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Health spam scams

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Is Google really doing enough at protecting searchers from bad health advise online? Some critics would argue that Google isn’t doing enough… especially when it comes to some sectors in the health industry such as physiotherapy. Google has long been criticized for failing to penalize spam sites on its search results and demoting good reputable sites. At the current moment the search results consist of either big brands or spam churn and burn websites with nothing in between. With people searching online for health advise some people may fall prey to the spam health snake oil after failing to find specifically what they are looking for (ie their exact symptoms) on one of the larger websites so then choose to sift through pages 2..3..4 where the spam is!

The way in which google relies on back links to rank sites is part of the problem, as Google is currently not putting enough weight on the quality of websites and relevant expertise of links coming from sites known for trusted health advise instead Google puts weight on high pr links with no connection to the health sector instead. Thus paves the way for spammers to be able to exploit this loop hole by creating spam sites and hacking other high pr websites to link to their spam site.

Simply creating a search engine though that ignores back links will not work as then it will simply be a race to creating software that produces content that is accepted by Google without any real human quality reporting that is achieved through back links and would result in a worsened situation where most of the search results would be just utter nonsense and based not on expertise or trust and more on who can create the most readable (or computer accepted) spam.

Searchers may also fall prey to online health product scams buying cheap products often made in china or products that are simply imitations from big retail websites that allow any one to sell on them and are trusted and rank highly on google despite all of this. These products maybe bought by unsuspecting people for health conditions and the products may not even work for them or may make things worse however these big websites may use product descriptions  which may say otherwise persuading them that they do really need the product but in actual fact they do not need the item at all.

Googles persistence to reward sites that are of high value to google (ie amazon and wikipedia) rather than specialist niche selling websites means that more and more people are buying items that are not right for their condition and simply will not work this is very prevalent in the physio sector.

In my opinion more needs to be done to help protect searchers from falling prey to these spammers scams!

Ommited results wrecking sites rankings

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Concerned business owners are facing a huge problem at the moment online.. the problem is Google! Google is actively destroying business online (with the motivation of driving more business to using adwords). One concerned website owner who owns a health website is being deindexded by Google thanks to spammers ripping off his content. Here is what he has to say.

“My main keywords have recently dropped overnight after a spammer has been re-posting sentences from our site onto spam websites.. How are they doing it? Well it is quite easy really

The process most likely used:

-Scrapebox with “site:” or xenu link sleuth to scrape list of urls of sites

-Then simply using a program (which there are many) you scrape content of those pages.

-With scraped content using sentence level spinning mash together sentences

-Inject links with chosen anchor text

-Using script automatically post gibberish to the hacked pages.

My sites content or rather should I say sentences from all the pages of my site are appearing on thousands upon thousands of hacked pages which has caused my main keyword not to become penalized but to disappear totally… After a bit of digging I was able to find my result after reaching the end of the search results and looking at the omitted results… my site was then in the same place it had always been.

This potentially means that you can get a site deindxed from google without even creating bad links or bad content.. just repeating the content that is on the site on thousands of other websites… causing it to be omitted from the result page. BECAUSE THE HACKER SPAMMER IS CONSTANTLY CREATING THIS GIBBERISH… GOOGLE may always omit my result even if they value mine as the original content new fresh duplicate spam gets created causing Google to push my result back into the omitted results whilst Google reevaluates everything.

Things to note
-Because things are done at sentence level, google may get confused and decided because so many of my sentences show up on the internet that I might be content stitching to create articles.
-When searching my brand name thousands of spam sites appear under my site. If google uses branding to establish authority in may connect my brand name with spam.
-There are far to many spam pages which are getting created each day for me to send dmcas.
-I know that my site is not considered spam because in the omitted results I am still in the same position and have not moved.”

Health scams on the web

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In my last post I discussed just how bigger problem snakeoil is online for the health industry with internet marketers posing as medical professionals and physiotherapists to cunningly persuade consumers to buy their products, and the problem is getting much worse with more and more illegal unlicensed pharmacy websites springing up selling fake and potentially dangerous drugs on the internet.

To gain traffic and customers these online pharmacy will use search engines to do so. Despite search engines such as google cracking down on spam and these kind of websites the spammers will use an exploit in the way search engines rank sites called churn and burn, which involves the spammers creating a quick new website which can easily be replaced and by spamming the website quickly often with hacked links from reputable websites means the illegal pharmacy website can quickly gain placement and visibility in the search results. Often the spammer will create thousands of illegal pharmacy website at a time with a simple press of a button. The idea of churn and burn is that if the website does get penalized or deindexed by the search engine it is quickly replaced. Spamming their Illgeal pharmacy websites to the top of search engine results is becoming more and more of a problem.

In other cases scammers will try to build a website which looks official and will naturally rank in the search engines and will not get penalized however they will usually have a blog full of bad health advise advising people that the only way to help cure their condition is through using or wearing their products which usually cost extortionate prices. With the crack down google and other search engines are doing on websites they deem as spam means that only the best websites that know a lot about internet marketing and seo can rank high and not real health experts. For example in the “physio” niche their is one company that has no real medical experts or real knowledge of physiotherapy and in actual fact runs another home improvements and DIY business as well which is dominant for high traffic physio and product keywords for instance “insoles” and “how to treat a broken leg” offering people their products claiming to be experts in the field of physiotherapy when in actual fact they are not. Because they have a well designed website with seemingly well written health advice (however most of what what they write is snake oil and just promotes their products at the end of the day) people believe them and buy their products. Looking at search engine traffic for their keywords it is evident that this physio website rakes in millions from selling products from insoles to knee supports. Their are other business also exploiting the physio world and trying to persuade people to buy their products with fake and generalized medical advise. It looks as though the problem is getting worse.

If you are looking for real medical advise then it is best to get it from medically qualified experts that know what they are talking about rather than knowing about seo and how to market their business. There are many that you can find out, for example I talked about physiotherapy above, well a good site I found was nuovahealth that is run qualified health experts rather than marketers.

Health Snakeoil on the internet

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If you were to search for any health related query on a search engine you will find that the results will be inundated by spam and snaekoil! For “high competition keywords” as internet marketers the health and well being of the person reading the snaekoil is of little concern to the spammers and scammers on the internet what matter to them most is how much profit they can get out of it.

One of the most abused niches in the health industry for snakeoil and the peddling of dangerous drugs is the “How to grow taller niche”. If you simple search “how to grow taller” in google at this moment you will be bombarded with site after site of dangerous information and lies. Many of the websites are affiliate websites ran by people with zero medical knowledge yet boast knowing the “medical secrets” of growing taller! Some of these scam website simply try to sell you a book on the subject that is often full up with obvious, generalized or freely available information that you can find elsewhere. There are some more sinister websites however that try to sell you illegal human growth hormone which can prove potentially lethal.

Another niche being exploited is the “insoles” niche the insoles niche is not as deadly as the how to grow taller niche but it still can leave consumers out of pocket. Disguised as physiotherapists online businesses are selling people insoles and other footcare products through inaccurate medical advise on their “blogs”.

More regulation most be done by the search engines to ensure people do not stumble on these scam websites.

Premium domain extortion

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If you have every tried setting up you own small business or even just a small personal website online getting a good name is really important, one that people can remember and one to build your brand on! Once you have thought a clever and ingenious name you will then need to register it…… but like many people you may find that your perfect name has already been grabbed but isnt being used by another actual website but rather has been parked, usually with a message somewhere telling people that they can buy this domain from somewhere between hundreds and thousands of dollars. The owner of this domain will own hundreds and thousands of what they call premium domains with no intention of actually using them but to try to extort money off people wanting to actually use them for their website/business. The amount of parked domains is so high, infact higher than the actual amount of real websites out there as domain brokers will  use computers that putt together related words.. phrases and even just letters to create hundreds of “premium domains” that one day they hope to sell for a profit to those needing that particular name. ICANN the body in charge of domains on the internet will do nothing to stop this situation after all they are profiting from all of this as the domains need to be continually registered year on year even though you can see how this can impact small business as they struggle to find a domain that matches their business name as domain brokers have already bought up all the combinations possible and are forcing people to instead buy the domain for sometimes in the thousands of dollars instead!

How to block ads

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Sick of all the annoying ads? Trying to watch something on youtube but you are constantly getting interrupted by freaky voiced people popping up trying to sell you something… You can do something about it…. Ad block edge.

If that one doesnt work there are various other ad blocking plugins that you can install onto your browser which will mean you dont have to worry about being exploited and used for commercial purposes!

There are many reason why you might want to block ads yes because they are annoying is one reason but also they can be manipulative. Take for example search engine ads which tend to push down normal search results down the page, the search engine ads are becoming harder and harder to actually tell if they are ads or not as sneaky (and greedy) search engines “blend” the ads into the search results, and as anyone can buy these ads at the top the search engines and if you click on them you will not be getting the best deals, prices or trusted companies. Many scam websites will use ads to promote and get traffic to their websites as it is does not require building trust and reputation that the normal search results do (SEO, require links that signify popularity and trust of a website from one site to the next which can take a long time to build and establish a website high up in the search results) so you are far more likely to being scammed with ads. Studies have also shown that ads prove to be the worst thing for consumers when choosing to buy something as only websites that can “afford” to bid high for the ads will show up this often then reflects in the cost of the product as well meaning the consumer doesn’t get the best deal and studies have shown this.
Another reason why you might want to block ads from diaplying is that that adverts can contain harmfull malware that can be atuomatically added to your computer via cookies or you may have seen trick ads that are commonly found on upload sites that are made to look like download buttons and when you click on the ads they start to download virsues to your computer.
Malware is bad for security and privacy but even non malware ads can be a threat to your privacy as they upload tracking cookies to your computer.

Not all adblocking plugins can be trusted, Adblocker plus for example is not the best one to go for because it does not block all ads and in fact gets paid by the likes of google not to block some of their ads (acceptable ads list)! They do have a option to turn off all ads completely but this is hidden away somewhere in there settings. It has to be noted that Adblock plus does have some guidelines that the ads must comply with to be accepted on the acceptable ads list. But many people will not realize this and this may further confuse people.. as if they presume they have turned off all ads yet the ads are still showing they may think that the ads are showing are not ads because they have adblocker plus turned on! The FTC in my opinion must look into this.

Adblock edge on the other hand is fast and does block all ads completely by default.

 

 

 

Anti trust case between google and the EU settled

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The anti trust settlement between Google and the EU has according to the chief of antitrust cases Joaquín Almunia says that it is pretty much done and  settled over at the EU as he deems the measures Google is taking are reasonable despite major criticism which pose a huge and strong argument against the planned changed which could ACTUALLY cause more exploitation of both consumers and retailers. The proposed changes will mean rival company’s can have branded links placed on google search results for a fee (begging the question as to what really makes this any different to an AD!)

Many are arguing that the planned changes would simply push organic search results even further down the page and after all it is the organic search results that searchers are looking for then why hasn’t the EU pushed for more visibility of these results? Many are speculating that something doesn’t seem right and all of this goes to show how the EU is against small businesses as they through out the case have emphasized that they are doing this for the consumers only  and not for competition which is what anti competition really focuses on but why can not the EU kill two birds with one stone and help drive traffic to small business through improving organic search results visibility and give what consumers need by providing unbiased and what they are looking for through the organic listings? But the EU chooses the option which only big business can afford, a branded paid listing on google which many businesses cannot take advantage of (even paid google ads are dominated by big businesses as only the biggest can spare the money to bid on ads). Something really does not seem right.. I smell something FISHY!

To me the only winners with the new planned changes to google are google themselves and those big brand businesses that can afford the extra charge to be displayed and not the consumers who will now just get more ads thrown in their faces rather than reliable and unbiased search results.

Google new layout design exploitative

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If you are wandering whether something changes about google’s layout of the search results then you would be right. Google has rolled out a update for all searchers to in cooperate a new design after months of tests and swapping between the new and old layout design.

The new layout has been created to be “clearer” and “easier” to read than the old one…. the changes induce a change in font size, removing the underlining of titles in the search results but the most important changes come to the ads by removing the color block from the ad section and reducing the line size which separates the ads from the rest of the listings means the ads are more blended into the organic listings which makes it very hard to tell what is a ad and what is not.

Here is a screenshot of the new layout:

new layout
it really is quite difficult to tell what is a ad and what is not

It is very important to clearly label what are ads and what are not on search engines otherwise it is a breach of law and exploits consumers, there is no doubt in my mind that these recent changes make it harder for users to tell what are ads and what are not… the ads maybe labeled as so with a small “ad” label but for the non tech savvy this could easily be misinterpreted as another odd button for instance some sort of social sharing button.

 

Lets hope anti trust laws take effect and get rid of this very exploitative layout.

Gettyimages now free to use

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It is common knowledge that a large chunk  gettyimages business model is based upon finding websites using their images without a license to do so, gettyimages victims are usually bloggers and website owners who never thought that grabbing a image off google image results could land them in such bother and sending them a email demanding money sometimes in thousands otherwise gettyimages will sue them.

GettyImages are now allowing people to embed watermarked images from their site onto your non commercial websites for free along as you are using the images for editorial purposes such as illustrating news reports and things of public interest only which some are arguing falls under fair usage anyway. The images maybe free to use for bloggers and those who want to post on social media websites but it does come at a cost as gettyimages say the only way to use their images is to use their embedded code and with this code gettyimages will advertise to your website audience by attaching ads onto the images with alos the possibility to track your website visitors as well. Gettyimages has added a piece to the terms of conditions that allows them to collect data and advertise using the embedded code on your site to advertise without compensating the website owner.

This is great for gettimages as it means that they are able to monetize images to people that would never have bought the images anyway but many are concerned that gettyimages of whom can change the terms and conditions at anytime which could mean gettyimages could go back to their old tactics of suing anyone using an unlicensed copy of their images (using bots trawling the internet to find victims) many people saying that getyyimages once enough people start using their images for free could then change the terms and conditions and in turn have a lot more victims to sue.

Another concern will be the fact that people usually will right click, save, share and add to their own websites these images that they find on other sites… this may cause tons of people to start using non embedded coded gettyimages from other sites without even realizing giving gettyimages a whole load of new people to sue for using their images.

 

 

 

US Domain scam

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There is a rising trend of using domains such as .us to create a word or phrase (often referred to as hack domains) such as meet.us even the official providers of the us domain extension neustar are using about.us to tell people more about the us domain extension, it is therefore easy to see why so many people will choose this domain without even thinking of the connection it has with the united states and are simply using it to create a trendy sounding domain name without even being from the US.  However it is against neustar’s policy for people to register a .us domain without actually being in the us or have any business in the us, but regardless of this fact that has seen many peoples domains being deleted without refund by neustar for being outside of the US even though upon registration this fact is not mentioned to them. Take for example godaddy auctions were plenty of .us domains are being auctioned off to the highest bidder but no mention that you could potentially loose the domain if you are not a us citizen or have business in the US. Neustar have even deleted domains that have cost buyers in auction thousands of dollars.

video.us is one of those domains that has been deleted because the owner was not a US citizen. In auction it was sold  for $75, 000 only for it to be deleted by neustar 10 months later. It was then available again and bought by a domain auctioneer, the domain then went up for auction yet again and sold for $18 500 but again neustar took action because the winner of the auction had no connection to the US, in both instances no refund was given. Neustar and the domain auctioneers were the only ones to gain whereas the winners both were servery out of pocket and no mention the risk that the domain could be taken away from you even after paying was mentioned on both occasions.

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t get a US domain especially if you are outside of the US!

-One of the conditions that Neustar has is that domains cannot have private whois, which in this day and age is needed as not having it can lead very private information such as your home phone number and address up for grabs for anyone to get hold of just through a simple whois search.

 

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