(...don't mind me, it's been a strange week)
I have generally stayed away from all the pretty hats that SEOs get to wear. While I do look smashing in them, it mucks up my hair, ya know? But lately, I am finding it harder. To me weve always been search manipulators to varying degrees. While we may truly encourage search engineers to have to dig deeper, or facilitate content ingestion, it cannot be doubted that SEOs are the thorn in the IR worlds side. Ok, that I can take.
Why? Because SEO could as easily stand for Search Engine Opportunist as anything else. That is until now
more and more I am seeing websites that are hacked for a variety of SEO purposes including link building and SERP destruction. It is one thing when people take advantage of an algorithm and quite another when it poisons honest peoples best intentions.
Lets talk turkeys
And so where does this all come from? Well, certainly websites the world over are constantly hacked for a variety of reasons
of that there is no doubt. For the moment though, lets look at a few SEO approaches;
- Death by out bounds this one is fairly straight forward. You simply look for opportunities on competitors sites, hack in
drop links, (and even cloaking, hidden whateva) - and wait for Google to axe them (the more aggressive of the Big3).
- Link building bonanza this time the main goal are some links, regardless of how limited the window. You hack in, drop some links (hidden of course) rinse and repeat.
It is that last one that has me going today. Recently I have been unfortunate enough to have fine peeps approach me to look into problems that lead me to numerous networks operating like this. If youve ever spent time in the land of Pills Porn and Poker, ya know of the colourful neighbourhood of which I speak.
wheres the root of the problem (in many ways)? The link addicted algorithms certainly must play into this, no? And let us not forget it is the search engines that give us the mantra of, you cant be hurt by those linking TO YOU only those you LINK TO?
Does this not actually make this kind of activity more favourable? Many of these networks, you see, even use an intermediary site that 301s the link juice. This give the ultimate recipient and extra layer of plausible deniability to stay up and running longer WITHOUT using on-site black hattery. My friend, it PAYS to crack and dump...
Encouraging the behaviour
So it would seem that search engines ongoing love of links would be, not its own undoing, but the downfall of many a hard working website owner. These people arent in the 3Ps but get hammered none-the-less for nothing more than a momentary lapse in security, while the real culprits, the search engines and the crackers
go about their merry way.
Of course we cant forget the authority sites that seem all but impervious to penalties, thus become defacto accomplices
one needs look no further than the followed links at Adobe for one such example (there are MANY )
just have a look
Is Adobe indexed? You bet your ass.
How about local (Toronto) basketball star Chris Bosh? Seems hes been tagged with some unwanted hidden links
Is he still indexed? Feel free to bet another appendage
Are some of these smaller websites that are being hacked indexed? Naw, theyre dead friggen meat and losing $$$ each day awaiting the moment they are back in the search engines (usually Google) good graces. So once more we see the bar is set to different levels (as noted a year ago with; Alls fair in love and SEO).
This is illegal isnt it?
Once more donning our trusty tin foil hats, we must consider that these are illegal activities in many regions. This isnt simply breaking a search engines TOS, its breaking laws. Watching the after effects (of money honest peeps are losing) I cant help but wonder if the search engines and complicity ignorant sites (such as Adobe) are aware of their roles in the crime? Arent they somewhat encouraging such behaviour?
I am constantly amused when marketers of all shapes and sizes talk about ethics or other moral conundrums. At what point shall we, at very least, put down the hats for a moment and talk about the real bad guys? Furthermore, when will search engines get smacked with an intervention to stop this mad addiction with links? It seems that the little people are taking the brunt of the loss here
not the search engines, not the authority sites and certainly not the bad guys.
In the end, I dont care WHAT tactics you use on YOUR site
defacing others illegally is simply wrong.
BTW Donna highlighted this nifty tool you might want to check out (its free..no worries)