Google Exploit Used To Trash Companies

from the interesting... dept

It’s no secret that plenty of folks have figured out ways to game Google listings. There seem to be new stories every week about how this or that scam is used to boost up someone’s Google rankings. However, Kevin (from Sneakemail, I’m assuming) writes in with an interesting one that I hadn’t seen before. Sneakemail, one of the first services that let people set up disposable email addresses, noticed that if someone did a Google search for their name, one of the results that popped up showed text (on Google) that suggested the BBC and PC World had trashed them for security flaws – something that isn’t true at all. If you click through on the link, it redirects people to the site’s front page where it’s selling some anti-spam software. Clearly, this is a case where the person selling the software is specifically lying about a sort-of competitor to get more traffic. This is different than just getting yourself linked by buying trademarked terms, which I don’t have a problem with. This is outright lying about your competition to influence purchase decisions.

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Comments on “Google Exploit Used To Trash Companies”

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1 Comment
jburst says:

Use wget to see the page Google is indexing

The scumbag page in question is sending different pages based on user agent. If you request it using wget, you’ll see the original page, but any other User-Agent header seems to return the redirect page.


(or use the http slurper of your choice with a user agent of “Wget/1.8.2”)

I tried faking googlebot, but it just returns the redirect page — could be they’re checking for requests from Google’s IP space.

This brings up the interesting issue of sites which tailor results specifically to search engines, but show completely different pages to regular users. Requests from Google get shown a “tailored” page specifically engineered to increase their page rank, but when anyone else requests the page they get the regular text. Could this be construed as fraud?

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