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|Squealing on other webmasters|
When does it get nasty?
When I search for a keyword I am competing for, I can see that the top 5 sites are not playing by the rules. Four of them obviously show prepared contents to GoogleBot and randimize their page for all other users so Google can't tell that they're getting a special package ("Archive" is turned off, of course). The fifth one is simply using hidden text.
Now of course I could come running to Mama Google and cry because these boys have been bad. Hopefully, Mama will punish them! On the other hand, I have the feeling that it's slightly unethical for a webmaster to turn other webmasters in. It's kinda like the law of the sandpit: Sure, that other kid hit you with his shovel, but running to Mama is pretty uncool.
Has any of you guys got experience with such a situation? Should I report my findings to Google, or should I try to get all my webmasterly skills together and beat my competitors anyway? The problem I see is that I have already been sitting there and doing dull stuff like squeezing my favorite keyword into the text another three or four times, and I fear that by trying to beat people who don't care for the rules, I'll finally end up breaking the rules myself.
What are the rules?
A lot of people on these boards will advise you to concentrate on your content and forget it. My opinion is if you are sure there is wrong doing then go for it.
What to expect:
Altavista - a check of what you have reported, then a human email within 4-5 days confirming what you reported, and clarification they are spamming the index. The offending SER's dissappear 4 - 5 days later to re-appear about a week later. :(
Alltheweb - No email reponse. The offender dissapears out of the index in about 10 days and does'nt return
Teoma/Ask Jeeves - No email, no action
Google - Zip, even after 4 indexes
But you probably know that, don't you? ;)
Yes I am well aware of the guidelines provided by Google.
After that it becomes a matter for the discretion of the individual.
My personal view is that if you think that the serps are bad enough that they affect the abilitiy of the SE user to find a quality site about the topic that they are looking for then they should be reported. (Or if you are working for a third party - if they choose to report the spam then it should be left up to them to do it.)
I don't believe in reporting sites purely for your own personal gain.
For example where the serps list sites of the like of
I think that there is a major problem with the SERPs and that widgets.com should be reported.
In this case they are blocking other sites from the SERPs and not providing the user with quality results and a good choice of sites.
However if the results are
and these sites aren't related then if the sites are on topic then there is little point in reporting the sites as the SERPs are providing a choice of quality sites on the topic that is searched for by the user.
Strange that you would associate ethics with coolness.
Build your site or sites and don't get preoccupied by what the "other" guy is doing. If they really are braking many of the rules, their days should be numbered. What I usually do is monitor how long these sites last.
One question. Do these sites buy Adwords or are they a "Sponsored Link"?
I have had this thought on my mind recently....
I donít mind when little guys bend the rules a bit as the tricks never seam to last more than a few months, but when big guys do it who are supposed to be leading by example and start treading on toes, then I raise my trigger finger...
I found nearly 20 sites with no "substantial unique content" all linking back to a certain site which many people here are more than familiar with. Sites like this give the Internet a bad name and ruin results pages by presenting the same old rubbish time and time again.
Inside information that the whole op' was planned to take advantage of Google SERP's
Not normally being a grass but this situation I thought was different for many reasons. The main one being that it is pure spam that is falling under the radar and appearing high in the SERP's.
I could not believe the perpetrator had not even bothered to speak to professional search engine marketers instead of getting boys to do menís work.
Drafted an email to Google and to a contact I have at the Perpetrators HQ but still have not sent either...dilemma, dilemma.
Looking down the cross hair of my telescopic sight that can see round corners, get orf my keywords.
When does it get nasty? When you pay more attention to what others are doing than getting your secret sauce right.
I get the feeling that some folks (not you of course) cry baby about cheaters stealing the top of the serps, and on the few occasions I looked at the cry baby's site, I have to say that they deserved to be at the bottom of the pile.
[edited by: martinibuster at 1:42 am (utc) on Feb. 11, 2003]
andreasfriedrich - I hadn't thought of ethics in the way that you mention. It was really a case of do the results I'm seeing offend my taste (or if I was searching on a specified term would I be happy with the results I got.)
I forgot one important thing: those four sites pulling off the extra show for the Googlebot are totally identical, and of course they're run by the same person.
On the other hand I would still be reporting them for my own gain, if I didn't have a website up there myself, I just wouldn't care.
Startup, no adwords, no.
Ethics vs. coolness? Well, I just thought that using the word "ethics" in this context is probably slightly exaggerated... oh well, at least as far as the sandpit is concerned. ;)
Anyway, if it's true that reporting doesn't help anyway (no idea - never done it) then the question becomes kind of obsolete, doesn't it?
|Anyway, if it's true that reporting doesn't help anyway (no idea - never done it) then the question becomes kind of obsolete, doesn't it? |
Still worth doing, even if it may take time.
>>>>I report my findings to Google, or should I try to get all my webmasterly skills together and beat my competitors anyway?
Why don't you do both? Who cares if you squeel. The gloves come off when money is at stake. :)
Couldnít agree more born2drv, the same rules as any other business applies. One restaurant has a license to serve beverages and the other doesnít. The one with will most likely take the other down with a few well placed phone calls at some point.
This is no difference, SPAMMERS play the game and equally those who don't SPAM can play also by reporting them.
And any one arguing that the sites that complain are crap and don't figure at the top because of this, what a load of twaddle. Plenty of big boys out there competing against other big boys by whatever means possible.
Well I must confess that I did indeed report a site,or rather sites.All traced to same owner that occupies 18 of first 20 spots and uses every trick (spam) talked about in the forum and violates every term of agreement in googles list. All the sites are very close to being identical with a few words being different. All sites are crossed linked and have PR.It seemed so blantant I had to laugh and just had to report it to google to see what would be the results.--Low competive area. All still there 3 updates later. They are also a sponsored site.I have no competition with them.
I ran across them while watching another site I knew had been cloaking google for a least a year (along with a few other tricks) while gaining position (#1 in some keywords)1st page in several others while delevering NO content to users except keyword gibberish below affiliate links in a "very competive" area. No I did not report this site nor do I intend to. It is neither a sponsored site or do they buy adwords. "PR6" I do compete with them.
Ian is right "What Rules--it becomes a matter for the discretion of the individual"
It's nasty when it is used as a competitive tactic. It can get retaliatory. I just don't do it.
How about this as a test of your motives and ethics:
If they are so bad and you are so clean, and you are going to do that, why don't you be adult about it -
1. Contact the other webmaster.
2. Tell him that you are squeeling on him.
3. Tell him your url(s).
If you are so righteous, that should be no problem for you. If you have the guts to do all that, I'd say you are righteous and have no quibble with you.
On the other hand, if you are not ready to reveal yourself, you are being a hyporicitical slimeball.
Completely objective opinion: Some we see are definitely playing with fire, it's blatant and they're well aware that they can get burnt. If they get trounced, they'll just do more.
Others may *seem* dodgy but really aren't, they're just very good SEO, albeit possibly right on the edge, particularly when it comes to cross-linking issues. Some out there play link text and Page Rank like a finely tuned violin.
I never assume keyword-stuffing is what gets some sites high rankings. I don't even see much of that at all and what I do see of it is not what I think is getting the results. It always pays to study carefully what those folks are doing, they're some of the smartest cookies around.
I'm studying one group of 8 sites now (all on the same topic, same products, same *safe* hosting) that at first glance seems like they're being unethical and taking excessive risk with cross-linking, but on further examination they're the tip of the iceberg. Digging has uncovered much more. It's like finding buried treasure - we just have to know how to spot the gold when we're panning.
From a practical standpoint, not even going near ethics, it would be very silly to even consider reporting them, even though it's uphill competing against them. They're not technically violating any of the "guidelines" except for manipulating Page Rank - which we ALL do to some degree, just as soon as we learn how, if we'll be honest enough to admit it.
If we find sites that are consistently ranking high because of what we perceive to be excellent SEO, particularly a number by the same people, it's an opportunity to learn from the best in the business we'd be fools to pass up. The clumsy ones who throw pop-ups at us and use crude techniques are best gone, imho, but the genuine artists give us an opportunity for a higher education.
100% agree with Marcia!
Let me ask an opinion... If a series of sites, all gather leads for 'widgets' (the submission forms on all the 'other' sites link back to one main site), but manage to list, in off-white text on a white background, EVERY state and terratory in the US and Canada (by name and abbreviation) AND most major cities in all 50 states in the US + Canada -- when is it too much?
The 'widget' lead generator has about 7-8 different domains with the same state/city list (in some slightly rearranged order).
Yes, that sounds like good, effective spam. :-)
Likely those sites will get banned shortly in the normal course of things.
In which case, your less effective spam will move up and you will win.
If, you really feel you are squeaky clean and safe, you could expedite the process. Just contact the webmaster for the other site, tell him you are squeeling on him, give him your url(s), and go for it.
<I get the feeling that some folks (not you of course) cry baby about cheaters stealing the top of the serps, and on the few occasions I looked at the cry baby's site, I have to say that they deserved to be at the bottom of the pile.>
If that's the case, then they will remain at the bottom of the pile after complaining.
<If they are so bad and you are so clean, and you are going to do that, why don't you be adult about it -
1. Contact the other webmaster.
2. Tell him that you are squeeling on him.
3. Tell him your url(s).
If you are so righteous, that should be no problem for you. If you have the guts to do all that, I'd say you are righteous and have no quibble with you.>
I would make one minor adjustment.. I'd give them a grace period (a week?) to make corrections to their site before reporting them. Then report them if they don't clean up.
Honestly, I don't know if I'd spend my time reporting other sites.. but if I did, what you've mentioned above is a good start.
Remain at the bottom of the pile is right.
Sometimes it's easier to think that someone is cheating, or to blame cheating, than to spend several days emailing hundreds of link requests.
Or taking a couple hours out of the day here and there to study the serps, to honestly and truly glean an understanding of why a search engine returns the particular results that it does.
Around twenty years ago I played hooky from work to go fishing off a nearby pier, as there was an unusual tide bringing salmon close to shore. All around me the old guys were pulling up salmon long as my arm. Salmon after salmon.
My pole never got a nibble. Were the other guys cheating? Nope. I just didn't know how to fish.
google has to start getting very interested in dealing with webmasters that breach their guidelines. I reported a site that had the top 4 spots with the same site under 3 different domains last month (including 1 in dmoz) but this month they are still there with 4 of the top 6.
I am going to report it again but this time if google does nothing then I am going to have to think seriously about joining the spammer in this game.
Nothing cry baby about this, I can easily copy what the spammer is doing if google is going to reward this.
Alot of posts about people being frustrated and thinking about using spamming techniques themselves...
Keep in mind that any spam formula probably has a limited shelf life. (which ends when the SE's get tons of complaints against it)!
don't be the last to jump on board
RISK vs. REWARD and all that..
If multiple SERP holders bother you guys that much (like it does me), do what I have begun to do.... create more legitimate websites.
Don't copy/paste content, with a different color scheme, make a completely new website with 100% new content. Maybe offer free shipping/higher prices with one, and paid shipping/lower prices with the other.
Go all out, new photos of products, new well-written descriptions, new cat/sub-cat formats, etc. Or make a consumer information sites, price comparison sites, etc.. targeting search terms for the products you sell. There are ways of legitimatly getting more than your fair share of the top SERPs if you're willing to put the time in and create multiple unique and beneficial sites users would appreciate.
Don't interlink like crazy, make it look like another different competitor. And have natural-looking inbound links, don't use all the same link parters as your other site either. You get the idea.
The sites you reported that are still there. Are they also buying Adwords or the main "Sponsored Links" at the top of the page?
If its hardcore spam I report it, if its not I don't I know how the market is, if I tell they'll tell chances are so I play it safe I create all the sites without cheating, or if i do the tricks i do it in ways its not possible to figure it out so it looks like im not doing tricks in the first place ;)
When working for a client, and finding someone using obvious spam tactics, or unethical practices, it would be unethical of me to overlook it. When I am a hired gun, I shoot ALL the bad guys. Thats my job. To do less would not be ethical IMHO.
Whether or not they are "punished" is entirely up to the powers that be at the search engine in question, and whether in their infinite wisdom the offender is actually affecting their SERPS and user experiences negatively or not.
Warning: If you report EVERYONE all the time to the same engines, you may appear as a whiner, and ignored.
As far as being "cool" or "running to mama" this isn't personal. Its business. For most of us anyway.
Say you have a business, and someone violates business law, and and badly affects your bottom line. Would it be considered "whining" to bring a lawsuit to stop the practice? Not at all.
It would be called survival.
To do less is to surrender and fail.
<quote> startup said
Are they also buying Adwords or the main "Sponsored Links" at the top of the page? </unquote>
No they are not using sponsored links. It is just a cheap and nasty spam with a hyphenated keyword string containing a copy of the main site.
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