SEO Advice: clean house before press releases

(Just a quickie post)

A quick tip related to checking your own site: if you’re going to send out a press release about your SEO company, make sure your site is clean before you do the press release.

Site in Internet Explorer:
website

Site after pressing the <ctrl>-A key:
website with hidden text

We often read press releases too. If you’re going to attract attention to yourself, make sure your site is clean first.

91 Responses to SEO Advice: clean house before press releases (Leave a comment)

  1. Thanks Matt,

    I noticed one piece of hidden text on my site and have removed it. I can’t remember placing it there. However, hopefully this will lead to Google seeing my site with good content.

  2. I’m assuming that was white text. Wouldn’t Google pick that stuff up on its own?

  3. Chris_D

    Happy 3rd Birthday to Google Australia!
    :)

  4. Star

    That does not surprise me at all. Some SEO “experts” are the greatest spammers and cheaters on this planet (hidden text and links, robots.txt exclusion of link directories, etc.).

    And then if you ask them how much they charge for top-positions in the dating or casino industry (rhetorically of course) they would tell you that there may be “problems”.

    Star

  5. hehe – strategic as opposed to tactical SEO?

    Matt can you comment on SEOInc’s PR0?
    Do ANY of these firms provide things that you can’t do with common sense?

    PS – kudos on printing out Danny’s 25 things. I think almost everybody who knows you and other Googlers would agree with his GOOD list thing that said how sincere, sharp, and dedicated you all are over there.

  6. Dave

    Matt, this is who I would like to see Google ban rather than banning some poor mom & pop site who was ALSO duped by them.

    I really believe Google should be fighting the cause (spammy SEO companies) rather than the result (poor mom & pop sites who were duped by them).

    There ARE many, many SEO companies that use these spammy tricks, linking to text buying schemes etc etc. I would love to see a list of ‘bad SEO companies’ on Google somewhere.

    I really believe this would scare (fear is what most humans base decisions on) many SEO companies into ‘towing the line’.

  7. Dave would make a very good point…if Strategic Internet (SIC) were the root cause of the problem.

    But the problem, and I suspect Matt has already figured this out since it was rather simple for me to do, is that Strategic Internet is something of a Robespierre; they don’t do the SEO work themselves.

    In this case, the company that appears to do the SEO work is SEO Inc., for which SIC resells services (along with many others using various affiliate marketing hyperlinks). The link is on the SIC site itself (although I’m not giving these guys credit); when the site itself loads (after 30 seconds), hover over the “About Us” menu link, and then click “Strategic Internet Consulting” from the drop-down menu list. Once you’ve done that, scroll down to the bottom of the page.

    What I find interesting, and what I’d personally like to know the answer to, is what would happen to a site that obviously resold the services of another company that’s banned from the index.

    It seems to me that this provides a backdoor to someone who wants to get into the big G without necessarily having to apply for reinclusion, and leads to some major abuse potential, which is a pretty scary thought IMHO.

    What would happen to a company in that instance, since I’m sure there are others?

  8. By the way, does anyone else find it kind of odd that a “company” that talks as large a game as this one does has a page with the resume of the “president” on it?

  9. This website has hidden text, then why google still not banned the website? Please advise.

  10. Miguel

    ” New dog… same old tricks”

  11. I think that Dave is right some small companys are riped of by Black hats i have some interesting stuff from one of our clients which came out when we found a hidden blog on the server.

    We also found a very blatent keyword stuffing on a competitor for one of our potential Clients – 800+ keywords right in the open just below the fold of the page.

  12. What annoyed me even more about that site was the auto full screen script. I’ll decided what size my internet explorer window is thanks.

  13. Tonnie

    Nice that you found out about their little scheme.

    But when is Google going to do something about the real spammers?

    I see more and more of sites being used for linkfarming, misleading redirects etc.

    Just an example of a site: http://www.adoverpakkingen.nl

  14. Nadir

    Boy, I was checking some results in Google.fr for searches related to SEO companies and all I found was javascript and CSS spams…I know that we can send a spam report for these guys but what will stop them for trying again?

  15. They still haven’t fixed it. Their webmaster must be on vacation …

  16. Pascal

    what’s up with SERP’s Matt?

    That’s the only thing i am intrested in.

    Maybe i just can better start making SPAM-pages ….

  17. Rahul

    Matt Cutts:
    Why are you wasting your time reviewing junk sites? This advice doesn’t really help anyone.

    Why don’t you review large sites which have lost all their pages to supplemental club?

  18. Hey Matt

    No Google toolbar on your browser?? LOL

    Great post

  19. ScottW

    Perhaps it has come to the point where Google should create a “Google Approved” tactics program. Let SEO companies volunteer to be scrutinized at a higher level and with stiffer consequences in exchange for a way to assure clients that their methods are truly white hat. Increased risk for SEOs, decreased risk for less knowledgeable clients.

    Thoughts?

  20. Why are you using IE?!?

  21. What a Maroon

    Actually its the “same dog, same old tricks”.

    Time to nuke SEO Inc again for this stunt. 2 strikes and you’re out. After all, both G and SEO Inc are in California.

  22. Thank you for your candid comments. I have removed the text. I just learned about this today. That text got put up years ago before I learned all that I now know about SEO. We promote and execute ethical SEO. We do some of the work ourselves and we do contract some of it out.

  23. Pascal

    I agree with Rahul and i wil say more. A company like Google can not tolerate that employees (or whatever Matt is) break down individual sites.

    And what the fuck is going on with the supplemental thing?

    You don’t have to say something for me, for everybody you have to make some explanation.
    Every day that passes Google loses at least 0,1 regular visitors. If this keeps going on they wil not even be visitors. Results are less relevant and i wanna now what Google is going to do on that NOW

    (Last time i spent my time in checking comments here)

  24. If I put hidden text on my site and I report myself, will you review it, ban me, let me back in after a week (when I clean it up and point to a dubious SEO) and give me this much free PR as well? :-)

    Somehow I think we’ve all seen enough examples here — how about a statistic with “# sites banned/week” split up for …. hidden text, hidden links, sneaky redirects, doorway pages, cloaking, etc. and just emailing the site contact in the whois (privately) to tell them that they have a problem and “go fix it”.

    I know I am slow, but I fail to understand why showing the same spam tricks over and over again can help fight web-spam in general (with free PR for the companies / sites behind it: how many of you went for a look?!). The only message that conveys is that you’re manually fighting 1000′s of spamers that automatically publish spam-sites every second — and that this kind of spam STILL works (otherwise you wouldn’t need to ban them).

    Show us some progress! :-))

  25. LB

    JohnMu is right, you show all the time the most ignorant and stupid ways to cheat user (and google), websites that use these methods should change their SEO advisors or forget SEO at all.

    There are many techniques that are tricky or hard to track down (dhtml layers, using different pages for google and user by tracking IPs, hostnames or OS with server-side scripts), and from what i see by looking at serps they are used more often than the kind of you showed.

  26. I gotta agree with JohnMu here.

    I have a lot of clients with competitors who use other tactics like doorways pages and sites set up specifically to increase link popularity but they don’t use hidden text.

    I report these sites to Google yet they still remain at the top. I even submit the URLs in which these companies use to inflate their link popularity. Sometimes I feel that if you don’t use hidden text you can get away with doing all the other shady stuff you shouldn’t be doing because it is difficult to tell if a site if the site was setup by the comapny or a third party, like an affiliate.

    I hate cheaters….

  27. JohnMu, I’m trying to give sites a heads-up to stop stuff like hidden text before we really start taking stronger action on it.

    Johny Favourite, that auto-resize script annoyed me too. :)

  28. JohnMu, Matt and all, again, thanks for all your comments, it’s the first real authoritative feedback I’ve gotten in al long time. The auto-maximize script came with the template I modified into what you see there. It works great on a dual-monitor system – at least if you decide to view the Flash movie. And hey at least I gave you the option of viewing the Flash movie – rather than forcing you to watch it. I will consider change that.

  29. Tic

    I agree with JohnMu, we see the same spam tricks over and over again, but unforunately I can not see any changes in the serps. I wrote spam reports for german sites with different kind of spam (DWP’s, hidden text, hidden links, cloaking) and what I see is, that all of these sites are still indexed after more than 6 months.

  30. Kevin

    “What is so wrong with their tactic???”

    If there’s nothing wrong with it, why did they need to hide it?

  31. What is so wrong with their tactic??? :O
    All they had done was repeat the Title ONCE in the Body as invisible text
    most of those words are ALSO in their Meta Keywords and Description

    It is important that companies are given some degree of flexibility
    only because they are making an aesthetic Decision for a CLEAN, Minimalist Look – but wanted an extra push for relevant keywords

    This is different from Malicious Deceptive Spam

    Under those circumstances – it is okay what they did

    Seriously, do you enjoy making a complete ass out of yourself? Because you do one of the most thorough and complete jobs of it that I’ve ever seen.

    Let’s see: it’s not deceptive because:

    1) It’s invisible.
    2) Keywords are repeated that don’t really relate to the overall content of the site.
    3) It’s obviously a landing page.

    And the site itself isn’t deceptive to the end user because:

    1) It affiliate-markets without expliclitly stating as such.
    2) It uses an article from Robin Nobles in such a way as to suggest to the end user that Nobles is an employee of the company.
    3) The “company” doesn’t appear to do their own work, based on said affiliate marketing and their mentioning of various partnerships.
    4) The ties into SEO Inc., a firm that took a fair-sized boot in the ass from Big G for being a bad boy.

    But those little factoids won’t get in the way of your rant, will they?

    Matt: GIT ‘IM, PAH! And since I’m reading between the lines on “stronger action on spam”, are we getting another hardcore update/shakeup/everyone bitches, moans and complains because their site dropped as the result of the Margaritaville (yeah, I named it…Jimmy rules, so you should use it) update?

  32. (with free PR for the companies / sites behind it: how many of you went for a look?!).

    While it IS PR for the company, I’m sure it resulted in 0 extra business for them. In fact, I’m willing to bet it lost that at least 1 client. That’s good enough for me.

  33. whoops, didn’t mean to submit yet. The greater lesson here is that people at Google read SEO related press releases.. Which you can read into a ton of ways and create conspiracies all night long..

    I myself think Press Releases are another form of spam. 99% of them aren’t newsworthy anyway.. Who cares that MyCompany.com hired a new php coder or that SomeMarketingFirm signed a new client for a $2000 deal? Can you imagine what the world would be like if your daily paper operated on the same way search engines do, or just used press releases?

    as for what difference do these outings make? Overall, not much.. but i’m reminded of the story of The Old Man and the Stafish

  34. Star

    Matt, care to share why you removed my comment ?

    Thanks

  35. >I’m trying to give sites a heads-up to stop stuff like hidden text before we really start taking stronger action on it.
    That sounds reasonable. Thanks. I’ll clean up my site now, LOL. :D

    While on the topic of hidden text, could you elaborate on the acceptance of CSS image replacement, iframes, div/block level hidden content to be activated through javascript, ajax content retrieval / replacement? I assume these cases will all need to be manually checked for “misleading the visitor” — if they do match the site, does a site using these techniques have to worry about getting hit with a “hidden text” penalty / ban?

    You can do so many nice things with that technology, but I would drop it and run fast if you were to say that such a site might encounter an automatic (accidental) ban.

  36. I have submitted some sites that have similar issues as this one. I just don’t know how quick Google acts on those submissions.

    Good idea JohnMu. I’d like to see how many sites have just been banned for the day/week, how many have been reinstated and a featured “banned site of the day/week”. (What about http://www.google.com/bannedsites/ ?) linked from the guidelines page. Definitely will become one of the “Things I Love About Google”.

    Sorry if I am going overboard.

  37. Dave

    RE: “JohnMu, I’m trying to give sites a heads-up to stop stuff like hidden text before we really start taking stronger action on it.”

    Long enough Matt, take stronger action NOW……..pleeeeease.

    IMO, any SEO company that spams IS doing so knowing full well that it’s outside the Google guidelines. Matt, don’t give these crooks one inch of lee-way and make examples of them. These &*%$#@$^ have ruined enough businesses.

  38. Really glad to see Google working on the Spam problem. It is a huge issue that will not be corrected overnight.

    Dave unfortunately some Mom & Pop sites may get caught. I’m not sure how Google could make a distinction between a Mom & Pop site and a site that was built to Spam.

    If Mom & Pop ignorantly hired a webmaster they are still accountable. If they did something because of bad information they found on the Internet they are still accountable.

    Again it is unfortunate but there are very few forums or blogs where Spam sites can be outed.

    I’m thankful for what Matt is doing. And Google has made some changes on their Information for Webmasters that everyone should look at. I think Google is really trying to deal with the Spam issue.

    It won’t happen overnight like most of us would prefer. Just rejoice that they are publically working on the problem.

  39. Can’t Imagine how embarrassed the site owner when Matt shoot her..

  40. LB

    “RE: Dave unfortunately some Mom & Pop sites may get caught. I’m not sure how Google could make a distinction between a Mom & Pop site and a site that was built to Spam.”

    If they can’t make distinction, then they should stop banning or penalizing and start to work with the spam problem from scratch. I’ve seen lots of changes within few years with google, and every time a new “invention” is made to fight spam or similar matter more and more clean websites are being penalized for flaws in their algorythms, but in the end spammers will stay, they will adapt and for certain they don’t get dummer with time, thats for sure.

  41. Banned In NJ

    As a webmaster for a site that was recently banned, a few things that may need tweaking on Google’s end, and I wanted to bring a different kind of cloaking to your attention.

    My company had a bunch of redirects from other domains that we registered because they are different brands of products that we sell. We also kept an old yahoo store account and redirected it into our old site only because the old store domain that was widely publicized was a store.yahoo.com domain. If we stopped paying for it, all of the legacy links to us would die. I have taken down the old yahoo site and I’m trying to think of a way to replace the forwarding scripts. Perhaps a non-clickable message telling people to go to our new site in their browser?

    Additionally, I spent a better part of this week cleaning up a site that had been SEO’ed prior to my coming on the scene. I removed some instances of cloaked text, and Macromedia FLASH SPAM/cloaking! I’m not sure if Matt Cutts has run into flash spam yet, but one of the items I stripped from our site was a 1×1 pixel flash movie that contained cut & pastable text INSIDE the movie. I can post a sample if you need to see how it works. I only found it because I was deleting anything dubious off the server. And guess what? FLASH SPAM is not easily viewable with the ctrl+a test! Especially when it’s only 1×1 pixel!

    I’m not sure if Google would pick this kind of thing up, but I’m trying to figure out how it works. I’ve noticed that some flash objects include text that you can cut and paste and that some contain vectorized text.

    Now that I’ve gotten our site back up to snuff, I’ve resubmitted it to Google for what I hope will be eventual reinclusion. I’m confident that the site is clean because I went through each page visually and via the source code. I suppose I’ll just wait and see.

    Out of 6 sites that I currently maintain, only this one site has been banned, but I’m combing through all of them just to make sure that everything on the sites is above board. I may also kill any of our affiliates that don’t have sites of real value. It’s a bit subjective, but some of our affiliates merely cut and paste content from our sites and then paste their trackable links into their pages.

    Incidentally, sales are down by about 20% on the banned site, but that’s because we’ve always been heavy adwords advertisers and those are still running. Most of the loss of sales seems to be from the fact that we stopped forwarding the old Yahoo store to our newer site to get our site up to code. Some of the loss is definitely from the delisting.

    It’s been a learnin’ experience. My question is what do we do about other sites that have registered multiple domains, some of which include variations on our products or trademarks? What makes multiple domains “spam.” How does Google determine the intent?

    Banned In NJ

  42. Matt

    I know SEW gets a lot of abuse here… and you may be tempted to not allow his comments. But, please don’t…. it’s just to fun reading his comments and others reactions to them. Very entertaining!

    And yes, ‘do it NOW’ is good advice. Please take stronger action against spam tactics… the sooner the better. My industry’s search results are not effected by spam. By MY ability to search and use google is getting hurt by spam. Google is still the best, but it appears the spammers have a firm foot hold everywhere.

  43. Dave

    Connie, I’m talking mom & pop sites vs SEO companies that spam. These companies DUPE Google into giving them good/better SERP rankings AND DUPE mom & pop sites into hiring them.

    I would like to see a top-down approach. That is, out all/most of the spam SEO companies and only then worry about the sites who have ALSO been duped by them.

    If not, it’s like trying to mop up water without shutting the tap off first.

  44. Agreed with Dave. In order to get rid of the spam, you have to get rid of the biggest sources of it first and use them to fire warning shots at everyone else.

    Hey Matt, off-topic question: do you happen to know the approximate wait time to get signed up for Google Analytics?

  45. Now Adam, I do take offense to some of your comments ;0.

    Let’s see: it’s not deceptive because:

    1) It’s invisible. – No question there
    2) Keywords are repeated that don’t really relate to the overall content of the site. – They DO RELATE to the overall content of the site
    3) It’s obviously a landing page. – Landing pages are a staple of successful website marketing. Besides, it is my index page with a clear message, an option to view our Flash site. Nothing deceptive there.

    And the site itself isn’t deceptive to the end user because:

    1) It affiliate-markets without expliclitly stating as such. – Having a few affiliate links is how most websites make money these days. AND, check our dropdown menus – Join our Affiliate Program is one of the options.
    2) It uses an article from Robin Nobles in such a way as to suggest to the end user that Nobles is an employee of the company. – Where did you get that impression?
    3) The “company” doesn’t appear to do their own work, based on said affiliate marketing and their mentioning of various partnerships. – As stated above, we do some, we contract some.
    4) The ties into SEO Inc., a firm that took a fair-sized boot in the ass from Big G for being a bad boy. – So why do they still rank so high?

    Besides what I had, a repeated title tag at the start of my HTML, is extremely minor compared to what you see out there where sites stuff hundreds if not thousands of invisible keywords.

    I may put the keywords back in but make them visible and everything will be hunky dory. ;-)

  46. In some cases, for design reason, I use CSS to control the display of some text with image. That means I hide the text but show the image with the exactly same text on the image. Is it a spam?

  47. Richard

    ha – they’ve removed it from the home page… but they’re still upto no good – check out the footer on /jumpstart.asp :o)

  48. I agree: if people can’t even take the time to properly fool a search engine, they should be removed immediately. :p

  49. walkman

    well, at least we found an honest SEO (Thanks Matt) :
    “If you are not technically savvy and just want to find someone who is professional, experienced, honest and ethical to manage your Web site’s Search Engine Optimization campaign, click on Strategic Internet Interactive Marketing .”
    http://strategic-internet.com/strategic_search_engine_optimization.shtml

    hahahaha. The funny part is they could have put all those words and more in a few short paragraphs, and ranked higher instead of relying on 1997 techniques.

    Matt, please take a look at this supplemental thing: something is defintely not working right.

  50. walkman

    >> These companies DUPE Google into giving them good/better SERP rankings AND DUPE mom & pop sites into hiring them.

    In Google’s defense: If Google let sites slip, then all would claim to be duped by SEOs, when they actually hired them in most cases to do whatever it takes to be #1. I’m sure Google deals with these on case by case basis and if a small bakery risks a shutdown they’d give them a break, but to insitute a “get out of jail free” card for all non-seo sites is not smart.

  51. It probably didnt help that they had a mirrored site a http://www.sintc.com.

    I am sure Matt does not pick these examples randomly and that the spam he “outs” on a particular site is probably only the tip of the iceburg for that site.

    Keep up the good fight Matt.

  52. kenny

    Ahhh..clean it up for who? Google? Truth be told, between the sandbox and the good spam that works, I doubt the guy had any intention of ranking for “SEO” or any related terms in google, maybe a shot at the supplemental index ;).

    Me thinks you are being much too consumed with self importance. There are other SEs ya know, who don’t serve stale bread.

  53. Banned In NJ

    I tracked down the source of the software that was used to create the Flash Spam after going hoarse yelling at the old webmaster of our site. Here is the source:

    http://stealthseo.com/

    The software converts images into a flash movie that is loaded with keywords. Contrary to what I thought was possible, if you go to the before and after image about 2/3 down the page, click on the flash image and then hit ctrl+a — then paste it into notepad, you will have cut and paste a bunch of cloaked keywords,

    So, our site had a 1×1 pixel flash object on it that was chock full o’ keywords, It’s gone now. I think that if we are ever relisted, we’ll have a decent ranking simply because we are in a niche market and a long history with lots of organic links.

    Anyway, what are your thoughts? Can Google perhaps ban companies that make this kind of software from the index?

  54. When is Google going to get rid of sites that use cloaking and java script redirects. I have sent in many spam reports and I still see sites doing this. Everybody knows you can buy an old domain (pre 2001) with good backlinks, cloak it, load it with doorway pages and make a fortune with affiliate ads.

  55. I think they going to use the same trick on their client’s site too, ban them forever

  56. Dave

    RE: “but to insitute a “get out of jail free” card for all non-seo sites is not smart.”

    You missunderstand. I’m not suggestng anything like that. I’m suggesting Google take a top down approach. Out one spammy SEO company and you likely stop hundreds of legit sites being turned to spam.

    Like I said, there no use mopping up water until you turn the tap off!

  57. treeee

    I really see nothing wrong with the site. Big deal if they included a sentence in white. I agree with the above comments that if Google is so concerned about this, it must be because it works.

  58. Banned In NJ

    Just wanted to update anyone in this thread. Within about 2 weeks of being banned, we scrubbed our site from top to bottom and as of this evening it appears our listing is back on Google.

    Google was definitely fair to us. It was a huge black eye for us (I even had a nightmare about the ban!) In fact, that I am writing to several of our competitors (we are in a very incestuous business — the entertainment industry) about some of their spammy practices to see if we might not actually be able to help each other by creating related sites sections and linking to each other. We compete on keywords, but not really to the same markets.

    Anyway, does anybody have any feedback on whether Google would be susceptible to flash-based spam/”keyword honeypots”?

  59. Dave

    RE: “Anyway, does anybody have any feedback on whether Google would be susceptible to flash-based spam/”keyword honeypots”? ”

    I guess some poeple never learn!

  60. Hey Shea…can you warn the rest of us before you post? Because I was drinking water when I read your response and it made me spit water all over my desk. It’s worth $1000 too (solid mahogany) so I don’t wanna be spitting stuff on it. Thanks. :)

    Now Adam, I do take offense to some of your comments ;0.

    There’s nothing offensive in them. You took offense because you were called out.

    1) It’s invisible. – No question there

    Okay.

    2) Keywords are repeated that don’t really relate to the overall content of the site. – They DO RELATE to the overall content of the site

    Then why aren’t they anywhere to be found now? Seems to me that if they’re so important, they should be mentioned at least once or twice more besides in the hidden text area.

    3) It’s obviously a landing page. – Landing pages are a staple of successful website marketing. Besides, it is my index page with a clear message, an option to view our Flash site. Nothing deceptive there.

    Riiiiiight. Anything that makes the user do more work or wait is a staple of successful website marketing.

    I don’t know where or who you got that information from, but that is a complete and utter pantload. Anyone who has ever developed a website with an index landing page can tell you that they are death from a user-friendliness standpoint. They don’t get to the point, they force the user to do more work, and they waste time.

    1) It affiliate-markets without expliclitly stating as such. – Having a few affiliate links is how most websites make money these days. AND, check our dropdown menus – Join our Affiliate Program is one of the options.

    Good for “most websites”. What most websites do or don’t do should have very little effect at best on what you do.

    There’s nothing wrong with affiliate marketing in and of itself. The problem is when it’s presented as someone else’s services, and it’s not clearly defined to the end user. In your case, you’ve missed on that. If I were Joe Blow off the street, I wouldn’t have a damn clue why I was switching sites. That’s deceptive.

    2) It uses an article from Robin Nobles in such a way as to suggest to the end user that Nobles is an employee of the company. – Where did you get that impression?

    I didn’t. I know who Robin Nobles is (as I’m sure most people who read this do). The problem is that most of the people you’d be trying to target wouldn’t know her from a hole in the ground.

    Since you didn’t explicitly state that she’s not a part of your company, the mentioning of her name in your article implies that she is. Again, you and I know better, but the average Joe wouldn’t.

    3) The “company” doesn’t appear to do their own work, based on said affiliate marketing and their mentioning of various partnerships. – As stated above, we do some, we contract some.

    Okay, but at what point is it contracted? Again, it isn’t clear.

    4) The ties into SEO Inc., a firm that took a fair-sized boot in the ass from Big G for being a bad boy. – So why do they still rank so high?

    You might want to talk to Philipp Lenssen (a regular poster on here) about that. The thugs over at SEO Inc. gave him a rough ride last year.

    http://blog.outer-court.com/search.php?q=SEO+Inc.

    Besides what I had, a repeated title tag at the start of my HTML, is extremely minor compared to what you see out there where sites stuff hundreds if not thousands of invisible keywords.

    So is punching someone in the mouth as opposed to repeatedly shooting them. You’re still hurting someone.

    You crossed a line between straight-up and below-board. You got caught. Obviously you’ve corrected the problem, but whether you learned your lesson is still very much in doubt.

  61. Banned In NJ

    David,

    When I asked my question, I wasn’t asking as someone interested in exploiting it. I was just asking if anybody had seen it before.

    Some people may never learn, but after spending the better part of a week combing through our sites, I thought that this kind of potential web spam was worth discussing. Especially since it’s a potential cloaking method that can’t be seen when hitting ctrl+a.

  62. Dave

    RE: “When I asked my question, I wasn’t asking as someone interested in exploiting it. I was just asking if anybody had seen it before.”

    Yeah right :) It’s not for me it’s for a friend ;)

  63. Banned In NJ

    Yeah, okay Dave. :P

    As someone who just has his site reinstated after a ban, I’m going to post a comment on a blog run by the head of the Google web spam team. :rolleyes: I may not have a Mountain View IQ, but I’m not from Redmond either.

    If cloaked text can be hidden in a flash object, that’s a legitimate spam issue.

  64. Dave

    Flash is EXTREMLY SE unfriendly (even user unfriendly) and should only be used for demos etc. You should ban Googlebot from the flash page, have a SEO HTML version and link to the Flash page.

    RE: “If cloaked text can be hidden in a flash object, that’s a legitimate spam issue”

    Yes it is, that’s why I’m astounded you are considering it.

    Google guidelines are very to-the-point and non-ambiguous IMO. Read those and you have all your answers :)

  65. Dave, I think I’m gonna have to disagree with you for the first time on a couple of points:

    1) The Google guidelines are ambiguous, but that’s not something they can avoid. They’re subject to interpretation by all of us, and therein lies the ambiguity.

    There are those of us that play it safe, those of us who push the limits and quite often get away with it, and those of us who push the limits and get caught.

    2) As far as Flash goes, it has its use. The problem is that the Macrowhores push it and the #2 web-page-producing blight (Dr*am*w*av*r) down our throats with a seemingly endless succession of badly-coded sites with no real flow or direction. But then again, I’m a moron and I guess Flash is 2 Advanced (dot com) for me.

    Of course, we could all just build website the way Strong Bad teaches us to. This is some great advice right here.

  66. Banned In NJ

    Dave, I’m not considering using it. : I *already removed* a 1×1 pixel flash object from a web page and discovered the text inside by using ctrl a while clicking on the movie (by accessing the file directly it took up the full screen instead of just 1×1 pixel. The former webmaster identified the program he used as http://www.stealthseo.com, although I supposed anybody with knowledge of flash could create it in flash.

  67. Banned In NJ

    For further illumination:

    look at this flash object:

    http://www.stealthseo.com/stealth.swf

    left click while over the image.
    select all
    left click again and *copy*

    paste into a text editor and you get these keywords:

    SEO, search engine optimization, traffic, hits, webmaster, SEO tools, website marketing, seo book, seo company, seo services, seo software, flash seo software, seo software review, seo solution, seo tool bar, yahoo seo, google seo, seo web site design, seo consulting, seo, seo guy, best seo, seo help, web seo, seo program, seo information, agency seo, seo firm, SEO Consultant, SEO Tutorial, SEO Tools, seo, Search Engine Optimization Forum, Pagerank Development, SEO Company, SEO Glossary, SEO Book, seo software

  68. Dave

    Yes, that is spam. Whether it does them any good or not is another story.

    RE: 1) The Google guidelines are ambiguous, but that’s not something they can avoid. They’re subject to interpretation by all of us, and therein lies the ambiguity.

    Not in mind they aren’t. What do read as being ambiguous?

  69. Dave

    BT, I wouldn’t go near anything http://www.stealthseo.com is selling!

  70. 2) Your images will be protected from image theft.
    (Try to steal the one on the right, you can’t)

    IIRC, can’t Lynx grab a Flash image off of a website and download it to a user’s machine? I haven’t played with Lynx in years, but I remember that being possible on one of those machines.

    A buddy of mine does it on his personal site to keep track of all the Flash movies he likes (not posting the URL to keep him out of trouble and because he doesn’t want people visiting his site.)

  71. Too funny! This should be added to the list of “what to look for in an SEO company”.

    Matt I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Kinderstart lawsuit if you can say anything at all ;-) I can’t help but think that if perhaps they hired an SEO they wouldn’t be in this position – something as simple as unique page titles and page descriptions might have made a difference.

    Now all the publicity (news releases) are further overshadowing their ranking.

    I laughed so hard when I read this. I forwarded it to my clients and recommended that they also sue Google for their lost fortunes in March :-)

  72. Ken

    Here’s what I would like to see. I’m hoping some Google engineers could pitch in their 20% time and write up a Google validator program – similar to W3C HTML Validation Service – that will return a spam score for a particular domain and list the areas where the webmaster should clean up their act.

  73. Dave

    RE: “that will return a spam score for a particular domain and list the areas where the webmaster should clean up their act.”

    That would allow reverse engineering of Googles algo. Not likely to happen.

    Google already spells out what is spam in their guidelines.

  74. Chris Vandapool

    I have sent so many spam reports about the exact example Matt gave at the beginningo fthis post for www groomingvans.com
    Highlight it and pages are all filled with the same type of stuff. Why are the reports not examined? My clients want to know why can’t i do this for their sites if it’s ignored by G and I just tell them it’s not worth it! Matt, take a look at the site mentioned??? :)

  75. Matt, didnt really know where to post this, so hidden text topic seemed closest. I didnt really want to send this to the spam reports because i have yet to figure out how they infiltrated. I have no desire to take this approach, but they got my term ‘nursing degree’ in your engine.
    http://www.mhhe.com/physsci/astronomy/fix/mesboard/messages/25123.html
    [view source]!;) They got the WHOLE page. Im sure they hacked in, but i cant figure out what message board was being used. I must say this one gets me, love to year your thoughts on it.
    -justin

  76. Fiona

    I hope this is the right place to put this. I was offered advertising by a company, but looking at their site

    http://www.thevillafinder.com

    they have miles of hidden links on the front page, obviously this isnt right and i am not going to advertise with them, but wondering whether google depends on user reports or whether the search engines know about these things anyway.

  77. It was a nice joke that even SEO company was trying to be sneaky even using the press release material. I wonder how many other sneaky SEO out there……..

  78. David

    Matt,

    I work for my company’s in-house PR department. This snake oil about SEO optimization of press releases become a directive for our company thanks to the many SEO scammers out there promoting it as their latest service.

    When a press release is SEO-optimized, it becomes a terribly repetitive release that often conflicts with AP press release style.

    I know you’ve touched on the subject before in another thread. But I would greatly appreciate if you could you write a more detailed thread about how online press releases do and do not help your site ranking.

    Thanks greatly in advance.

  79. This company has never had any affiliation, partnership or association with SEO Inc.

  80. Then why is your logo and company affiliation plastered all over their site?

    This oughta be REAL interesting.

  81. Adam Senour Said,
    March 28, 2006 @ 11:29 pm

    Then why is your logo and company affiliation plastered all over their site?

    This oughta be REAL interesting.

    I just cant help to be dismayed at how quickly the SEO community jumps at conclusions and wants to assume the worst. This kind of mentality must change.

    Response from SEO Inc demanding removal of all unauthorized associations with our site. We have also had countless instances of duplicate and illegal copying our our content and other numerous activities.

    —————————-
    Garry,
    We had applied to your Web Development partner program but never received a reply from anyone at your company. I apologize for pre-empting what we thought would be a good working relationship. I would have expected at least a “thanks for your interest” with a yea or nay response. Apparently our application fell through the cracks.

    We have removed all references to your site from our site.
    Shea Ellison

  82. I just cant help to be dismayed at how quickly the SEO community jumps at conclusions and wants to assume the worst. This kind of mentality must change.

    It wasn’t necessarily you that I was asking the question to. I was asking it to both you and Shea.

    As far as assuming the worst, I wasn’t assuming it of you per se. I’ve had my own content lifted and used in various ways by other people with or without my permission. So I don’t prejudge on any of that stuff.

    But the email above doesn’t exactly help your own credibility. Just a suggestion.

  83. If you want to see some hidden text that I have reported many times about, check out http://www.elkgroveacura.com. They have hidden keyword text behind 3 images on their home page. To date, I can’t tell that any action has been taken.

  84. Press releases are a good way to get word out on your products and services. However they are abused just like other forms of legitimate marketing. In the long term all the various forms of spam will be detected and stopped. Why not follow the guidelines of the various search engines and avoid running into problems in the first place. The Google guidelines are about a page in length. The same goes for MSN and Yahoo. They all pretty much say the same thing and the theme is common between them. All internet marketing professionals and copy writing professionals must read and adhere to these guidelines if they want to succeed in the long term. IF you spent the time learning the right way to do things and marketing properly you would be far ahead of spammers in the long run. I believe strongly in promoting SEO in education. I wish there was a way to detect spammers and get them to sign up for SEO Anonymous or some sort of a rehab program where they are treated for this disorder. Maybe Google can take initiate and start such a program for spammers they catch :)

  85. I almost wish things were like Yahoo! about 8-10 years ago, when a person reviewed a page and than manually entered it in the that search category. I hate algorithms and the time wasted by trying to cheat something that clearly could change at any moment. I wish SEO wasn’t based on factors that hinder the chances for a small company to do well online. Whether you are a black hat / white hat / gray hat SEO expert, I hope that you realize bought into a very flawed system that seems to have everyone going out of their heads and up in arms over what they can and cannot control for a price.

  86. Carey

    Hey guys,

    I’m not sure how I got here but somehow through a previous post at SEOchat… anyways, I don’t think I found an answer about my problem I believe in yet.

    I work for an international company. Currently we have domains pointing to others with the same info… a no-no i’m sure, but I’m working on that. Aside from that I’m wondering if hosting in local countries is better on rankings than having all international sites hosted on the same server, with clear links to one another?

    I welcome all comments, good and bad!!! But go easy one me, haha

  87. Hey that’s a great catch.
    Is it not there in the algo itself, to tackle these kind of issues?

  88. Hi Matt,
    I work with pages that can display a lot of information for the users. Some times I would like to hide some part of the content to show it on request. Is a question of usability, not SEO. Just to let scan the most relevant information at first sight and optionally show more by CSS whitout having to reload the page.

    Does Google take that as spam? I think it would be unfair if it does.

    thanks

  89. Hi Matt,

    I’ve heard conflicting things about press releases, mostly around SEO press releases. I’ve heard that something like this PR for SEO vs PR for people is just PR spam. Does google treat it as such?

  90. Oh my God …Matt I was searching your website looking for a news on page rank release and came across this website… ridiculous.

  91. Yes, I second the notion Matt, this is one problem of some SEO, and they are so excited or eager to release their own site that they forgot to clean their site. Clean site really attracts visitor. More visitor means more votes and more votes means higher Page Rank.

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