|Odd search referrals from Live|
I've been seeing low volume referrals from Live search that look like single keyword searches. I just got one for "computers" - a term that I definitely don't rank for. I've occasionally followed these back and have never found a way to the site in question from the SERPs.
I assumed this was some kind of search within a search - like a site-specific search where only the keyword is in the referrer. Or maybe some weird bot hit from page 483 of the SERPs? Informal consultation with colleagues found that they were seeing some of these odd Live referrals too.
Are others seeing these, and does anyone have details how they are generated?
I've been seeing the exact same thing for a while now (not sure when it started). Interestingly, all hits have a referring URL that includes the variable "form=QBHP". I say hits because I don't believe these are actual visitors. Google Analytics does not count them as visitors, only my server log analyzer does (severely skewing my stats on some days). I just did a quick search on QBHP and eventually ended up at an old WebmasterWorld topic from August 2007:
These hits are not all made from the same IP, but all IPs seem to fall within the same, or very similar ranges, and the user agent is always "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.2; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)".
More related topics:
Possible Bot or Spammer [webmasterworld.com]
Concern with spammy search words [webmasterworld.com]
So now we have QBHP, LVSP and LIVSOP. Doing a search on "LIVSOP," I found a response from an MSN employee:
|The traffic you are seeing is part of a quality check we run on selected pages. While we work on addressing your conerns, we would request that you do not actively block the IP addreses used by this quality check; blocking these IP addresses could prevent your site from being included in the Live Search index. |
All keywords I'm receiving hits for do occur on my site, so it is possible that Live is performing such quality checks on, say, hundreds or even thousands of pages that appear in their search results for a particular keyword, so even though your page may not rank within the first so-many hundred results, you will still see these (human-like) requests.
I've seen some people call this a cloaking detector, which might explain why these hits look human, but aren't.
I've had a closer look at the log files and noticed that these requests almost always occur shortly after a page is visited by MSNBot. That same page, as well the linked CSS file, are then requested by a seemingly automated process that uses a "human-like" user-agent, as I mentioned in my earlier post, and an IP such as:
18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124, etc.
After that, no other requests are made; no images loaded, no other pages visited, which strengthens my belief that these are not human requests, but automated ones, apparently looking merely at the HTML and CSS of your pages. If it is indeed part of a quality check, which seems likely to me, cloaked pages might be something they're looking for, along with, perhaps, hidden text, and other spammy techniques.
I'm now seeing a succession of hits from 126.96.36.199x, using form=QBHP. This time, the "searches" are composed of 18 numbers, all starting with 63353622, e.g. 633536222102370319. I could only find this activity on one site in my initial checks.
I saw exactly 20 hits from this bot this morning, about a minute between requests. Not sure about the numbers (some kind of encoding?). Bot landed on different pages depending on the 'keyword'. Not overly impressed with the speed and number of requests.
|I've seen some people call this a cloaking detector, which might explain why these hits look human, but aren't. |
More people call it referrer spam, and rightly so.
Very irritating, it screws up your keywords logs.
Cool thread, I should have looked here before spending 30 minutes futzing with search.live.com results trying to figure out why I was getting traffic for single keyword, highly competitive terms.
Thanks robzilla for the info.
Unfortunately, they now seem to have moved away from those variables like QBHP, because I'm only seeing referring URLs like
http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=widgets, making it harder to filter them. Filtering the IP range may be the only option.
I noticed in my stats, that these hits from msnbot are causing adsense to display ads, like it's a real person!