Tuesday, April 17, 2012


SEO SPAM

With the internet becoming more dominant in our daily activities of searching and social engagement, and for businesses realizing that page one of Google is important; “SEO” or search engine optimization is almost becoming a household word. What it is, how it works, and how Google offers certain guidelines is important to sort out when you are trying to get a better page ranking on Google. Avoiding bad practices, also known as “black hat SEO” is important so that the search engines do not interpret what you are doing as SEO spam, or “spamdexing”.

Email Spam Offering SEO
 Spam is normally defined as unwanted email that may have the intention to “phish” or try to evoke a response to capture an email address to send more spam. In spite of the Anti-Spam Act it is becoming more prevalent as professional spammers change sender addresses and use more sophisticated methods to get their emails through spam filters.

One of the typical spam messages that I receive and many business owners receive is the SEO message. It may read something like this:
youremailaddress@yourserver.com
 (your email address may appear in the content of the email)
   :    

“Our company can put your web site in the best positions on the major search engines.  We will give you a complimentary site analysis and show you how you can change your placement immediately.  We have done this for thousands of companies.  Ask us to prove it.  And this won't cost a fortune.  Reply to us for your web site quote.  Don't forget to include how we can reach you.” 
Sincerely,
Jane Doe

Does this seem familiar?

First, the sender is someone I do not recognize and obviously a solicitation. The subject line of the email message is ****/Positioning SE Web Review ***** to catch the attention. There’s an offer and a name – it was not Jane Doe. There’s no company name, and no other identity. The email name was most likely a fake one to generate a unique address to get through spam filters. I assume that if it was rejected it would generate a different one.The sender web address was from @postaweb.com.  I Googled Postaweb.com and tried to get into the site. It was already on my banned sites list. My PC Tools program had already identified a prior spam and most likely added it. So I googled again “what is postaweb” and got a result from the About Us site (http://www.aboutus.org/PostaWeb.com) - this site shows that the domain name is registered in Spain to “Net Partnership SL”. I don’t need to go farther than this. I’ve made my point that SEO spam emails are most likely fake and may not even come from a legitimate SEO company.

SpamDexing - Web Content and Links Spam
Another form of SEO spam are offers of thousands of backlinks, huge amounts of content, keywords stuffed into every page of your web site and then some, and automated feeds that can help your SEO. This is a big industry and sometimes it is hard to discern whether  “black hat” or only “white hat” SEO methods are being used. What is the best way to understand the difference? Google offers good information for you.

Google has been fine tuning their algorithm – the programming that determines relevancy and “SEO spam”. The most recent updates are designed to try and locate and filter out SEO spam so that web pages that are not using SEO spam can have a better chance at a stronger page ranking. Recent publicity of SEO spam working for a large brand – J.C. Penney – most likely caused Google to tighten up their algorithm even more, although I believe that they have been doing this all along. It’s just hard to enforce millions of web sites all at the same time.

The article that appeared in the New York Times – “The Dirty Little Secrets of Search” on April 2 reveals some of the main issues of why Google is tightening the search result process. “Black hat” optimization is a form of SEO spam that uses methods that try to bypass or fool Google’s algorithm process into obtaining better page ranking. J.C. Penney was getting top Google results for a number of various product searches in their inventory and after careful research by  Google spam expert Matt Cutts the site was subject to “corrective action” by Google. Corrective action is a polite way of saying punished, penalized, or banned depending on the severity of the SEO spam.

Google Webmaster Guidelines
Google has an excellent antidote and preventative to becoming the victim of SEO spam. They have published webmaster guidelines in which the elements of a web site’s content and marketing are spelled out to draw the line between what Google considers as quality content and marketing versus “black hat” methods. To view the webmaster guidelines you may need to be logged into your free Google account. The introduction to the guidelines spells it out very clearly. It is important that you or your SEO consultant follows these guidelines. The introduction is an excellent overview of the importance of avoiding spam action.

“Following these guidelines will help Google find, index, and rank your site. Even if you choose not to implement any of these suggestions, we strongly encourage you to pay very close attention to the "Quality Guidelines," which outline some of the illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index or otherwise impacted by an algorithmic or manual spam action. If a site has been affected by a spam action, it may no longer show up in results on Google.com or on any of Google's partner sites.” – Google webmaster guidelines

Whether you are trying to discern spam email that promises you the “top of Google”, or exploring searches for better SEO page ranking, I recommend that you read the Google webmaster guidelines and if you use an SEO consultant make sure that they abide by them to avoid any SEO spam or spamdexing that will affect your web site. 

David Brown
Logion Web Design
Copyright 2012

David Brown is the owner of Logion Web Design and Development LLC, a web development and SEO consulting service. He is the copywriter and publisher of  Likes, Tweets and SEO, a  blog for small business owners.

references:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spamdexing
Google webmaster guidelines
Link Schemes (Google)
New York Times "The Dirty Little Secret of Search