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This 169 message thread spans 6 pages: < < 169 ( 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 > >     
I tattled on my competitor, but is it hurting me now?

 9:36 pm on Jul 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Here's the deal-
My competitor had a small 6 page site, had hidden text everywhere stuffed with keywords, and had a single PR7 backlink. (His only backlink, besides his own pages) He was appearing on the first page for an extremely comepetive key phrase, so I went an acquired a link from the same site he had his single PR7 backlink from.

Prior to emerald or whatever the last update was called, I reported his hidden text site to google and it was penalized immediately. (You can't find his site anywhere now.)

I was hoping that with this new PR7 link I would get to enjoy the benefits my competitor had, but so far this hasn't happened, nor has my pr adjusted yet...and this was done over a month ago.

My question is, since the PR7 site links to my penalized competitor, would that be a red flag to google, causing a devalued interpretation of my backlink from the PR7 site?



 5:09 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>I use descriptive titles and H1's and , maybe even try to keep my keyword density somewhere I think google might like it, this is me manipulating googles serps. I am now a spammer. Plain and simple.
Ye who is without sin, cast the first stone

OK II'd go first ;)

Ive always wondered why this topic attracts so much emotion and passion when it is really just a personal business decision whether to report or not. Surely if the sites of those who are stamping their feet about spam reporters now are not SPAM, then its of no consequence right? They will pass any hand check. But i can understand the defnesive posture of these posters. Because what is defined as SPAM is such a grey area, and many work in "grey areas" just to keep up, and to them a low profile is very important.

Ive read this "WE are all spammers" spin regularly. And also the regular argument about SPAM being all sites above me. Ive read it perhaps hundreds of times here.

Ive given it a good read.

And it still doesnt wash with me.

It seems to be a way to escape criticism by making the definition so wide, nobody can call anybody else a spammer, even if you have just changed one word in a title, or put headings in H1's and such so the docmument has a good structure. Others may be cloaking, using hidden text, have hundreds of interlinking domains on diff IP's hosts etc, but because I changed a title to make it more descriptive suddenly i'm a spammer.?!

So i write good descriptive summaries, write good keyword titles, and cite other websites sensibly. This is NOTHING that a publisher in the hard copy world wouldn't do and what i used to do when i was working in that medium, but as soon as we do it on the Web suddenly it's spam?

Spam is subjective. Its definition changes a lot. Many years back i used to post in usenet groups of which i was a frequent poster myself about our new site. Back then i didnt think it was spam. Maybe now i do.

Many webmasters in competitive areas speak with so much passion and emotion on this area simply because they want to keep under the radar when it is getting more difficult every day to keep top rankings without encroaching on grey areas. I dont think it really affects with people in niche areas non-affiliate models, or part time sites. Having it "easy" for others to report the first type of webmaster is a major threat to many. To them keeping "under the radar" is key. Hence the strong language, sarcastic name-calling and "moral platform" used against those who may quite innocently feel they were helping both themselves and google's index as a whole by taking time out to report.

Some of these posts simply come across to me as the school bully "encouraging" newcomers to understand the playground "code of silence" so they don't get in the way of the REAL spammers to get on with their business.

[edited by: chiyo at 5:33 pm (utc) on July 16, 2003]


 5:09 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Bokesh, if it's my site you tattled on then the answer is yes, it's hurting you now.

The best way to send your competitors down the path of cyber-evolution is to hurt them. They'll go do their homework and come back stronger than ever and while you're busy writing spam reports they'll pop up above you again and you'll still be left sucking exhaust fumes and coming to this forum to whine about it.


 5:18 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

SPAM lies in the eyes of Beholder :)
Couldn't resist that

This is probably a debate where each side feels the other doesn't get it.


 5:21 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

coming from the precept that google wants to index a natural web. No manipulation, let the chips fall where they may and let the phd's sort it out.

There are so many lesser competitive catagories I can literally dominate just buy using an effective title. I may even be pushing down a much more relevant and informative page, but by me having the knowledge and starting down the path, I have manipulated and spammed my way to the top using the most basic of methods.

I use reciprocal links, I have just manipulated my way to the top only to bury a less informed webmaster who may have a page with better info.

Once we start down this path, we are spammers.

[edited by: mat_bastian at 5:33 pm (utc) on July 16, 2003]


 5:28 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think i'm the only one who understands both sides in here.
The site i reported had no business being in front of me. They had 8 lines of hidden text on every page. Thats clearly a red flag.

Second, I agree with the others who think its better to worry about your own site. However, in order to improve your own site, you have to look at those ahead of you and determine what they're doing to get better results. It just so happens I found a spammer in this process.

Of the 8-10 sites on page one for my keyword, i found 5-6 quality sites, adopted their techniques, and implemented them in my site. I would assume that everyone in here does the same practice when tyring to move ahead.


 5:34 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Spam is defined by Google.

I don't think so.

I can't recall how many posts start with "surely this is spam?" - "is this spam?" - "this must be spam".

Anywhere else it would be called unorthodox.

I'm not a spammer and I think there are so many different variations of spam and they even vary depending on which search engine you are indexed.

I'm not a spammer because I'm an angel, nope! I'm not a spammer the same reason that I'm not a thief - I don't want the consequences.

There is no evidence that reporting works.

Okay, so you report someone and then the site is dropped, you feel triumphant ... you don't know whether the natural filtering process kicked in.

Clearly some of you get a real thrill when you report a site and find it dropped - like someone else said, they'll come back stronger and tougher.

If Google followed up every spam report, it would have no time to do anything else. Spam reporters block up the system, if more and more spam reporters emerged, they would become a bigger prest than spammers.


 5:36 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> innocently feel they were helping both themselves and google's index <<

There's nothing innocent about it Chiyo. I think you meant 'selfishly feel'. Then they try to masssage their conscience by pretending it's for the greater good. It's nothing of the sort... it's actually that they can't SEO for toffee and look for the short term fix to nowhere.

It's also worth bearing in mind that reporting competitors is NOT without risk.


 5:38 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

I only report competitors that cheat.


 5:40 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>Those techniques have been clearly defined as inappropriate by Google. <

This is the one statement we all hear again and again that just absolutely kills me. Who died and made Google God?


A company let's it "LEAK" out that they expect to make $750 BILLION dollars this year and now we're going to accept that they DEFINE what's inappropriate?

Think maybe their definition may favor their company?

Absolutely amazing. >shock and horror<

>Ive always wondered why this topic attracts so much emotion and passion <

Easy answer. Because people who tattle don't want to see themsleves as tattlers and people who spam don't want to see themselves as spammers so we "make up" this incredibly stupid, contradictory, oxy-moronic term, "ethical SEO" as a way to convince ourselves that WE are good and THEY are bad. It's so stupid and it's this kind of delusional self-righteousness that makes all SEO's look unprofessional.

Want to hear something pretty funny? I do a lot of business with the PR network, (I know, I know, I'm a bad girl).While I was moving some of my links with them around this morning I asked what he thought of this topic.

He's going to launch another service soon to report spammers for you. You send him $5 and a url with your accusaton and he sends it to his list of contacts at Google and other engines. Kind of a reverse submission service.

We both had a good laugh about it, but after I hung up, I don't know if he was kidding or not. He seems to have a knack for seeing markets and serving those markets for a fee and there certainly seems to be a market for ratting out anyone with a better placement than you. Maybe I'll become an affiliate so I can intercept all the reports about my sites.

Tooooo funny! :)


 5:45 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

He's going to launch another service soon to report spammers for you. You send him $5 and a url with your accusaton and he sends it to his list of contacts at Google and other engines. Kind of a reverse submission service.

I like it, can I buy a franchise?


 5:50 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>There's nothing innocent about it Chiyo. I think you meant 'selfishly feel'. Then they try to masssage their conscience by pretending it's for the greater good.<<

No i didnt mean to say that at all Napolean. Im not arguing that the great majority of people report to help themselves. But I think that it is an insult to many to suggest that a motivation to help Google find spam quicker or better is never PART or sometimes the WHOLE motivation for reporting. Of course the great majority do it to help themselves. But to say there is never any consideration of the "greater good" is pulling a very long bow.

And to suggest that "spam reporters" are "deceiving themselves" is a nice self-justificable theory but impossible to prove unless you are a mind reader.

In this case it would just be as logical and defensible to say that it's not them, but you, that is deceiving yourself.

[edited by: chiyo at 5:53 pm (utc) on July 16, 2003]


 5:50 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> I only report competitors that cheat. <<

Oh Please!

You've got to laugh...


 5:54 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

.... but he did say it with total conviction :)


 5:55 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well said Chiyo, I tend to agree a lot with what you said.

Emotions run high when this subject is discussed .. I wonder why :)

Some people tend to suggest that since spam is all grey area .. there is no clear dividing line .. therefore every one is a spammer and hence no one should be reporting any one else.

I think that is too simple a view they WANT to take. Agreed that there is a fuzzy grey area .. but there are times when you see real dark shades of grey. The reporting page provided has a purpose .. it may be abused by many .. but it can be put to the use it is meant for as well by some one. If it were that useless .. that page would not have been there.

If every one is a spammer then we clearly need better words. May be it is ok to report "those who clearly and blatantly violate google's TOS" instead of "spammers" ;)

[edited by: jaski at 6:01 pm (utc) on July 16, 2003]


 5:56 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

You can laugh, but I only report sites that use hidden text and hidden links.

They cheat.

They deserve to be reported.

They deserve to be dropped from Google's index of the web.


 5:56 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

No Chiyo, I don't buy it. I doubt anyone on these boards reports competitors for the greater good.

A sneak is a sneak. They skulk off the the report page and sneakily enter their competitors details hoping they will never get caught.

Pathetic in its own way. The joy of it is, as people have mentioned above, that long term they are not helping themselves. And I am not referring to the risk of retribution.


 5:58 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

This topic is like beating your head against a can of spam.

Oh well... off to spam the spam reporting system. ;)

Marketing Guy

 6:00 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

What came first SEO or spam? Spam I would presume was more common spread before SEO was?

Regardless, the knowledge that began one resulted in the other.

If spam began things, then SEO most probably was derived by people wishing to play by the rules. If SEO came first then spam was most likely derived by people wishing to push the rules to the limits and then some.

Is spam just SEO?

Sure it is. You stuff your page with keywords or whatever - you get good SE listings - you have optimised your page for search engines. Doing stuff for the user is largely irrelevant to the process.

Just like mass-mailings and telesales are classed under the generic "marketing" umbrella. The objectives are the same as "ethical" marketing techniques, as are the results. The means are just different (read: less accepted by the "professional" community).

Just my 2c.

For the record (and my opinion on this has changed of late, mostly reflecting on this thread), I am a spammer.

I dont use hidden text, multiple domains, cloaking, etc, etc - i do everything by the book (that being the one written by Google). I get quality inbound links, use keywords efficently, H1 headings, etc, etc

My sites are for my users - mostly free information, so the objective of them being able to use it has been met - the information is there and is easy (ish) to get to. But my second objective is to get as many people as possible to my sites.

I do that by spamming. Um...optimising. I would be spamming if i thought I could get penalised because im not doing what im told. ;)

SEO / spam - all the same - some sanctioned by SE's - some not. So people care. Some people dont. /shrug

Where's the big deal?

Scott :)

(BTW I used to be an avid anti-spammer but Im just starting to notice that the proverbial grey line is ever enveloping the industry as a whole now, so my opinion has altered somewhat)


 6:04 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>No Chiyo, I don't buy it. I doubt anyone on these boards reports competitors for the greater good. <<

That's a wide ranging statement. Where is your evidence? Some have said in this thread they do, Are you calling them liars? Or self-deluded? Or is your judgement impaired by your passion?

too much information

 6:05 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

You know, I get the term 'spam' when talking about e-mail. It's such a common term now, even my Mom knows what Spam is. ;)

When it comes to web sites though, shouldn't it be more like 'Cram'? After all that really describes what is going on a little better doesn't it?



 6:06 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

In fourth grade, I started a petition to give to the teacher in an effort to change the rule that forced us to ask permission to use the bathroom. After collecting some 20 signatures during class, one law abiding student raised his hand when the petition came round to him. The teacher asked, "Yes Jerry, what can I do for you?".

Jerry said he was passed this note that was going around and he knew the rules stated there was to be no note passing in class. The teacher was happy, the twenty kids who signed the petition were not.

Jerry was a good kid. A real pain in the butt but I guess a pretty good kid.

-the end


 6:12 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> Where is your evidence? <<

Where's your evidence Chiyo that they do it for the greater good?

They are on this board aren't they? They are on here pretty much to learn more optimization... so they can compete more effectively. Work out the likelihood for yourself. You can't cover for these guys I'm afraid.


 6:13 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

this will be forever a problem.
It has always been a problem of indexes that arnt human based and i do believe this will come up again and again.
I know people who have setup quality sites then once received traffic spam with ads galore, it has been successful on quite a few occasions.

I guess the whole search engine thing is a bit biased, having relevant content does not matter really as it should.
Im actually astounded at the point of having links to you is more important. The new people with a new site find it very hard to compete with older sites even though they might better, and getting the same amount of links is a bit ridiculous.

Old sites have had the chance to evolve with the net, while the new sites even though they are better have to fast track links etc, that explains SEOs i guess


 6:14 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>"those who clearly and blatantly violate google's TOS" instead of "spammers"

Arrgh, then we're stuck with letting Google make the rules, no thanks. You're forever at the mercy of Google with that philosophy. And what are we supposed to do about the "hidden rules".

Remember when it was okay to link to any site you felt like linking to? Never had to give a consideration to whether or not Google would approve? Crosslinking? What the? Remember the PR0 fiasco? What were the "rules" then?

What about all the folks that saw their index page fall into oblivion? What do the rules say about that?

Google can shove their rules. My rules state that I have to make sure my clients are well represented in the search engine, unfortunately, Google can't enforce their own damn rules so sometimes it costs my clients more so I can play by my rules.

Forget about spam, however you want to define it and start thinking about cost. "Spam" isn't going to go away, but Google's "rules" will keep changing and as long as you keep reacting to those changes you will be forever behind.

I've got another rule for Google, until they can fix their system, people are going to keep exploiting every weak spot they can find. Obviously, the "spam" reports aren't helping much.

You can spend your time helping Google spot and correct their flaws or you can exploit those flaws until it is no longer effective. Google's been up and running for quite some time now and they can't seem to get a handle on "spam".

All this talk about the "greater good" baffles me. 5 years from now when you're still filling out "spam" reports you might reflect on how "spam" isn't getting "fixed".


 6:15 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Jerry made an objective judgement that his interests would be served better by pleasing authority than pleasing a mob breaking the rules. He was probably very unpopular at school thereafter, but maybe unpopular before. He probably got some advantage from the teacher too. It was a judgement and/or moral call on both sides.

Jerry may have became a priest, business leader, or President one day.

The rest became SEOs! :)

(Why are we always talking school analogies here?)


 6:19 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>>> Where is your evidence? <<
Where's your evidence Chiyo that they do it for the greater good?<<

I dont need it. I didnt make the statement. You did. I didnt argue that they are doing it for the greater good. My point was that you dont know, and you could be just as self-deceived as you say they are.

Amyway, I'm off the bed. Thanks for stimulating discussion Napolean and all...


 6:25 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

look the problem is that not only should they ban urls
but do a whois and maybe ban people as well.

That might be the only way to fix the problem and also force host operators who get spammers hosting on their hosting to cease working with them or get kicked off the index.

We are here to sell products in the long term, develop a good reputation, something that spammers dont intend on doing. Thats the difference.

If google wants to maintain a good reputation with having a high quality index, the points i made previously should be used.


 6:26 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Report hidden text every time - it only takes a couple of minutes with Google.

It's a cheat.

What's worse than hidden text - is text which is *almost* the same colour as the background - and I report this too.

And not only for sites in the category as the ones I manage, but also for webmasters who operate in the same markets as us.

Very liberating ....


 6:36 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

I tend to agree with Chiyo.

Napoleon, even in the offline world we abide by a social contract i.e. we have agreed to obey the rules. If you are doing something against the rules and by doing so hurting someone else's business... do you think it's unfair to report you?

NOBODY can be faulted or ridiculed or considered any less for using an established system to protect themselves from people who are breaking established laws.

And to the point of letting Google be the judge: you dont' have to, but then you should stop thinking about your ranking on Google. They are the one and only power that determines what is appropriate on THEIR search engine.


 6:53 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Much seems to said about hidden text. It's as old as the hills.

Is Google so far behind that it hasn't got a filter to suss it out?

Does Google heavily rely on the self imposed spam police to keep those lines clean of spammers and scoundrels?

too much information

 7:04 pm on Jul 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

manilla -

As far as the text 'close' to the background color, you should probably be careful about that. I have a flat screen on my Mac where I do my sites, a 17" monitor on a PC that I test for compatability, and a 15" monitor on another PC that I test for older browsers. I have found that text displayed on any of them is different from the others.

In fact, my site looked great on two of them, but on the 15" all of my text was nearly invisible, even with adjusting the brightness/contrast. If you are going to report 'nearly invisible' text, make sure it's universally 'nearly invisible' and not just that way on your screen.

my 0.02


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