NYTimes: The Dirty Little Secrets of Search

Thank you for your visit. If you are here because of the New York Times article, published on February 12th, you can see those links on the right side navigation under “Links”. After a short discussion with Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, I have decided to remove these links from my blog. This is due to a clear violation of Google’s guidelines (please see here, “Paid Links“) and I personally am a strong believer, that search results should be as authentic and valuable as possible.

The JC Penny link for “dresses” has been removed from my blog, without my doing. I can only speculate why this is the case and who could have influenced this.

10 thoughts on “NYTimes: The Dirty Little Secrets of Search

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  3. Rick

    One of the things I’ve noticed is that all the sites in the NYT article are WordPress sites, my assumption is that someone knows how to ‘hack’ your WP site.

    I know I had a WP site that was hack with links for “forex” (http://goo.gl/kWqt7).

    1. CoCaman Post author

      The hacking is a complete different part. WordPress sites get hacked very often and links are injected.
      But for example TNX offers you plugins and PHP snippets to include. And with the famous “5 minute WordPress installation”, this kind of stuff is easy as “1-2-3″. So it is pretty easy to take part in this.

      1. Robert

        Yes, since 2007, hacked sites get used a lot for manipulating search engines. One reason is that PR7 (well ranked well trusted) sites aren’t necessarily more secure than PR0 sites but certainly more valuable for web-spam. At first, it was really blatant. Ridiculous keyword spam leading to drive-bys or trojans on .EDU/.GOV sites. But you see a lot less now, and I seriously doubt the reason is a rise of security consciousness of webmasters. When you spam “Free Pr0n install codec” the webmaster hears about it. If you quietly sell PR7 links, you escape notice. Like everything in SEO, it’s an arms race, and it always gets more intricate and subtle.

        An example is how the links were embedded using PHP. The PHP snippet is in your version of the code, but your server executes it and replaces it with the links. Unless you wrap it in a comment or they include a comment, there’s no way for an outside visitor to look at your source code and know those links came from TNX. They look like you selected and wrote the links yourself. Which is the point of course. Anyway, notice how that is a significant evolution from the “LinksToYou” sort of obvious, static page. Too easy for LinksToYou guys to get caught. So here you see link-swapping evolving with this PHP trick.

    1. CoCaman Post author

      Well, the “Geeky” navigation is manually controlled by me. Some of those sites are mine. The cell phone recycling for example was/is an initiative for sending in your smartphones if you buy yourself a new one.

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