Natural Search Blog


Reach Local Scam Artists & Thwack ‘Em!

Have you ever been taken advantage of by a business, and wanted to get your due justice?  In most cases we may encounter generally bad service or unacceptable products from small businesses. But, in the worst cases, we actually get victimized by our friendly, local scam artists. It’s not just a matter of unsatisfactory service, but they willfully intended to dupe or cheat your or treat you badly!

Reach Local ScamWith merely a bad service or product, we might push for a discount or refund, and write some negative reviews about a company at various ratings sites like Yelp. But, when it’s an actual scam artist, it becomes a question of how to reach them in the first place, and then how to do anything that they’d even feel.

In the local search marketing world, many of us have noticed a spate of bad actors who are setting up fraudulent business listings (perhaps even operating under bogus names), and once they’ve lured people into doing business with them, they abscond with fees in return for shoddy service or no service/product whatsoever. So, there are some basic issues around how they are operating with impunity, promoting themselves online (sometimes out-ranking bona fide established local businesses), and then taking consumers’ money with zero accountability.

So, here are some tips we’ve made to help you REACH LOCAL SCAM ARTISTS and even thwack ‘em!  You may not be able to get your lost time and money back, but you may get a little justice or you might be able to declaw these bad guys just a bit so they can’t prey on other consumers as easily.

Tips To Reach Local Scam Artists & Thwack ‘Em: (more…)

Quova Awarded Patent for Improved Geotargeting

Quova Logo - Location MattersQuova recently announced that they were awarded a patent for various methods which improve geotargeting accuracy and capability. My understanding is that Quova has been using these methods for quite some time already, prior to receiving the patent.

Here’s Quova’s description of the innovations:

“Quova’s newly added patent describes a method for determining the geographic location of an Internet user based upon combining trace routes, user registration information, host names with textual patterns that reveal geolocation information and Internet Service Provider (ISP) service area information. These trace routes describe the pathways by which data moves through the Internet. Each node or ‘hop’ in the trace route is identified by an IP address. These interconnected nodes can be used to recreate the topology of the Internet. Each geolocation can then be assigned to these IP addresses in order to determine the location of each node, up to and including the end user’s IP address and the geolocation of that end user.”

I previously have written about Quova in my extensive article, (more…)

Google Street View Attacked As Potential Tool For Child Predators

The Stop Child Predators organization has launched a campaign specifically targeting Google’s Street View as a tool that potentially enables predators to stalk and kidnap children more effectively.

Kids at the Park in Google Street View, San Jose
Kids playing at a park in Google Street View

A video on the site presents Stacie Runemap, Executive Director of the organization, outlining how Street View shows pictures of neighborhoods, homes, playgrounds, schools and pics of kids. She further describes how Google Maps can be used to plot distances from your doorstep to bus stops and schools, suggesting that child predators could use the service to plan attacks or kidnappings. The site elsewhere describes how to request that Google remove photos from Street View. (more…)

Privacy Policy Could Be Site Quality Signal

Privacy Policies & Personal DataSearch engines have increasingly gotten involved in protecting endusers from hostile and intrusive elements on the internet, and they’ve also become more active in internet privacy issues as consumers are getting more educated about issues surrounding data privacy. Ask.com has tried to differentiate themselves by being progressive about communicating their data retention policy and by enabling users to define how long data is retained, for instance, while Google has revised their data retention policy as well as worked to aggressively block or warn endusers about websites containing adware, spyware, and other exploits. Yahoo! even recently paired up with McAfee to assess and improve the safety of sites displayed in their search results.

One aspect of search rankings I’ve written about before is the theory of a site’s quality — a “quality score” very likely is applied by Google (and to lesser degrees, Yahoo! and Microsoft Live Search) to quantify how much they may trust a site for ranking purposes and for users’ safety. There are a number of factors which might feed into a site’s quality score (including Google’s human quality auditors’ scoring), and one major factor that could be used might be a site’s Privacy Policy. (more…)

Lawmakers Ask Charter Communications Not To Share Consumer Data With NebuAd

NebuAdTwo lawmakers have asked Charter Communications not to share data with NebuAd, a company that collects users’ web surfing information in order to enable advertisers to behaviorally target ad campaigns to them.

I previously wrote about NebuAd, and I highlighted that one major hiccup I saw with their business model was consumer sensitivity associated with private data.

It appears that NebuAd is facing the consumer resistance I earlier predicted.

Yahoo Collaborates With McAfee To Secure Search Results

It was announced this week that Yahoo! and McAfee are teaming up to help fight malware. Yahoo’s Search team will take McAfee information on malicious sites and use that to filter those sites out of their search results. In addition, McAfee can take some data from Yahoo’s search results to help them identify more malicious domains. (more…)

Google’s I’m Feeling Lucky Button Enabling Spam

Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” functionality is apparently enabling a lot of email spam to bypass filters.

I'm Feeling Lucky

When you use the button by entering a keyword phrase and hitting the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button, Google sends you straight to the very first webpage in their results that matches that phrase.

Spammers have apparently found that they can embed links like this one for Natural Search Blog to the Google I’m Feeling Lucky functionality, and their emails will bypass filters that would automatically catch lots of blacklisted and spammy-looking URLs. Email filters allow links to search engine results through because many people may genuinely send such links to one another.

It was just the day before yesterday that I wrote about how a guy was using the I’m Feeling Lucky button to enable some cool linkbait involving Chuck Norris. That was a benign use of the application, whereas using it to obscure links to evil spammy sites would definitely be unethical/black-hat.

So, how will this get fixed? I’d expect that Google may have to lock down their “I’m feeling lucky” functionality so that it only works for users referred directly from the Google homepage, and from the Google Toolbar (if the user has enabled the I’m Feeling Lucky button on the toolbar).

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NebuAd – New Twist on Behavioral Targeting for Online Ads

News stories this week highlighted Silicon Valley startup NebuAd, which recently unveiled their behavioral targeting network at ad:tech.

NebuAd

Behavioral ad targeting is nothing new on the internet, and I easily recall it being offered in one form or another as far back as about 1999. In fact, 24/7 Real Media currently offers behavioral targeting through their ad network as just one case in point. So what’s new with this incarnation is the way in which NebuAd collects data to base the targeting upon. NebuAd’s innovative twist on behavior targeting is based upon monitoring individuals’ internet browsing habits through their ISP, essentially seeing all the sites and pages that a user visits. (more…)

Google Requests Help Fighting Malware

This last week, I whined a bit about Google results containing many links to malware sites, due to them making use of well-known black hat tactics. InternetNews.com is now reporting that Google is asking for assistance from the altruistic public on fighting the malware offenders. Google’s Security blog requests more assistance on fighting the bad guys, noting that they’ve improved in the past year, citing the warnings they pop up when users click on a link where they’ve detected possible malware.

Here’s one suggestion I have: (more…)

Google browser rumors resurrected

According to Ryan Naraine, Google has hired well-known browser hacker Michal Zalewski to help make their products more secure.

Zalewski has an established history of exposing security holes in various software products, particularly the Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers…

(more…)

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