You may have seen this post from Dave Naylor about the spam on the Nexus One Google SERP, one of the sites listed is a malware site.

On the SERP for “we are the world 2010” (song to help people in Haiti) 6 of the 10 results are malware sites. This has come around as the topic is trending.

we are the world 2010 Google spam

It might get cleaned up soon, but don’t click any of the listings!

I’ve seen in the past scraper sites cause problems for sites in Google and this blog is currently been scraped and outranked sometimes by brokencontrollers.com. A quick spam report to google and the offending site soon goes away. But it seems that the page to report spam to google has been removed recently and you can only report spam while signed into a Google account…

The page used to be located at http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html known as the “unauthenticated” you could report spam anonymously, so no ties to your Google account which links to your site.

google-report-spam-result-form

That page now 301 re-directs to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport?hl=en which does load up the form but only when logged in to a Google Account with Webmaster Tools.

The landing URL from the natural ranking for “report spam” takes you just the dashboard of webmaster tools which is pretty useless, guessing they haven’t added the correct re-direct.

google spam report serp

This seems a strange move by Google as this may decrease the number of spam reports.

1. Not everyone has a Google account.
2. Even if you have a Google account your might not have Webmaster Tools.
3. You might not want to report on an webmaster tools account that contains your site if you use any black hat methods. E.G. reporting your competitor may draw attention to your site.

Google’s best method of detecting spam and paid links are reports from webmasters, SEO’s and users. This move to to remove the unauthenticated / anonymously report method may have made their jobs a little harder?

I’ve recently started working in Manchester City center so been looking at Google maps for local places to eat at dinner. As ever, the first place to look is Google Maps. After a few clicks on locations strangely See Tickets, a ticket sales company seems to have claimed a lot of local listings that have nothing to do with them, thus having a link to their site.

Each one links to seetickets.com
see-tickets-google-maps-spam

Looking at the locations is it possible that See Tickets could sell ticket for the Palace Theatre, but not for 5th Ave a nightclub or Retro Bar.

A search for “see tickets” with the map in Manchester brings up some great results:

Piccadilly Gardens (Bus stop and open space)

Piccadilly-gardens-seetickets

The old ODEON on Oxford road which shut down about five years ago.

old-odeon-seetickets

The big wheel in the Triangle

manchester-big-wheel

and Long Legs a gentlemen’s club.

long-legs-seetickets

All of the links go to http://www.seetickets.com/see/index.asp? and it looks like see tickets haven’t stopped there, they’ve done the same for locations in London too!

parliament-square

You can imagine tourists trying to buy a ticket from See Tickets to go to Parliament for the day!

Anyone else getting this for their location? Go to your local area on Google maps and search “see tickets”

Sometimes as an SEO you reach a point when you’ve tried everything to get a site ranking or out of a penalty. If your out of options then a good place to turn is the Webmaster Forums from Google, MSN and Yahoo.

They are great resource to get help from people who really do want to help you even though they have nothing to gain. It seems at the moment that the Bing Webmaster Forums are being used to grab a free link to a site of your choice.

You can add a link into your post or signature and it won’t have a nofollow. For example

bing-webmasters-forum-1

http://www.bing.com/community/forums/p/647352/9532720.aspx

Most of the people who are there to help may have a link to their blog or company which is acceptable considering they are helping people. Some are taking a little further.

As expected you always get a viagra link.

bing-webmasters-forum-viagra-link

http://www.bing.com/community/forums/p/649775/9549831.aspx

And this fella has got an advert in his sig!

bing-webmasters-forum-advert

http://www.bing.com/community/forums/t/649566.aspx

But, if you give a platform for people to add links in that are not no followed, you will get links to porn sites, it’s inevitable.

bing-webasters-forum-porn-links

http://www.bing.com/community/forums/p/649539/9546835.aspx

I’m guessing the links were not in the post originally and added at a latter date. The wysiwyg editor is secure you can’t stick iframes or JavaScript in but it just means that people will start posting to get a link and not necessarily to help someone.

Hope this hasn’t ousted anyones primary source of links!

I search the internet a lot during the day and I do come across dodgy sites but this afternoon this one has rather annoyed me. A search on Google for LPG Conversions and down on page 60 will show you the start of a network of sites targeting the key phrase “LPG Conversions + Area”.

lpg-conversions

In total they are around 19 of these sites and they are ranking well in Google for a range of searches. Once you dig down into the site they don’t link back to one site which is strange but the phone numbers go to “Rochdale Auto Rescue” who don’t have a site so you wouldn’t really call them up about a LPG Conversion.

It just seems all very pointless that this network of sites takes up places on the SERP’s where legitimate companies could be.

I’ve pointed out a few sites in the past that have working black hat technique another one cropped up the other day, I mentioned it on twitter.

Showforce.com are a company that provide staff for events, promotions etc, I’m sure they are a great company but it seems that the SEO company they are using are not too great (well they are ranking in Google…). In this case plenty of key phrases have been hidden in a h1 tag at the bottom of Showforce’s homepage.

showforce-hidden-text

So how is this text hidden? Well the text is placed in a H1 inside a div called “SEO”, the style is set to hidden.

Does this work? Well yes, the text is hidden and the Showforce site ranks number one at for “event staff”.

event-staff

Will it work for longer? We’ll have to see. It seems that Google need to fix up and look sharp on their spam detection.

When taking on a new client one of the first things your going to check over is that the client’s site isn’t breaking any Google guidelines. I’ve seen the past a client sign up, you do your initial links to some directories that attracts Google and the site gets banned. It’s best to check over sites for spam before you do anything. Get the site cleaned up and then start the link building.

One check that people often miss is alt text. Alt text is simply the text you give to an image.


Red Jumper

Google will read the alt text, so some dodgy SEO’s will place key words in the alt text.


Cheap Red Jumper From The UK, HOODIE, HOODY, UK, Cheap Red Jumper From The UK, HOODIE, HOODY, UK

The general rule is the alt text needs to describe the picture, accurately.

So how can you check for alt spam text. Normally you scan through the source code and try to see large clubs of blue text. This is only helps when the alt text is lengthly and will stand out to the naken eye. But alt text doesn’t have to be lengthly to cause your site to be banned.

For example every alt text in a page could be “loans”, it won’t stand out in the source code but it’s still breaking the guidelines. So how to check for such alt text? Use web developer tool bar.

Once you have the toolbar installed go to the page you want to check and click “Images” –> “Display Alt Images”.

web developer toolbar

This then overlays the alt texts on the page in yellow. For example this BBC page.

example of alt text

Then you can get a better understanding if any of the alt text are breaking the search engine guidelines. The areas I generally find alt spam are:

  • Headers
  • Navigation / Menu that are made up of images
  • Tables that have images to make boarders
  • Footers

There was a lot of press recently about the release of SEOmoz’s Linkscape tool in the last few months. That’s seem to have died down now an I’ve had the chance to use the tool at work and found it very useful.

It’s great for finding links that your competitor have that you should have as well. Of course you can use something like Yahoo Site Explorer but Linkscape enables you to grab the cream of the links quickly. The ones that are do follow and maybe based in the UK.

It’s help me to find a reason why a site has been penalised. It identified a site that had 10,000 links from only 52 domains, with around 8,000 using the same anchor text. It stood out as unusual and proved the theory about how the site had been penalised.

I’ve also used it to find duplicate sites from clients as all the site were from the same IP.

I do think that it will become essential piece for my day to day work. It is a tad expensive to sign up for if you are an individual so if you work for a company try to get your company to sign up for pro membership!

I was looking over some paid links today from a company that you can buy links from. The company uses a combination of their own sites and contacting site owners offering them money for placing links on their sites.

Here’s the stupid bit, 5 different sites had placed the link in a div called “{companyname}-paid-links”. So why go to all the effort of setting up the links and then make them traceable to Google. They may as well stick a big arrow on the page saying “yup Google paid links over here”. Once they get the name of the div all Google’s spam team need to do is search sites for div’s called “{companyname}-paid-links”.

It’s same as using hidden text and calling the div “hiddencontent”.

The moral of the story if your going to do paid links, which might not be the option anyway then don’t make it easy for Google to pick up on them, place them in articles, if you have a network of site host them separately and use different names when registering the domains!

Dead Set is a five part TV series running on E4 this week. It follows the Big Brother house in the middle of a zombie outbreak in the United Kingdom. Ok, whats this to do with SEO?

At the end of the show there were no credits which is rather strange for a TV show. Instead a URL is listed on the screen – www.deadsetcredits.com it was on for all of one second. So if you didn’t catch the URL your going to search in Google for “dead set credits”, “dead set end credits”, but the Dead Set website doesn’t appear at all in the listings.

If your going to advertise online make sure your website ranks for the URL your going to display on the TV and all the variations, without the www’s just the domain, with spaces, without spaces etc. So why doesn’t the Dead Set Credits site rank?

To start www.deadsetcredits.com 301 re-directs to www.e4.com/deadset/credits.html so Google’s not going to index the page. Google has yet to index www.e4.com/deadset/credits.html but when it does they they should start to rank well inheriting the strength of www.e4.com.

But… Google might have a problem with that page. It’s a flash page with the credits scrolling up the page. If you check the source.

Dead Set - E4.com

The official website of Charlie Brooker's E4 horror series Get Flash Player 9 to View Deadset
html version
e4

and that H1 is styled up


#flashcontent h1 {
text-indent: -1000000px;
}

So technically the text is hidden (placing the H1 far to the left of the screen), as that text doesn’t appear in the flash file that’s being played it’s breaking Google’s guidelines. If you have a flash file on your site you can place ”hidden” text in the page providing the text is the same as the text in the flash file (you should also do this using the noscript tag and not css styling).

Anyway I fully recommend watching Charlie Brookers Dead Set, I’m a fan of zombie movies and Charlie Brooker, a truly great combination!