Trademark Productions CEO and resident search engine optimization guru Dwight Zahringer wrote a series of SEO Nightmare blogs last month for Halloween and mentioned some of the rather unscrupulous things folks have done to get high search engine rankings. If you haven’t read them, you might want to take a look through our archives and take a gander. Even I couldn’t believe some of the things the man and his company have run into over the years. I mean, it’s one thing to use black market SEO techniques to manipulate search engines and it’s quite another to go directly to the mother lode, Google, and thumb your nose at them.
And yet it appears that a company called 70 Holdings has done just that. What did they do? One of their domains, Red Label News, was spamming Google news. How? Among other things, they loaded their site’s pages with tons of irrelevant keywords and had duplicate content throughout their domains and subdomains. These essentially riffed on a news story that Google had posted, so when search engine pulled up the story, Google’s links came first, then an entire grouping of articles by Red Label News. Each link had a slight variation of the original title, but all went to spam pages.
Naturally, Google yanked these and started to track down who these folks were. Ironically, after having Red Label News spam identified and pulled, 70 Holdings used one of their other domains and repeated the very same thing all over again. And of course it got caught again.
This brings up two interesting questions. The first, obviously, is who are these people? It’s a bit of a mystery because folks have been trying to narrow down a list of suspects, phone numbers, business names etc in an effort to lift the veil and it’s not anywhere near solved. Second, how did they get their content listed on Google News when they have to fill out an actual form that’s then verified by a person to make sure the site is who they say they are and does what they say they do, mainly that they are actually producing news content.
Suffice to say that Google is reviewing its submission process as well as how to detect these kinds of spam sites much quicker than it has. Plugging this particular hole will hopefully make it that much more difficult for anyone else to follow suit. Then again, where there’s a will, there’s a way and some folks have nothing better to do than find ways around traditionally accepted methods of SEO in order to take the quick and easy path around it.