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Spam Reporting 2
Posted 28 December 2004 - 10:48 PM
Honestly, you aren't taking away their ability to use their name in marketing at all. You'd just be taking away their ability to spam the SEs and get away with it. Marketing is much more than just the SEs. If they're smart marketers, they're also promoting their URL through print ads, PPC, business stationery, etc. -- none of which are affected in the least by anything the SEs do with their organic listings. Anyone whose entire marketing plan is based on maintaining top rankings in the free SE listings is building a business on quicksand.
At least with Google, what we've seen is that TP'd sites that featured those JS mouseover pages got back in relatively quickly once they cleaned up their act. It appears sites "automatically" caught by the algorhythm will pretty much automatically get back in shortly after they clean up their act. Sites that have been manually banned can get back in -- as long as it's their first offense -- by fixing whatever they've done wrong and promising to not do it again.
When you see sites getting permanently banned from Google or the other SEs, it's generally at least their second offense. At that point, I'd really have very little sympathy for the site owner, as they would have already been banned and reinstated once, and would presumably be more cautious in the future about undertaking risky tactics. If they've been burned already and still decide to take a walk on the wild side, they deserve whatever happens to 'em, MHO.
Drop the dime and let the chips fall where they may (if I may be permitted to slightly mix metaphors...)
Posted 29 December 2004 - 12:13 AM
Posted 29 December 2004 - 08:19 AM
I think you should get in touch with this poor schlub and let him know the danger he's in. Stress that you're not trying to scare him into hiring you, but that he needs to get rid of that stuff on his site.
If he refuses, or if he doesn't get back to you, then you can turn him in.
About half a year ago, a partner of mine was asked by a company that writes shopping carts to help out their clients, and "coincidentally" all of the sites had the same designer as well. This designer had created a link farm on every page of every one of these sites, cross linking them and others. My partner had me take a look, and the link farm was the first thing I noticed. I told her to tell the potential clients that if they wanted to hire us, they had to remove all of the hidden links. (And of course the shopping cart people had had absolutely no idea this had been going on ) Some accepted and became our clients. Some didn't.
I didn't turn in those who didn't, because I was damaging whatever benefit they were getting from their hidden links by removing the links pointing to them on the sites I worked on, so they became the suckers with invisible links pointing to sites that weren't linking to them. I figure that's their problem, and I don't need to get them into more trouble.
Posted 29 December 2004 - 08:43 AM
I alluded to it earlier when I said that reports that deal with quantative issues don't get a very good response. By this, I mean sites which are relevant to the search term but that, in your opinion, are ranking too high. Maybe they are using a shady technique. Maybe they are using a questionable linking strategy, whatever. No reviewer, nor any single person anywhere in the Google personnel heirarchy, can quantify where a site should rank within the batch of results. There are too many factors involved. So, in this type of case, a ban or a penalty is very rare (in fact, I've never heard of one). As I said, the reviewer may turn the report over to the algo team so they can put it together with the other data and try to make a programatic solution to solve the technique's ability to raise a site's ranking artificially, but they aren't going to ban a page for this type of thing.
If you think about it, it doesn't really do any good - if there are 5,000 other sites doing it, they have to track down 5,000 sites and penalize each of them. Then, they have to manually keep an eye out for the technique and continue to ban new sites that are using it. Not a very cost effective means of policing. By sending the report over to the algo team, though, after a few months of tweaking, ALL of the sites - current and future - who employ the technique will lose their benefit. Problem solved.
So, when looking through the results and considering whether to report a site, take yourself and your emotional response out of the picture. Does the page honestly and truly not belong in those SERPs? If not, then go ahead and report it. But, if it's there and you feel it's just ranking better than it should (quite probably because it's ranking higher than you) then you are probably wasting your time. Afterall, is it that technique you see that's making it rank? Or, is it in fact, something else because that technique has already been devalued. (There is a sort of way to report a "technique" rather than a specific page that does, in fact, tend to be useful and I'll explain that for folks in another post if there is interest in it).
In the above example by Madmonkey, it sounds to me like the site in question is a competitor of his client. If that's the case and Madmonkey believes his client's site should be in those SERPs, then he also must believe that the questionable site belongs in those results, as well.
Posted 29 December 2004 - 08:56 AM
If this really is a case of spam via js mouseovers, it may be beneficial to Google to hear about it, since it may be that this site was coded in such a way that it was missed by the algo, and telling them about it may lead to an improvement in their method of detection.
Lots of ifs, but if all that is true, then I don't think it matters whether this site would be relevant to the query if the spam were ignored, since this is a case of what we believe to be one of those very rare bannable (is that a word?) offenses. I'm working on a site now that was banned for using those methods.
Posted 29 December 2004 - 09:36 AM
If it really is true that this site is ranking despite the use of js-mouseover pages, which were presumably already dealt with algorhythmically (TP), then -- as Bob says -- it appears this site came across a methodology that slipped through the cracks somehow.
I can't speak for anyone else, but I'd be interested in knowing how to go about reporting shady techniques as opposed to specific sites. Frankly, I'm sorta with Google on this -- it does seem that it would be more efficient in the long run to write an algo that will deal with undesirable behaviour automatically rather than trying to "hand penalize" every infraction.
Besides, reporting a dodgy technique rather than ratting out a specific site feels less like being a tattletale.
BTW, good to see you back around these parts, G!
Posted 29 December 2004 - 10:16 AM
So, when you are reporting a technique (if you want results that are relatively quick and also effective) you need to assist in generating a control group by finding other sites using the same technique (preferably over a wide range of search terms). This gives the spam team an instant head start on generating the control group needed to fix the situation. Basically, you report a single page, but in your notes section, you list other pages and search terms that bring up the pages. The more you can find, the better your chances of getting some results.
Now, I didn't say it would be easy. And, it's not 100% effective. But, from past experience, it does definitely help to present a nice selection of pages that use the technique. This way, they can see what affect the technique is actually having.
And it's good to see you, too, Torka.
Posted 29 December 2004 - 11:44 AM
torka, lea: thank you for your thoughts. I am aware of these issues, but I'm glad to be reminded [yet] again.
doing site: at Google, I get over 100 pages that Google is aware of, some of the js pages have only been crawled, by many are also cached. they didn't algo this one out.
since, I don't use these techniques, I pay little attention to the actual details, but in looking at the script, it is forwarding to the URL using hex characters and not alphas. would this make a difference in a Google detection or this a known feature of the js trick?
the site in question does belong in the SERPs for the keyword, but the site itself is not optimized correctly. the site owner took the quick way to the top.
grumpus: again, thx for being so thorough in laying out how to report; unfortunately digging up a control group is too time consuming for me right now [tho' it appeals to the investigator in me].
qwerty: thx for echoing my conscience. but Scottie is right in the first post: My first obligation is to MY client - they sign my check. in the big picture, I think it helps to report these and have the SEs learn how to defeat these techniques better.
if anyone is interested in the code and how the pages are set up, PM me and I'll give you the keyword the site ranks on in Yahoo and the URL for site: search at Google. I'd be very interested in having some more light shed on how this has slipped in...
I'm glad I jumped in on this one... it is as sticky a subject as the "ethics" thread that was weaved this summer.
thank you all.
Posted 29 December 2004 - 11:50 AM
My first instinct (if I thought the owner was an unwitting victim of spam tactics) would be to contact the site owner. I have to admit I've become very cynical though.
If the site owner is getting great rankings and their SEO says they have nothing to worry about, they are likely to look upon your warning as sour grapes or a plot to "trick" them into losing their great rankings.
I used to believe people basically wanted to do the right thing but more and more, I think most of them just want to get ahead no matter what, and they think everyone else does too. So, no matter your intentions, you are likely to get a cold reception to your helpful efforts.
Posted 29 December 2004 - 12:13 PM
Stock (Grumpus) is exactly right in that the Technique is what the search engines look for. Especially Google. Even if the terms are 100% relevant, if the search engines make the determination that the tactics being used to skew the results they can and will remove those pages from their index. If other sites are using the same or similar techniques, as is usually the case, then reporting the technique instead of a site tends to have a much larger effect across the board.
As far as who to tell, I can't give you an answer to that. I've done both. I've told the actual site owner, while not asking for their business, and I've reported a few directly to the search engines. I never report Sites to the search engines. I report Techniques that are being used. Which is probably why I rarely report anything. Lack of time to do the proper research to clearly indentify the technique being used on multiple sites.
Most likely, this particular technique has been missed, or most likely it's a new variation on an old theme. The search engines have to look for exact code in HTML, not for general principles that could be used for both good and ill. The bots aren't smart enough yet to look at the big picture. Looking for very specific code is why all of the TP stuff got caught. The code was identical on hundreds and hundreds of sites.
The bottom line is that you've got to try do what is best for your customer, as that is where your sole responsibility lies. Hopefully something in that decision helps the search engines improve their product.
Edited by Randy, 29 December 2004 - 12:21 PM.
Posted 29 December 2004 - 12:24 PM
No, I won't contact the site owner, they are a client of a competing CMS company - doubly cursed am I on this one.
here's a new twist: between last post and this, I have found at least 3 more sites using similar tactics - all for the same keyword and all ranking. ouch.
one is using a script [name removed] for their redirect...
I gotta go to the bank and get some dimes.
Edited by Jill, 29 December 2004 - 07:51 PM.
Posted 29 December 2004 - 12:30 PM
Posted 29 December 2004 - 04:18 PM
we found another site with the same type pages while doing some keyword research.
the site already appears to have been banned by Google, as they have "no information" about the URL, but they have [again] 100+ pages in Yahoo, most of jthem s redirects.
so I called the realtor, told him who I was, told him site was using spam techniques and was most likeley already banned from Google and asked point blank if he used TP.
he said yes.
he is contacting his webmaster to have the offending code/pages removed.
who woulda thunk it?
Posted 29 December 2004 - 07:53 PM
That's one of the funniest paragraphs I've read all year! Very good Scottie. Turning the tables on the blackhatters.
Posted 06 January 2005 - 10:42 AM
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