 2004 - 12:41 PM
Posted 26 December 2004 - 05:34 PM
Posted 27 December 2004 - 11:00 AM
I tried to report a site that was cloaking pages from one of my sites and was attacked as if I was the one doing something wrong!
DMOZ most certainly does not seem to care if the site is spamming as long as it is categorized correctly and has a reasonable description. And if you report it, they will treat YOU as the wrongdoer.
Posted 27 December 2004 - 11:45 AM
It seems to me that reporting spam is a lot like reporting bugs when testing computer software (something I have done in the past).
As Grumpus hinted at in the sibling article you wrote, if you just say "Hey, this is broken!" then your feedback is ignored. However, if you say "Hey, this appears to be broken / misbehaving because of reason 1, reason 2, reason 3, reason 4, and it should be doing ___." then it will get a lot more (and appropriate) attention & has a much better chance of getting "fixed". By rationally & logically "pleading your case" you increase the chances of favorable action being taken.
Posted 27 December 2004 - 03:18 PM
Put yourself in the reviewer's shoes. You get, say for math's sake, 80 reports that you are expected to deal with over the course of the day. You work 10 hours a day, so you have to do 8 an hour or 1 every six minutes.
So, if a report comes in with no explanation, the reviewer has to focus their entire 6 minutes on determining just what the reporter thought was wrong with the listing. Then he must look up the results and see if those are all relevant. Then he must determine if the page really doesn't belong there. Then he must determine the method used to get the page to rank. Then he must determine if the page is at all relevant. Finally, if there's still time on the clock after all of this, he needs to figure out what action to take.
Does the site warrant a penalty? Or, maybe this goes report goes off to the algo team with some notes so that they can try to programatically stop this type of thing. Or, maybe it took so long to figure out what was wrong and it's questionable whether or not it's even spam and he hasn't even thought of looking for hidden text or cloaking yet and it's almost lunch time so he's just gonna skip this one and move on.
Basically, you need to get the reviewer to know what they are looking for. Describe the technique used (and maybe how you discovered it). Where on the page is the hidden text? What are the differences when you use different referers (and what referers did you use to discover the problem)? What sort of redirect did they use? Etc. It's not always easy to spot the tricks, and the reviewer doesn't have 3 hours to spend on this one report, so anything you can do to home them in on the problem will improve the chances of action being taken.
Posted 28 December 2004 - 07:58 PM
after lurking for too many years and picking through your comments [and bugging Jill on the sly] I suddenly find myself in need of advice on just this topic.
to explain: I do SEO/SEM for the real estate industry - very competitive. just today we have discovered a major spam site in a certain geo area where we have a client: there are over 90 jscript mouseover pages indexed in Yahoo for the domain. there are also hundreds of invisible links on each page, etc. they've used just about every spam technique I know of.
question: My associate and I were not able to identify WHO did the coding through our usual due diligence. So, do we report the website owner?
The domain owner is a realtor [they are generally not smart people, trust me] who is probably just like the guy at the top of the TP thread. They want the top position and don't ask HOW they will get there.
I want MY client in this site's place and I play fair. Do I "owe" the the spammy website a call or do I just drop a dime on 'em to Yahoo?
what say you?
Grumpus, I thank you for your guidelines - means work, but...
Posted 28 December 2004 - 08:01 PM
I say drop the dime. Those js mouseover scripts are nasty, and Google dropped every site they found doing it. If Yahoo hasn't caught on (I assume the site isn't listed in Google), they'd probably appreciate having you point it out, whether it helps your client or not.
Posted 28 December 2004 - 08:10 PM
the same pages ARE appearing in Google as well.
we don't pay too much attention to Google in the short run as they've p-ssed [and rightly so] on too many real estate sites. Realtors like link scams and Florida killed most of these. some of my clients are STILL recovering...
I guess it's two dimes, then...
edited by madmonkey </poor grammer>
Edited by madmonkey, 28 December 2004 - 09:40 PM.
Posted 28 December 2004 - 08:29 PM
Speaking from personal experience from when a webmaster friend who asked me whether I would report such a site or not, those JS mouseover pages tend to go bye-bye more quickly than most. There is no doubt about the intent of something like that and the search engines tend to take a very hard line.
That's exactly the kind of thing that the search engines like to hear about.
Posted 28 December 2004 - 10:03 PM
1)) the spam domain in question is the person's name. this is typical of realtors - their name is their local brand. if the site is banned, this realtor will lose the ability to use their own name.
2)) if we hire someone to do something in our name we are responsible for their behavior, even if we don't ask HOW they will do this something. and if our hire-ling gets caught doing something bad, we should pay.
gain brownie points from the realtor by pointing out the spam problem, warn them of the consequences and suggest ways to remove the offending pages.*
*I could not take this realtor as a client: the company I work for is a large CMS provider and the realtor is not a subscriber, so this would be gratis.
just drop the dime and watch cause and effect in action, freeing up several top twenty positions in the SERPs for a VERY competitive keyword.
now, I take what Scottie said at the top to heart:
I have an obligation to my clients to make sure they get the best ranking possible for the best keyword possible.
but, do I have the right to report an ignorant website owner and take away their option of using their personal name as a brand?
or do I report them and let them learn a HARD lesson in groveling and that greed kills?
I do not want to see this website rank well using the methods it uses now, but I hate slapping people around just because they don't know any better.
I think I know what I will do, but I'm going to sleep on it first.
I hate spam, but I feel sorry for stupid people.
[talk about a fence sitter... ]
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