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Destruction of the Web

Search engine spam was invented the moment search engines started to be good enough to send significant volumes of traffic to websites based on keyword searches.


Before the days of Google search engines used strictly ‘on page’ factors to figure out how important a page was for a certain subject or keyword. This led to all kinds of pollution on the page, such as people filling out their pages with 1000’s of copies of the keywords they wanted to rank high for.


Google dealt a huge blow to spammers and other search engines when they released their pagerank algorithm based search engine which used the structure of the web itself, the links, to figure out how important a certain page was. This principle, the scientific name for it is a ‘citation index’ is a tried and true concept in academia where it is used to figure out how important a certain scientific publication (called a paper) is.


In the scientific world there are no spammers and there is no direct commercial advantage to creating a lot of nonsense paper that cite your own paper, also there is some oversight in the world of science and the people there have a reasonably high level of integrity.


Not so in the wild-west-world-wide-web. So as soon as Google rose to ascendancy and all the old ‘on page’ tricks failed to work the tricksters shifted their attention to the structure of the web. Link farms were born, sites whose sole reason for existing is to increase the visibility of other pages from the point of view of a search engine. Comment spam appeared all over the web, inane comments that add nothing to the conversation on various fora whose sole purpose was to drop a back-link to some website or other. 10’s of millions of junk accounts were created in automated ways on free hosting sites in order to create pages that could be pointed to which in turn pointed to others with the sole purpose of increasing ‘pagerank’, which is the name Google coined to name their algorithm and the name of the 0 to 10 value assigned to any webpage that Google is aware of.


Every time Google made its algorithms smarter to combat the spammers the spammers upped the ante in a never ending arms-race to gain control of who receives the traffic that hits Google looking for certain goods or services. The commercial interests are enormous and the fanaticism with which the spammers are engaging the issue means that the web as a whole is suffering. The final closing of the circle is that nobody seems to bother with placing backlinks any more to sites they appreciate, after all Google is the way people surf the web so why bother dealing a final blow to the beautiful thing that was once the web, a globe spanning network of computers linked by hyperlinks pointing to useful information.


Google seems to have dealt a really harsh blow to the spammers in their latest update cycle. So far, the only thing I’d be pestered about with some regularity is people asking if they can buy backlinks on my websites to their websites. A typical example:

From:    Bonnie <> To: Subject: for buying backlinks :)  Willing to buy text links from your  Greetings,  This is, we need to buy some text links from you. Are you willing to sell?  If you do, could you please tell us the price and the time it could be on your website?  Could it be added on your website within one day, or how soon that could be?  If you have other resouces, you could also contact us through the ways below:  Best regards,  Bonnie  dailyshop  team Tel:1-650-461-9387 Skype:bonnie.backlinks 


I get a couple of these per day, interesting to see how integrated into the Google ecosystem they are because even though they are clearly trying to game Google in they use a address for the transaction!


Since the ‘Panda’ update I’m also getting another kind of email. These are by the companies that are a little more advanced on the SEO curve that are trying to undo the damage they did to themselves. A typical email (both received in the same week):

From:  Kristen Madey To: Subject: Link Removal Request  To Whom It Make Concern,  According to our resources you are the owner of links linking to our website and it’s pages. We own and there are a few pages on your website that are  linking to our website. We would ask that you please remove our links from these sites as soon  as possible. Unfortunately we believe that our ranking in Google is being damaged due to  these links & others.   We would appreciate your cooperation.   Thank you, Kristen Madey &  Kristen Madey | Marketing Manager T. 877-746-6664 x9703 | M. 412 979 5501  THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS E-MAIL AND ANY ATTACHED DOCUMENTATION IS INTENDED FOR THE USE OF THE ADDRESSEE ONLY, IS CONFIDENTIAL AND MAY BE LEGALLY PRIVILEGED. ANY DISSEMINATION,  DISTRIBUTION, COPYING, OR USE OF THIS COMMUNICATION WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION OF THE SENDER  IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. If you are not the intended recipient, you must not disclose, copy,  or distribute, or use the information contained in this e-mail. If you have received this  e-mail in error, please notify us immediately by return email. 


Interesting because the email does not even state which domain or page the links are on. Companies that hired SEO types in the past are finding out more and more that they are penalized by Google so they now try to undo some of the damage. There is another variation to the second email where the sender basically tries to blackmail the recipient into doing a lot of work for free because otherwise they will use the Google ‘disavow’ tool.


So, Google and the SEO spammers and their employers are battling out the war for the Google traffic and legitimate website owners are caught in the middle as collateral damage, first they have to work hard to keep the SEO spam off their pages and then (for instance, in the case of there is plenty of it that made it into the archive) when Google changes their tactics they try to strong arm those same website owners whose sites they managed to successfully pollute into working on their behalf for free ‘or else’.


It’s the destruction of the web, collateral damage. There is no method that I’m aware of which would allow a search engine to function successfully on the web the way it works today that will not result into damage to the very thing it tries to navigate. If we’re ever going to get out of this downward spiral where each new phase in the arms race reaches for bigger guns then I believe this will have to come in the form of a reboot, a protocol designed from the ground up to combat these issues and a way to search the web that makes it unfeasible for a single party to control such a large volume of traffic that it becomes worthwhile for large numbers of miscreants to make a living off parasitic behavior.




Views: 160

Tags: Destruction, of, the, web, web destruction


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Comment by Tom Gorham on June 23, 2013 at 6:24pm

Geez, these SEO spammers will never stop.  First it was keyword stuffing... then it was link farming.... now it's content farms.... and soon it will be original content on every page!  Wow, what a concept!  Eventually, we'll be PAYING respected and famous people to mention or endorse our site online with links to our site.  We can start endorsement farms.  Google will love that!  Wait a minute, we've been doing that for years.  "See the USA in a dot com Chevrolet." Thanks Dinah!

Comment by Ralph Paglia on June 17, 2013 at 9:05am

Timothy Martell - First of all, I have to give credit to Manny Luna for turning me on to this article, and the even more interesting comments that it elicited, hence my reference to SEO being dead.  One of the comments posted referred to the endless cycle of Google making changes to the SERP algorithms, and the corresponding changes that SEO practitioners make to their tactics... The comment called for the death of SEO as a business service based on Google's avowed preference and emphasis on content within a website being indexed... Yet, I know it is naive for anyone to think that Google would abandon what made them so successful, the indexing of third party references (links) to a website as an indicator of which sites should be ranked higher than others... So, to answer your question about SEO being dead; NO I do not think SEO is dead, but I wish it was!

It is not the practice of SEO that I object to, it is the selling of false promises to business owners, including car dealers that I see too many SEO practitioners engage in that drives me bonkers. I hate the way most people sell SEO because they are selling results which they cannot truthfully guarantee when they should be selling the actual services and hours they are providing.

Comment by Timothy Martell on June 16, 2013 at 10:36pm

Nice find, Ralph. Not sure how this equates to your image suggesting the death of SEO. But then you love using controversy to spark a discussion and so I guess once again, I've fallen for your trap! lol

I guess my first question is this. Do you believe SEO is dead? 

Next, do you agree with the author?

Last, if you believe the author is right. Is this any different than our outrage about our political system? What I mean is, sure, it would be great if we were all great people with perfect integrity. But just because someone says it and maybe even a lot might agree with it, is it not just an academic exercise? Nothing will actually change because the system is built on chasing its own tail.

Your thoughts, Ralph, and then I have another one to pose... Muahahahah.

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