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Monday, February 12, 2007

Search Spam: Hidden Counter Links is a German online shop for lamps. At the moment, their PageRank 6 homepage is ranking #1 in for both “Lampen” and “Leuchten”, the German words for “lamps.”

Did ArteLight achieve this Google position through great products alone? It doesn’t look like it. Not only are they available as “partner links” or “link tips” on otherwise unrelated sites like, or (this looks like a large text link ads campaign). The owner of ArteLight, Marcin Nolte, has another site of his – the free – which provides a site counter service. Now take a look at the counter code and check if you notice anything unusual (user ID removed, colorized):

<!-- Logstats Counter Code -->
<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript"
<img src="">
<a href="">Leuchten</a>
<!-- Logstats Counter Code -->

As you can see, LogStats (a service with 9,531 members, according to owner company Nolte Internet from Herford) is a little more than just a visitor counter – it’s also a convenient way to trick sites into pimping ArteLight’s lamps through a backlink contained in the noscript part of the counter code. Of course, the link is not completely hidden: it will be painfully visible to every webmaster taking the time to read through the counter code. However, the link will not show on the rendered page with typical browser settings, and users also aren’t visibly warned of the fact they’re part of a link building campaign for designer lamps.

Some additional irony: when you sign up for, the terms of service emphasize that you are not allowed to include the counter in “sites that support SPAMMING.”

[Thanks Markus Renschler!]


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