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SEO revenge: analytics style

February 4, 2010 3 Comments

I gave a friend of a friend a bit of SEO advice and noticed google's cache of the site's pages - but not the pages themselves - had a link at the bottom that said "website development" with a link to a web development company (we'll call them company X).

The friend's friend didn't really understand what I was on about but it became clear company X had done a small bit of work on the existing design. And it appears they took the opportunity to go into the CMS templates and add this:

<?phpinclude"ipchecker.php";if(isGoogleBot()){echo '<div><a href="company X's website">Website development</a> ...

Yes, a bit of code that shows a link to Google but not to anyone else. A quick check in Yahoo Site Explorer showed up some more examples.

Now I don't know they did all this without their clients' permission, so I'm not outing them. But I figured someone there should know that we're on to them ...

So I'm running searches every time I get to a new computer for the following terms:

  • adding secret links clients site company X
  • cloaking company X
  • going to out you company X
  • links footer company X

all of which return one of their pages - and then I'm clicking through, hoping their analytics data will soon start to show these terms appearing ...

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  • Isn't that a form of "cloaking," which is against Google's terms of service? That could be hurting their (friend of a friend) SEO, don't you think? I know if I came across that I'd be furious. Just because you work on someone's site does not mean you can hide links in somebodies site.

  • William Vicary says:

    Yes it is a form of cloaking, if you serve Google something different to what you serve everyone else then you will run into problems with a penalisation!

  • Ed says:

    Just out the sneaky %^$$#&!, of course they don't have permission to do that, and if they have it's because they suckered/talked their clients into this.

    Some business could lose quite a bit of money if their pages suddenly starts dropping in the rankings, at least if you out them someone will point it out so they can fix the problem.

    Unless you condone the practice, there is absolutely no reason not to out them.

    "But I figured someone there should know that we're on to them ..."

    Big woop! - As if they even care, you already say you're not going to out them.

    At least inform their clients so they know what these scumbags did and then you're onto something Malcolm.

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