SMX Live: The Spam Police

Mar 10, 2011 - 2:05 pm 3 by
Filed Under SMX West 2011

Live Blogging Coverage SMXBelow is live coverage of the The Spam Police panel from the SMX West 2011 conference. This coverage is provided by Barry Schwartz of RustyBrick and Brian Ussery aka beussery.

Disclaimer: The coverage is brought to you in real time, using a custom live blogging tool. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments for inclusion into the live coverage. During the live event, live notes will auto-scroll with newest entries at top. After the session is complete the archive version will have the oldest entries at the top. We ask you to please excuse any typos, as these are live notes.

Finished Auto-Refresh: Off
Barry Schwartz: 11:17:39 am
Okay, here we go.
Barry Schwartz: 11:17:56 am
Sorry for the delay, Google just announced they let you block sites again http://searchengineland.com/google-brings-back-blocking-sites-in-search-results-67723
Barry Schwartz: 11:18:58 am
Danny introduces this panel
Barry Schwartz: 11:19:33 am
Matt Cutts, Software Engineer, Google Inc.
Sasi Parthasarathy, Program Manager, Bing, Microsoft
Rich Skrenta, CEO, Blekko
Barry Schwartz: 11:20:14 am
Sasi is going to give us an overview....
Barry Schwartz: 11:20:26 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:20:43 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:21:22 am
What is spam? Spam is one page that uses one or more techniques to inflate their results in a search engine and doesn't add value to the user.
Brian Ussery: 11:21:23 am
Spam pages use one or more spam techniques to inflate position in SERPs but offer low utility.
Brian Ussery: 11:21:49 am
Bing takes algo and manual actions
Barry Schwartz: 11:22:02 am
How? Search engines care about two things, content and links... Spammers target those things...
Barry Schwartz: 11:22:09 am
There is page level spam and link level spam...
Barry Schwartz: 11:22:45 am
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Brian Ussery: 11:22:50 am
Link level spam
- link farms
- link exchange
Barry Schwartz: 11:24:20 am
Hidden content through hidden text on the page and there are also hidden links on the page and can be hacked into your page.
Brian Ussery: 11:24:27 am
Page level spam includes:
- keyword stuffing
- parked domain
- hidden content
hidden text
hidden links
Barry Schwartz: 11:24:36 am
He shows examples....
Barry Schwartz: 11:25:09 am
He shows Colby Community College's web site... It has tons of hidden links...
Brian Ussery: 11:25:22 am
Colby community college site used as example, my guess it it is hacked
Brian Ussery: 11:25:33 am
Bing confirms, site hacked
Barry Schwartz: 11:25:40 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:25:58 am
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Brian Ussery: 11:26:14 am
- Machine Generated COntent
content stiched with keywords taken from query logs
no logical meaning trying to read the content
Brian Ussery: 11:26:56 am
- Re-direct spam (cloaking)
Barry Schwartz: 11:27:00 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:27:33 am
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Brian Ussery: 11:27:46 am
-Spam Hijacked sites
Barry Schwartz: 11:28:01 am
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Brian Ussery: 11:28:07 am
Rutgers mathematics dept used as illustrtion
Barry Schwartz: 11:28:12 am
This site is neutral they sell both viagra and cialias
Barry Schwartz: 11:28:28 am
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Brian Ussery: 11:28:55 am
Scareware:
- target spiky queries that follow popular events
Brian Ussery: 11:29:59 am
Scareware tells users computer is infected and asks users to download fake virus software.
Barry Schwartz: 11:30:53 am
Paid links: They don't count unrelated links...
Barry Schwartz: 11:31:09 am
Reinclusion into Bing: there is a URL, it is very long...
Brian Ussery: 11:31:14 am
Paid Link and Link Exchange:
- spam oriented link exchange
- all links intended to manipulate search

Bing counts relevant (related) links but not others
Barry Schwartz: 11:31:29 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:31:42 am
Sasi is now done...
Barry Schwartz: 11:32:19 am
Matt Cutts is up now....
Barry Schwartz: 11:32:20 am
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Brian Ussery: 11:32:39 am
Spam Examples Matt Cutts
Barry Schwartz: 11:32:39 am
He will show spam examples, I'll try to take pics, Brian will add context....
Barry Schwartz: 11:33:14 am
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Brian Ussery: 11:33:31 am
Matt showing A La Grande Cloche site with large white area below fold. He says this is a dead give away for the spam team...
Barry Schwartz: 11:33:33 am
White white
Barry Schwartz: 11:34:17 am
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Brian Ussery: 11:34:18 am
Cloaking / sneaky redirects - This is when you show different content to users and Google bots. Against guidelines
Barry Schwartz: 11:34:21 am
Keyword stuffing... misspellings
Barry Schwartz: 11:34:42 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:34:44 am
Auto-generated text, that almost looks like english...
Brian Ussery: 11:34:55 am
Hidden Markov models to generate textual content
Barry Schwartz: 11:35:12 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:35:14 am
Link exchange requests..
Barry Schwartz: 11:35:27 am
Matt gets them and it is like walking up to a cop and asking where can you buy drugs. :)
Brian Ussery: 11:35:41 am
LINK EXCHANGE REQUEST :) Matt says he gets them and that is like walking up to a cop and trying to buy illegal drugs.
Brian Ussery: 11:36:29 am
Organic links are ok but be cautions when webmasters contact you about exchanging
Barry Schwartz: 11:36:46 am
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Brian Ussery: 11:37:04 am
Paid Links are often masked as other things in this case "Popular Sites"
Barry Schwartz: 11:37:37 am
There are also paid links in the content area of that blog post, not just on the left side...
Brian Ussery: 11:37:42 am
When you pay a $1 per post this is about the quality you get. (see photo)
Brian Ussery: 11:38:08 am
Short guide to seo, make something great that people will link to.
Barry Schwartz: 11:38:23 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:38:34 am
More exmaples of paid links...
Barry Schwartz: 11:38:50 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:38:52 am
Hacked sites example...
Brian Ussery: 11:39:27 am
Buying links can place you in a bad neighborhood. Hacked sites was a massive problem in 2010. Google had major resources. One site had to bring in FBI

A few days delay in patching can cause HUGE headaches...
Barry Schwartz: 11:39:47 am
click for full size
Brian Ussery: 11:39:57 am
Matt showing hacker in China selling access to sites.
Barry Schwartz: 11:39:58 am
Example of a chinese hacker selling access to your web site and it lists the PR of the site they hacked into...
Barry Schwartz: 11:40:20 am
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Brian Ussery: 11:40:52 am
Panda feedback from users and SEOs.

User feedback positive

SEO feedback: yeah we got hit but we deserved it
Brian Ussery: 11:41:56 am
Panda update is ALGO and not manual, no algo is perfect. Waiting on more internal testing and block data from Chrome...
Barry Schwartz: 11:42:32 am
Now Matt announces the block feature built into Google
Barry Schwartz: 11:42:48 am
See http://goo.gl/W3gxJ
Brian Ussery: 11:42:59 am
Try Chrome Block extension for Chorme.

Google Block list extension rolled to 10% of users (US guessing not confirmed)
Barry Schwartz: 11:43:51 am
no, the extension is available to all. This new feature of blocking results via Google.com is available to 10% of searchers, it is rolling out and will be available to 50% by 1pm PST and continues rolling out...
Barry Schwartz: 11:44:08 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:44:15 am
Google does both manual and algorithmic spam fighting...
Barry Schwartz: 11:45:12 am
Manual team does proactive spam fighting, finding spam on the internet & reactive spam fighting via spam reports
Barry Schwartz: 11:45:51 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:46:02 am
Google is sending out more penalty notifications...
Brian Ussery: 11:46:31 am
Register with Google Webmaster Tools so Google can notify you via email if site issues are detected.
Barry Schwartz: 11:47:04 am
Reconsideration requests can be submitted google.com/webmasters
Barry Schwartz: 11:47:22 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:48:03 am
So with Panda it doesn't really help but they do look at the data
Brian Ussery: 11:48:08 am
Reconsideration request:

algo
doesn't apply
engineers can see

manual
does apply
1 week
consideration more info sent back

http://www.Google.com/webmasters
Brian Ussery: 11:48:46 am
Google is trying to be more transparent and trying to figure out ways of sending more info back to webmasters...
Barry Schwartz: 11:49:38 am
Next up... Rich
Barry Schwartz: 11:49:55 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:50:15 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:50:36 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:50:46 am
blekko blocks sites, they blocked top twenty sites and last night they blocked 1.1 million
Barry Schwartz: 11:51:17 am
They came up with an algorithmic technique that used the data and blocked these 1.1 million sites
Barry Schwartz: 11:51:33 am
Blekko has a broader definition of spam...
Barry Schwartz: 11:51:59 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:52:00 am
Dangerous spam example....
Brian Ussery: 11:52:32 am
Some would say phone book is spam, showing real life examples of spam
Barry Schwartz: 11:52:45 am
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Brian Ussery: 11:52:55 am
Mechanical Turk - 40% spam
Barry Schwartz: 11:53:08 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:53:25 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:53:27 am
What is a search engine?
Brian Ussery: 11:53:29 am
What is a search engine, its a rating agency for a top ten list for everything
Barry Schwartz: 11:53:37 am
millions want to rank for that search...
Barry Schwartz: 11:53:41 am
there are three winners
Barry Schwartz: 11:54:20 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:54:39 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:54:45 am
There are rules, you can be disqualified... What gets you disqualified?
Barry Schwartz: 11:55:40 am
JC Penney got called out for spamming Google and it got dinged. But JC Penney is a real store and you trust them...
Brian Ussery: 11:56:09 am
Disqualified content:
- undisclosed relations
- non experts
- sweatshop
- slow
- aggressive promotion
- bad conduct
- unpopular

Blekko has the right to remove any result they want to remove
Barry Schwartz: 11:56:18 am
Rich is now done..I Guess Q&A Time...
Brian Ussery: 11:56:29 am
Blekko - Slash the web
Barry Schwartz: 11:56:52 am
Danny takes the podium
Brian Ussery: 11:56:54 am
Danny talking about spam and the recent up tick in low quality content...
Barry Schwartz: 11:56:55 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:57:19 am
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Barry Schwartz: 11:57:41 am
There is music playing in the background as Danny talks, no one know why...
Barry Schwartz: 11:58:46 am
Danny told Blekko, Good content doesn't have to be written by experts. NY Times is not an expert on search and they wrote about you.
Brian Ussery: 11:58:51 am
Danny suggests that media aren't experts so does blekko plan to purge anyone not an expert on subject matter at hand.

Rich says, great question...

Barry Schwartz: 11:58:53 am
Rich said there are exceptions...
Barry Schwartz: 11:59:14 am
There are fact checkers, editors, etc... but there are not that many of them...
Barry Schwartz: 11:59:51 am
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Brian Ussery: 12:00:03 pm
Exceptions like NYT because the went to journalism school and have a code.

I think he is saying that reputable services are ok
Brian Ussery: 12:01:22 pm
Danny: Why did you need to Wall Street Journal and Times to tell you about spam?

Brian Ussery: 12:02:10 pm
Matt: Says black hat is high risks
Brian Ussery: 12:03:09 pm
Danny: Do you suggest big brands buy links?

Matt:no

Danny what about Bing?

Sasi: paid links are mostly bad links

Brian Ussery: 12:04:21 pm
Sasi: Who knows if a link is paid?

Danny: I get emails all the time

Sasi: If it is paid, we will note it and watch it.
Brian Ussery: 12:05:14 pm
Rich: Seo is cool but it can be like a corruptive influence
Brian Ussery: 12:06:03 pm
Rich: when you start doing things to game the system you fail

Brian Ussery: 12:07:10 pm
Danny calling Rich out on stack exchange.

According to Rich everyone hates experts exchange...
Brian Ussery: 12:09:10 pm
Danny says Aaron Wall is on the phone and he is going to start SEOExchange.com :)
Barry Schwartz: 12:09:11 pm
Does Google have a whitelist?
Barry Schwartz: 12:09:24 pm
That was my question...
Barry Schwartz: 12:09:58 pm
Matt says they have an "exceptions" list to certain algorithms... So there are whitelists for certain classifiers
Barry Schwartz: 12:10:15 pm
But no global whitelist
Brian Ussery: 12:10:20 pm
Danny: Matt do you have a white list?

Matt: We have an exception list but no "Golden Bullet"
Brian Ussery: 12:11:16 pm
Matt: Try to do as much as you can via algo and then use human intervention. Then try to update algo for next iteration
Barry Schwartz: 12:12:01 pm
Bing has a list also
Barry Schwartz: 12:12:34 pm
The majority of the algos do not have exception links, like current Panda doesn't have an exception list
Brian Ussery: 12:12:45 pm
Sasi: no algo has 100% recall but when we have static overwrites these lists evolve...

Matt: Lots of algos like Panda have no exception log
Brian Ussery: 12:13:54 pm
Danny: we are seeing more and more affiliate links do those need to be nofollowed.

Matt: we know about most well know affiliate programs
Brian Ussery: 12:15:25 pm
Danny: Does Bing send notices? Why do you not tell everyone?

Matt: We tell people that go slightly off the path but we don't want to tip of more sophisticated spammers.
Brian Ussery: 12:16:40 pm
Danny: Can webmasters know if their site is blocked?

Matt: Maybe but we'd have to figure out the best way of doing this.

Blekko: We try to be transparent
 

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