Natural Search Blog


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…)

Recent Google Improvements Fail To Halt Massive Malware Attack

Various news sites are reporting that a malware attack was deployed in the last couple of days, apparently based entirely upon black hat SEO tactics.

Software security company Sunbelt blogged about how the attack was generated: a network of spambots apparently added links into blog comments and forums pointing to the bad sites over a period of months in some cases, enabling those sites to achieve fair rankings in search engine result pages for a great many potential keyword search combinations. The pages either contained iframes which attempted to load malware onto visitors machines or perhaps they began redirecting to the sites containing malware at some point after achieving rankings. Sunbelt provided interesting screenshots of the SERPs in Google:

Malware in SERPs
(click to enlarge)

And also showed some screenshots of some of the keyword-stuffed pages which apparently got indexed:

Malware site page
(click to enlarge)

I think it’s not at all a coincidence (more…)

Resurrection of the Meta Keywords Tag

Danny Sullivan did a great, comprehensive examination of current status of the Meta Keywords tag, and his testing showed that both Ask and Yahoo will still use content in that tag as a relevancy signal. Both Google and Microsoft Live do not. His clear outline of the history, common questions, and contemporary testing of the factor were really helpful.

However, I think there’s still a case where Google may be using the Meta Keywords tag… (more…)

Tempest in a Local Teacup

Okay, so in the ongoing minor brouhaha sparked from my “Extreme Local Search Optimization Tactics“, Dave Naffziger has posted a rebuttal of my recent post.

Just to clarify, if there was any doubt, and to steer the unwary newbies of search engine optimization from bad practices, I’m posting another follow-up rebuttal of the rebuttal of the rebuttal. Terribly recursive, I know, but bear with me and you might find this entertaining and informative. (more…)

Local Search Mentions in the News

It was cool that Greg Sterling mentioned one of my projects during the last week — IdearcLocal.com (the site was previously known as “VZlocal.com”, prior to our recent divestment from Verizon Corporation):

Idearc Local Search

It’s always gratifying to have one’s work get noticed!

In a less-than-glowing mention of me, David Naffziger, VP of Strategy and BizDev at Judy’s Book, was critical of my recent article on Extreme Local Search Optimization Tactics. He apparently feels that some of these tips could result in “spamming” online directory listings. I beg to differ, of course. (Not to be too pedantic, but his use of the word, “spam”, is inaccurate because spam is the mass-mailing of unsolicited email notes of a commercial nature. My posting had nothing to do with email. Heh!)

Read on for my rebuttal on this and some more local search news.

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Questions for SEOs

A few weeks ago Stephan invited me to their motley crew and though I start with great enthusiasm, I’ve had many sleepless nights considering how to make a first impression. I’m Paul O’Brien and while I, as do many, write a blog of my own at seobrien.com, I am grateful for the opportunity to share, amongst the tremendous SEO experience that Chris, Stephan, and Brian bring to the table, my natural search perspective and experience from Yahoo! and HP. My background lies in advertising, paid search, comparison shopping, and brand and demand gen advertising; SEO is only a part though it consistently remains the most beneficial. I’m a practical SEO, heavy in analytics and science, dependant on resources and support, and light on the technology; hopefully, I can share with you something of value.

At the risk of not delivering to your expectations, or perhaps merely my own, I thought I’d start simple. I noticed that over a year ago Stephan posted a great series of questions for SEOs, questions about the industry, the practice of SEO, and our future. Missing from NaturalSearchBlog is a discussion of the appropriate questions to ask an SEO when seeking support. Here are my thoughts:

Look for a company that understands your business, marketing, technology, and the internet extensively.  Most importantly, do not shop around based on price. You don’t want a deal as you need expertise while at the same time, SEO isn’t really expensive rocket science (it is alien for most people but not rocket science).

Find a professional that meets your needs, start with these questions, let us know what works for you, and what you look for from an SEO.

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Want to optimize? Don’t use Trackback Submitter

For a number of weeks now, we’ve seen a real spike in comment spam submitted to NaturalSearchBlog. We have a nice, heuristic-based module that keeps this out, and we moderate comments. I normally review the filtered comments, and they’re usually just tons of crappy spamlinks for sex, drugs, and gambling. Today I found a number of bona-fide comments that got aggressively filtered out with the deluge of spam, so I resurrected those and approved them. If you’ve commented here recently, we apologize for the delay in approving the comments — but they just got sucked in with the bulk of crap.

One of the 5,000-plus spam comments was from a vile company called “Trackback Submitter”. I knew what this was, of course, but I went to their site anyway in order to see what they say about themselves, and found unsurprisingly that they LIE, LIE, and LIE! If you’re a webmaster wanting to build traffic, avoid this software or you could damage yourself. Read on and I’ll explain…

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