Google Blogoscoped

Monday, February 6, 2006

More German Search Spam News

Both NetBooster.de and NetBooster.com have a PageRank 0 and can’t be googled, so chances are they’re banned (ZDNet France in 2004 reported on this too). What’s interesting here is that these are the homepages of an international search engine optimization company which, according to this PDF, had BMW among their list of clients.

Other clients referenced in the NetBooster PDF include German TV channel Sat1. However, snooping around the official Sat1.de homepage I found the name of another SEO company; SoQuero. According to comments contained within the Sat1 HTML source, SoQuero was responsible for delivering “indexable” search results (Google lists over 50,000... strangely, again with a focus on cars and used cars). This practice is often used by spammers and pollutes the organic search results, because rarely will a user who clicks on a search result want to land on yet another result.

In other “banned” news, Ricoh.de saw the Google death penalty. Matt Cutts on Friday announced an upcoming removal for reasons similar to those of BMW.de – doorway pages. Today, a site-search for Ricoh.de (a Japan-based camera maker) returns 0 results. Ricoh doorway pages – like ricoh.de/ricoh_drucker.html, which repeats “Ricoh printer” over 20 times – are best enjoyed with JavaScript disabled...

Another site that by Peter Schmidt in Siggi Becker’s blog comments was accused of using doorway pages was MDM.de, a coin collectors website with over 50,000 pages in Google. This case is a bit harder to pass judgment on: while there is a JavaScript-redirect to a completely different page than the one you clicked on in the results (like for mdm.de/123_Fussball), the non-JavaScript page on the surface looks like more than just keyword-fodder... it is actually readable. (A redirect on its own is not a sign of spam; many pages on the web use JavaScript redirects and present different content to non-JavaScript user agents.... e.g. Google’s own Gmail.com.)

The following example of doorway pages was sent in by Martin Schl├╝ter: Studserv.de is a German portal containing information for students. A search for site:studserv.de/anker/ returns about 39,600 pages. With a JavaScript-enabled browser, you will see the “normal” page centered all around the Google AdSense ads. But disable JavaScript, and you can see pages stuffed endlessly with keywords.

Update: SoQuero contacted me and asks me to clarify their view on the Sat1 search results issue:

“The technology used on quicklinks.sat1.de represents search queries which users submit on the internal Sat1 site search. On this basis, the software we use for this searches the Sat1 website, algorithmically showing the top-ranked search results. These are the basis of the pages which can then be crawled by search engines.

If you analyze the pages you will certainly notice that the pages are not exclusively covering the topics “cars and used cars,” but every other area on the website as well (mirroring the search user behavior on the site).

At other big German portals, like Spiegel.de, there’s also no spamming just because Google knows and indexed approximately 1,580,000 pages on this domain. The same is true for portals or news pages which allow e.g. their archives to be crawled by search engines.”

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