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Google's CN Domain Spam Plague - now noted by John Dvorak

     
5:59 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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In our September Google SERP Changes [webmasterworld.com] discussions, members have been discussing the plague of spam sites using a cn domain extension. This has gone on long enough that now John Dvorak of PC Magazine published an article about it. Pretty high profile exposure for an embarrassing problem that is apparently quite challenging for Google's infrastructure!

Our members here also note that many of these domains use an odd character instead of a dot - possibly part of the scheme. Also, these spam domains may be from anywhere, and not neccesarily China at all.

Warning for those doing detective work - many of these spam domains will attempt to install malware on your computer.

...nine of the top ten results are these weird Chinese sites....the more specific and detailed the search request, the more likely Google is to list these Chinese sites. The issue has apparently been reported to Google, but if the basic algorithms allow this sort of result, even banning the specific sites will not stop this sort of abuse.

[news.yahoo.com...]

9:18 pm on Sept 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If I was Google, I'd go after the most "public" entry first so people who reads the article starts thinking that they (GOOG) are actually doing something to get rid of them. I wouldn't care what I did (hide them from displaying, trying to remove the cached page.... anything) just to prove everybody wrong.
I think GOOG is too deep into the mess though, and have a long way back. Not only do they have to fight thie spam mess, they also have to try to fix their Universal Search, fix Dmoz, get PR back into the ALGO and all this while they are trying to go into other markets.
I know the search team is dieffernt for other teams, and I am guessing that the Search Team right nowis pulling their hair out to get everything fixed before the public loses their faith in GOOGs SERPs. IF people start getting spyware warnings when clicking on links then I'd say they stay away from GOOG and it's going to take a long time before a trust has been built up again.
It seesm that GOOG didn't even KNOW they were there when it was first reported and when they did find out, they said it not a big deal, we just have to do an "infrastructure change" and we're done.....
It's been going on for 2-3 weeks now and that is the same time period people have been reporting -950 penalties and other weird penalties, while spam sites don't have problems getting a high ranking.... Someone mentioned long tail queries, and that is right on the spot! Sites that have been using long tail for a long time are hit by this mess!
9:43 pm on Sept 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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IF people start getting spyware warnings when clicking on links then I'd say they stay away from GOOG and it's going to take a long time before a trust has been built up again.

Let's be realistic: Most people are never going to hear about this problem, and if they do, they'll put the blame on the shady sites, not on Google.

If Google and Yahoo (see Dvorak's column) are having a "CN domain Spam Plague," they'll obviously need to find fixes--not for publicity reasons or to retain trust, but simply to protect unaware and therefore vulnerable users.

9:59 pm on Sept 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The word "sutra" originates from Sanskrit - so programmers from India would also be a possibility

Sutra in this case is a software product made by Russians to assist search engine spammers in distributing their traffic from multiple spam sites into designated areas: if you search for "sutra tds" you will find more info about it.

10:25 pm on Sept 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Interestingly enough, on all the searches where I've found these things, they start on the 4th result.
10:33 pm on Sept 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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netmeg,

Does that mean that the first 3 are "trusted" and can't be touched by anything? What type of sites is it? Authority sites?

"Most people are never going to hear about this problem, and if they do, they'll put the blame on the shady sites, not on Google"

If you go to a store and buy some milk that is bad, would you blame it on the milk farmer or the store? Would you buy milk from that store again?

11:51 pm on Sept 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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<<If you go to a store and buy some milk that is bad, would you blame it on the milk farmer or the store? Would you buy milk from that store again? >>

Absolutely yes, provided I have bought milk there previously without any problem, and that the grocer would take it back and give me a free replacement. Everyone knows that crap happens.

3:33 am on Sept 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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IF people start getting spyware warnings when clicking on links then I'd say they stay away from GOOG and it's going to take a long time before a trust has been built up again.

Hmmmmm, this brings a thought to mind -- if only PC users are vulnerable to these spware/malware attacks then maybe there is still a chance for Mac users to rule the Internet. :)

4:09 am on Sept 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The same issue to a lesser extent is festering in the .RU tlds, Google needs to be aware of all international TLD with non-western alphabets when ranking English language domains. Seems some spamers with deep pockets found and are exploiting a loophole in the algo.

A 'Text Link Ads' seller out there is leading the charge on the Russian front. Not the real advertising company that no longer ranks for their domain name.

Google drops the mainstream paid link advertisement sellers and replaces them with massive link spam sellers - ironic.

3:03 pm on Sept 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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How about Google just block all .cn domains -- with certain specific exceptions for well-known, established .cn sites -- from the USA-displayed SERPs until they come up with an algo fix? That should be a cinch to do.

The Great Firewall of China in reverse! There would be some poetic justice in that.

3:15 pm on Sept 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Well you can see how this sort of spamming, if it started to knock results off the front page, could be used for blackmail.
4:29 pm on Sept 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I am wondering if these link spammers hacked some major Chinese and Russian hosting companies like Dreamhost was hacked in June where approximately 3,500 sites were hacked "primarily for SEO purposes"

In looking at the spam links on some of these .ca and .ru sites. It seems the links are generally well hidden on the pages - almost like someone is sneaking them in.

8:51 pm on Sept 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I've picked up tens of thousands of inbound links from these .cn spam sites. The links all appear to be detected by Google between Sept. 10th - 14th.

I'm guessing they must have picked up my URLs from the SiteMap autodiscovery mechanism in robots.txt.

5:57 pm on Oct 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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There's a note on Matt Cutts' blog (dated yesterday) that says that some fixes for this issue have been put in place (and others are coming) All I know is, the searches where I saw it come up are all clean now. Woo hoo!
6:37 pm on Oct 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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netmeg - Thanks for the note re Matt's blog. It's not in Matt's main entry... it's in a comment Matt entered October 1, 2007 @ 10:27 pm...

[mattcutts.com...]

...this spam was a little different than the typical brute force attacks that people have tried before (.be, .info, etc.) and... we were looking at making some infrastructure changes to better tackle any .cn issues we saw. There are a few changes to be made before Im completely happy, but one is already done and another change is pending, so were in a better position now than (say) last week and I expect us to continue that progress.
8:43 pm on Oct 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hopefully the additional change will address the benefit some sites have gained from links from these .cn spammers. I'm dealing with a virtually empty website up at number one whose link profile is almost 100% *.cn sites.
1:24 am on Oct 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I thought that most of the .[space]cn domains were gone but they still show up. Maybe not as many but they are still there.
I also found one of these starnge looking names I have seen before but couldn't find before.

I sure would like these site gone, just like everybody else, AND the ones that are still in top of search results.

[edited by: tedster at 2:21 am (utc) on Oct. 4, 2007]
[edit reason] report specific domains directly to Google [/edit]

4:21 pm on Oct 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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the site I entered in my post I DID report to Google. I didn't think it mattered if I posted it because it looked so different with all these strange characters in a domain name. You couldn't even read it and it looked totally different when it showed up in the SERP. I copied the url, pasted it here and it turned up totally weird.

Someone here had a theory about Google not being able to either read the domain names right with unicode chars and not being able to see that the "title url" and the domain link belonged to the same site, hence not removing spam....

Anyway, the [space] cn sites are still there and other .cn sites too. Maybe not as many, but still there especially when you add a location to your query.

5:56 pm on Nov 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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They are back again. What is interesting is that they are typically brand new domains.

Here is what I see.

They show up for relatively long tail searches that appear to not have many trusted results in the main index and these are being pulled from the supplemental, which probably does not have enough entries from "normal" sites.

The pages are stuffed with keyword rich content that is random jibberish. The format is typically 1200-2000 words then lots of internal links with the keywords in the anchor text and another 1000-2000 words after. Sprinkled in is four or five header tags with keywords as well.

At the bottom of the page are links to quality resources to make the page look more "legitimate"

The page includes javascript that checks to see if the referrer is a user following a Google serp and redirects the user to a site that is serving up trojans that backdoor your computer. Nice

So G is getting gamed and the casual user is getting owned. I think far to many people put far too much faith in how good Google really is. The quality of serps I see are pretty poor most if the time for things I look for.

This should be easy to fix. Wonder why it hasn't been already.

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