|To send a bogus results report or not...|
I have a bit of a dilema here. I have two competitors who I believe to be spamming and I would like the opinion of some more experienced webmasters. Competitor "A" has hidden links to competitor "B". I believe this means one of two things: 1.) There is only one competitor and this is the same owner, or 2.) Something really fishy is going on. Competitor "B" has 3 different sites, all selling the same product, targeting different keywords, and linking between all 3 sites on every page of every site.
Competitor "B" is obviously the same owner because the phone number and contact info are the same on all three sites. Competitor "A" has different contact info but is located in the same state, in a city VERY close by to competitor "B".
These sites are in the google serps as sites number 1-3 for all of my main keywords. This really bugs me because I read these forums daily and do everything I can to educate myself so that I run an honest, rule abiding business. When I see one person (maybe two) ruling the serps with different sites, I get angry.
Do you think that I should report these sites to Google? The only thing that I can prove is that:
-Competitor "A" has hidden links to either Competitor "B" (what for?) or to himself (if it is one owner).
-Competitor "B" has multiple sites all linking to each other on every page of every site.
What would you do?
Thanks for all of your great help day in and day out!
Hidden links? By all means, rat them out. Remember, the Internet operates by the law of the (cyberspace) jungle. Kill or be killed. Destroy the competition by any means possible.
I think that I will report the hidden links for sure. I am still waiting to see what people think about the other guy.
p.s. If they get penalized and given the boot, how long will this last? Forever?
You can collect more information about these 3 (Competitor "B") + 1 (Competitor "A") = 4 sites by checking
- the 'whois' information
- figuring out if these sites are hosted by the same company.
If these 4 sites have the same owner, then it is very clear. Even if they are not, but if they were registered on (almost) the same day, have an (almost) identical IP address, then providing this information in the spam report can help.
From your MS-DOS prompt you can do
to find out the IP address of a site. Also from the MS-DOS prompt you can use
to find the hosting company (the one just above the last line) if this information is not in the 'whois' database.
|If they get penalized and given the boot, how long will this last? Forever? |
Hard to say. If they clean up and ask to get re-indexed, it could be a few months. But nothing prevents them from starting a new site. In that case it will take some time to get that back in a high position. So they will be careful not to loose it too quickly again. Therefore in either case they are more likely to refrain using these tricks unless it is about very competitive keywords (casino, adult, real estate, finance, etc.).
When ever a dilemma such as this comes up the first consideration > remove yourself from the equation. Other than you recognizing a potential problem you are a simple by-stander.
The second consideration > does what you have found aid or benefit Google users?
Obviously the competitor is in the way of you more easily reaching the user... but that part is non-relevant to the issue.
If there is clearly "no benefit" for the user > report it.
However always remember that the same circumstances also apply to you... thus anyone that actually "reports" had better be on the right side of the "spam" laws... simply put -- if a competitor is dropped I am positive they will be reviewing others (just like you did) and you could be next.
remember even if you think your site if squeaky clean and you rat somebody out THEY may come hunting for you,
Like rfgdxm1 said it's a jungle out there so make sure you know what animal you are attacking if your a deer don't attack a Lion he may be just hunting in a pack and the last thing you really need is to become the prey.
A jungle out there...
And if they are suddenly deleted from Google, who will they think sent the spam report? Why, the guy who has just taken their position at the top...
As a side issue...
If site A has hidden (or 2x1 pixel) links to site B on every page, but site B doesn't have a link back - just has an an email link on some pages...who is spamming? If somebody sent a spam report, which site would get penalised, or both? In this case, the 2 sites are not the same company, it's probably just some deal they worked out between them to help each other.
Excellent point Monkscuba!
Try to look at this from an off-line vantagepoint.
If a competitior lists in another competitors catalogue and vice versa > would this bother anyone?
If a competitor got a free deal with another competitor to list his domain on every page of the catalogue > would this bother anyone?
If a competitor distributed 3 different catalogues > would this bother anyone?
Strange how the online matrix changes ones perspective! ;)
|Try to look at this from an off-line vantagepoint. ... If a competitor distributed 3 different catalogues > would this bother anyone? |
If the local library or department store has a free message board (Google), and one person puts several almost identical messages on it at a very prominent spot (the first results of the SERP) and removes other messages (first page has only 10 results), then that would bother me. Especially if this person would violate the rules about posting messages (like Google's TOS about hidden links).
"If a competitor got a free deal with another competitor to list his domain on every page of the catalogue > would this bother anyone?"
No, but on line they can hide it, yet it still counts for something. I was just wondering who gets penalised - the one doing the hidden links, or the one being linked to?
"If a competitor distributed 3 different catalogues > would this bother anyone?"
Somehow, with a real life catalogue, it's easier to see that they are all part of the same junk mail. On line it's easier to pretend that they are all different. When a set of results come up on Google, it's like the message board that takagi wrote about. Very hard to tell from just a few word snippet that you are looking at the same thing several times. The average user will still click on it if it's at the top, and will have no idea what sneaky hidden methods may have been used to get there.
Spam is a worrying issue. I have not knowingly used any naughty tactics, but still worry that I may have done something wrong without knowing about it, since, in reality I am not a web pro, just someone who reads Webmaster world and gets enough from here to get good rankings, thanks very much. :)
If you believe that another site is abusing Google's quality guidelines, please report that site...
and Google clearly says that hidden text and hidden links are abusing the guidlines.
Conclusion; report them.
It's usually the "good little boyscouts" who seem to do the crying and "drop a dime" on someone. The ones with the "squeaky clean" sites who complain. Those who always put money in the parking meter, always come to a complete stop at stop signs and never cross a double yellow line in the road.
I'm convinced that 99% of all spam reports are made by inept beginners frustrated over their inability to compete in the real world. Beginners either too lazy or too dumb to learn what it takes to be successful. I know some who call themselves "SEO's" who belong at a carwash and others who've been in the business for years and are still rank beginners.
Then there are those who pretend to know about SEO and sell themselves off to companies promising top results. The "instant SEO's" who give this business a bad name by screwing over companies selling their false ability to perform and feeding them false information. They're the ones who should be reported . . . to the BBB and, in some cases, to the cops.
The trouble with reporting things like hidden links etc.. is that Joe Surfer won't notice it, won't know it's there (and won't care unless the results are no good)and won't know how to report it anyway.
This means the ones doing reporting are the webmasters (either pros or amateurs), usually reporting the dirty sites above them in the SERPS (who care's if they're below us, right?). So we're back to the whole Karma thing. If you report them, maybe they'll report you, so you'd better be squeaky clean, or you're next. Or maybe you'll be hit by a bus...
I'd rather send an anonymous email to the webmaster of a tricky site, something like:
"We know what you're up to [name specifics] and will send a report to the Google God if you don't clean it up. You have 7 days to respond."
|I'm convinced that 99% of all spam reports are made by inept beginners frustrated over their inability to compete in the real world... |
If someone beats me who operates within the guidelines of Google, I learn from that site. If a site beats me because it uses techniques not allowed by Google I report them.
Make sure you rate out the other couple hundred that are below you too - no sense in letting them sneak up on you
Personally, I wouldnt report them. They are using initiative to make sales, and its not harming the surfer is it.
I have only ever reported one site, and they were stealing my traffic and not even supplying the products, just redirecting to adult sites. I felt I had duty to report them, for the surfers sake not mine :)
Report them and get the spammers out of the index.
If your site is clean, who cares if they come gunning for you! What is to gun if you don't spam.
You will be in the index and they will not and as long as your site is clean they can submit spam reports on you until next year and nothing will happen. Google does not remove a site simply becasue somebody submits a spam report on them. They actually have to of spammed to get the boot.
They are clearly breaking the rules, hidden links for crosslinking from every page to inflate PR, Duplicate sites and who knows what else.
This is business, why should they be able to violate Googles TOS and possibly get traffic that other vendors could get. It is no good for the user since it is limiting their choics of companies to look at. If they have 4 sites showing up in the first 10 of a search, how does that benefit a user who is looking to shop prices and other suppliers. It does not. Only in the eyes of a spammer does spamming add value to the index.
Report them now and about once a week until they get booted.
|I'm convinced that 99% of all spam reports are made by inept beginners frustrated over their inability to compete in the real world. Beginners either too lazy or too dumb to learn what it takes to be successful. I know some who call themselves "SEO's" who belong at a carwash and others who've been in the business for years and are still rank beginners. |
I'm not quite sure if this was directed towards me or not but it is rude and simply not true. I have been making a great full time income online since 1997, and I have a very successful business offline. This should not matter and should not have even been brought up as it makes no difference to my question.
We are not comparing the success of different people on this forum.
These competitors are taking A LOT of traffic and sales from me, so yes I am concerned. They dominate the SERPS and yes, they are relevent and provide what they say they do.
If a shopper is shopping online and comparing prices and believes he has priced 4 different shops this is WRONG. He then believes that "everyone" online sells the product for the same price so then he buys from one of the 4. This is BAD business and is very rotten.
This sort of thing does not promote ethical business and healthy competition, it promotes more and more spammy techniques.
|Those who always put money in the parking meter, always come to a complete stop at stop signs and never cross a double yellow line in the road. |
Yes, I do play by the rules...I also go to church on Sunday, I respect other people, etc....I don't think you get in Nell.....
|So we're back to the whole Karma thing. If you report them, maybe they'll report you, so you'd better be squeaky clean, or you're next. Or maybe you'll be hit by a bus... |
lol...Although I find the part about the bus funny, I don't believe in Karma...Plus wouldn't it be "good" Karma since I told Google that there is a spammer topping the SERPS? If I help google to have a better search engine by reporting the spammers wouldn't the bus hit my competitors?...lol
|Personally, I wouldnt report them. They are using initiative to make sales, and its not harming the surfer is it. |
Yes they are making initiative to make sales, but this is by the way of spam. Maybe the shoppers don't realize that they are being spammed, however, they are insulting those of us who play by the rules as well as insulting google.
Okay, so then everything is said once again, the original poster has answered his question, let's close the case for now :)