Google Blogoscoped

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

SEO Spam Case Study: ShopFactory’s Backlinks Injection (by Steffan Klein & Michael Veith, according to the About page) is a system to help you create online shops. The makers promise that their tool “helps you get top Google rankings with built in search engine optimization.” Looking at some of the shops, you can see they use frames, so they’re probably lying about that. However, and customers may not know this*, setting up your shop with ShopFactory may help the ranking of... ShopFactory.

Just look at the following ShopFactory-powered shop called “RoB” (for all your “quality leather rubber” needs). The top version is what you see when you click on the page in Google, and the bottom version is part of what Google stored in their cache:

The source of the cached page is even more interesting. Quote from the HTML:

<B>This page contains the source code to power the</B></font><A HREF="" TARGET="_blank"><H2><FONT COLOR="#000000">shopping cart software solutions of</FONT></A> </H2><H2><A HREF="" TARGET="_blank"> <FONT COLOR="#000000">your secure e-commerce solution.</FONT></H2></A>

Wait, isn’t the “h2” element used for headers? Yeah, that, and trying to fool Google into believing this backlink is very important (the link is additionally given a CSS style – “A:link {text-decoration: none}” – that makes it look like normal text). It seems to work, too: I get around 86,600 pages for the Google search [“Do NOT change this page. It is NOT visible to customers” shopfactory], and ShopFactory at this time has a PageRank of 7, ranking in the top 10 results for the query shopping cart software solutions. Michiel, who sent me this, says “I hope Matt Cutts will read this, since I lost my faith in the Google Spam Reports.”

*Well, unless they carefully read through the last couple of sentences of the long terms of service, which include this statement: “3D3.COM [maker of ShopFactory] has the right to access website data and website content to use for promotional purposes and the supply of other services.”


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