Spamming Social Media Looks even Stupider than lots of Viagra Profiles

by on June 2, 2009

I have always been fascinated by hackers. The day before I decided to do my degree in Computer Science I watched the ’95 film hackers on TV. As I watched Johny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie skate about with tiny laptops I knew this was the career for me. I had never tried roller skating before and was looking forward to the challenge.

Through my University years I quickly realized that film had lied to me in every conceivable way (but mostly about the existence of women like Angelina Jolie in the world of IT). We did manage to hack into printers and send pop up messages to student monitors during class with statements like “hey I am the printer and need paper bitch” but this was a long way from promises made by the film. Upon leaving University I still had an interest in the arts of hacking and used to toy about with legacy Unix systems but decided this was not something I was overly interested in (as with IT in general).

When I began working in SEO the world of black hat was something I was immediately interested in. Blogs about black hat techniques and stories from the field are a lot more enthralling than a post on how someone wrote a really great meta description. There is also a huge amount to learn from these guys. They continue to push the boundaries and in some industries, this is required. I cannot see a really good page title / meta description getting you far in the world of gambling, mortgage loans or real estate. The problem is how do you keep up with your competitors if they are implementing aggressive strategies and going unpunished.

Google is always looking to stay ahead of black hats, they continue to tweak algorithms in an effort to keep search results clean and adding filters to penalize sites that operate outside of the search engines laws. In 2007 Google became really aggressive with how they would count links back to a site. They put the squeeze on black hats who had built up a lot of link equity using link farms, something discussed in Building Links in Aggressive Marketing. This was well covered in the great Eric Wards post Don’t blame Google for your own Linking failures. In the post Eric Ward makes some great points about link building. To establish a site with steady rankings and traffic, you need to build links from sources that will not simply be devalued on the whim of Google.

In 2009 it does appear SEO + Computing hacking is starting to overlap. You still have good old fashioned profile spam as nicely shown by quizilla

http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=site+quizilla.com+buy+viagra&btnG=Google+Search&meta=&aq=2&oq=

quizilla

Also Getsatisfaction

http://getsatisfaction.com/people/viagracheapget

This is pretty tame. A lot of .edu sites are targeted for SEO hacks, instead of dropping bots / trojans into a page, they now stuff them with links. Also cookie stuffing is rampant throughout the net. Once a user visits a compromised site, they have a cookie set with referral links to a site they are interested in (lets say “BIG TVs”). If that user now buys from “BIG TV” the referral goes to the cookie stuffer. Another common tactic is to include a redirect script where possible or just load up an iframe to your site within another one. The internet is still an aggressive place to be and at the end of the day it’s still man versus machine.

But how these guys are gaming the algorithm and using social media to rank high for certain keywords is quite smart. You can still learn from them. In the example above (quizilla) you can see the benefits in building back links to pages on web2.0 sites and not just your own site i.e. Squidoo / Hub Pages. Knowing what black hats consider relevant means they must be getting some joy from them. This may provide opportunities for you to rank legitimately on some of those platforms. Compare this to how some people are trying to use Twitter and other social media vehicles.

twitter_spam

This is just a search for search engine optimisation on Twitter Search. It appears Jay from One Year Plan has decided the best use of Twitter is to create multiple profiles and just SHOUT – “Hey look at me, I have something to sell, ask me about this and that”. Why do I find this annoying ? Well because I was actually looking for something on twitter around this keyword and could only find pages of his stupid tweets. Is this smart like the black hats above or does this stick out even worse than countless profile pages about Viagra.

I am not sure social media is meant for the same kind of spam tactics that suit the black hat world. They stick out a little more and you have a link that goes right back to your video .. !!!

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