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Gaming Google a Gateway To Crime? 162

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the they-sure-piss-me-off-more dept.
netbuzz writes "Merely hiring a blackhat practitioner of search-engine optimization may be indicative of a willingness to 'cut corners' — the kind that land business executives behind bars — says Matt Cutts, Google's top cop regarding such matters. It's an interesting theory, as generalizations go, but there would seem to be quite a leap between risking the death penalty from Google and risking a stint in prison."
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Gaming Google a Gateway To Crime?

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  • by yagu (721525) * <yayaguNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:33PM (#21955300) Journal

    It's not even cutting corners, the Google guy is euphemistically describing "illegal" activity by Google's rules. And while SEO activities that break Google's rules aren't technically illegal other than sanctions brought by Google for getting caught I think Cutts makes an interesting and probably valid point.

    Just because something isn't codified into law doesn't make it ethical or right. Law can and will never model completely human behavior, nor should it. But outside of the law there are behaviors that demonstrate or point to probability someone would also break codified law. SEO like any other discipline has approaches that work and are within ethical boundaries. But it also, like any other, has approaches that are not okay.

    IMO it's about boundaries, and the ramifications when activity infringes on another's ability to freely engage in their own activity. Competition is one thing. Subverting a mechanism is quite another, especially when subversion comes at others' expense.

    As for the quasi-argument from the summary:

    there would seem to be quite a leap between risking the death penalty from Google and risking a stint in prison

    The whole MO of people like this is they don't think they're risking a stint in prison. They completely rationalize their behaviors beyond any reasonable state of self-denial. Watch some of the videos of the Enron depositions... these guys (IMO) truly believe their actions were within the bounds of legal activity. (Actually some probably were, the shame of the whole Enron scam is a lot of goats took the fall for the more powerful, though it was nice to see at least a couple of high level execs finally taken out.)

    • by canUbeleiveIT (787307) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:44PM (#21955470)
      Part of the problem is that, for some reason, it is seen as somehow more acceptable, perhaps even noble to cheat for the sake of one's company.

      I worked in a Fortune 100 retail environment for many years and was amazed at the moral lapses that seemingly otherwise upstanding managers would commit on behalf of the company. One manager in particular, who was particularly hard on shoplifters (always prosecuted no matter the amount) and employee pilfering, would routinely shave hours off of employees' timesheets. His "thefts" added up to thousands of dollars per month and he felt perfectly justified in doing it.

      • by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasma ... g minus caffeine> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @02:53PM (#21957666) Journal

        Part of the problem is that, for some reason, it is seen as somehow more acceptable, perhaps even noble to cheat for the sake of one's company.

        I'll bet you we see a lot more of this in the future, because internationalization has introduced an element of nationalism into the competitions between companies. Nationalism enables our tribalist ability to slaughter (i.e. rip off) any human who is from a different tribe. Wow will it be nice when genetic engineering allows us to remove the tribalism gene.

        Also, the middle-class is heavily involved in the stock market now, and companies are responding by becoming increasingly short-sighted. Short-sightedness means cutting corners and selling out the long run, as we know.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BakaHoushi (786009)
          This is why I hate the stock market with a passion.
          It's no longer about making money. Making money is the point of business and hey, that's just fine.
          But no, it's now about making MORE money.
          You can't be happy that you spent a million dollars and made a billion. Because you made 2 billion last year, so you should have made at least THREE billion.
          The stock market and its investors tend to, I've noticed, ignore the concept of averages. Sometimes, a store will do better than average. Sometimes, it will do wors


          • No - it's never good enough to make a lot of money, if it's the same amount of money as in the past.

            The word that describes the issue is "growth". Growth is what drives the stock market. If a company is not growing, it's stock price goes down. Stock prices are based on future earnings. If the future does not include growth, a company is in trouble with their real customers - stockholders.

            The result of this is that companies are insane about growth. And there are some (many) who will lie, cheat, and ste
        • by doom (14564)

          I'll bet you we see a lot more of this in the future, because internationalization has introduced an element of nationalism into the competitions between companies. Nationalism enables our tribalist ability to slaughter (i.e. rip off) any human who is from a different tribe.

          I think that calling this "nationalism" is to give it too much credit... it's more like a retreat to a medieval attitude, a worship of the divine right of your local warlord. There's this general sense that whatever Big Corporation wa

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by blahplusplus (757119)
          "The middle-class is heavily involved in the stock market now."

          The stock market was always a form of usury gambling, and ownership control over key assets and a way for them to increase their wealth exponentially, and also way for the upper classes to offload risk onto the middle and lower classes. The whole idea of investment is fucked up to begin with. Gaining money without working for it through ownership loopholes (i.e. 'passive income') which offloads risk onto other people (i.e. the workers working
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Blymie (231220) *

      You certainly touched on it and I'll add my bit here, focusing entirely and only on that last sentence fragment.

      The entire logic and reasoning behind that fragment is quite questionable. Frankly, I have to wonder about the character of the person that wrote it. To them, it would appear, the only reason people do not do wrong things, is because they are afraid of the ramifications of their actions. Put another way, the logic of that sentence fragment states that the only reason people do not slit your thr
      • by kevin_conaway (585204) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:11PM (#21955886) Homepage

        A person with true moral fiber does not act based upon the laws, but acts based upon his code of ethics at all times. For example, it is clear that beating the living tar out of someone that just viciously beat and stole a purse from an old woman, is a very moral act

        Thats actually not clear at all.

        • by Tim C (15259) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:35PM (#21956266)
          That's exactly what I was going to say - that's not clearly moral at all, that's simply revenge. It's the attractiveness of that sort of response that is part of the reason why we have laws, to stop people simply dishing out whatever punishment seems fit at the time.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by billcopc (196330)
            How is revenge any worse than the arbitrary punishment decided in a courtroom or municipal office ? The same wackos, who would beat the "living tar" out of someone over petty theft, are also in offices writing the policies. Just because someone works for the city doesn't magically make them less prone to emotion and irrational behavior.
            • by mcpkaaos (449561) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @02:57PM (#21957748)
              How is revenge any worse than the arbitrary punishment decided in a courtroom or municipal office ?

              It isn't about revenge. The hope is that the system will try to rehabilitate. Revenge only teaches a criminal to be more careful and/or armed.
              • by Tim C (15259)

                Revenge only teaches a criminal to be more careful and/or armed.
                It also teaches "Do unto others first" - then there's no-one to extract revenge.
                • by mcpkaaos (449561)
                  It also teaches "Do unto others first"

                  I think you might have revenge confused with assault.
              • by novakyu (636495)

                It isn't about revenge. The hope is that the system will try to rehabilitate.
                Which is exactly why we have death sentence. I have seen so many people miss this point. When we find a criminal that we can't humanly rehabilitate ourselves, we send him to God to do it right. Capital punishment simply quickens the divine rehabilitation program.
                • by jacquesm (154384)
                  yeah... and as every true believer knows nobody ever got sentenced to death that didn't deserve it...
                  You do realize there is no 'undo' button on the electric chair do you ? Of course by your reasoning it's all gods will anyway, even when somebody is sentenced to death when he/she shouldn't have been.
                • by mcpkaaos (449561)
                  We need the death penalty like we need more stupid people.
              • "Revenge only teaches a criminal to be more careful and/or armed."

                This wholly depends on the context, if someone tried to rip you off and you killed them, then that's 1 less criminal in the world. The truth is we have become too compassionate in many regards and criminals become a drain on the economy by having to pay for them.

                There was a reason our ancestors killed off criminaals because they knew it was a waste of time nad resources to 'rehabilitate' people who's nature's are fundamentally criminal to be
            • How is revenge any worse than the arbitrary punishment decided in a courtroom or municipal office ?

              Three things:

              1.) Everybody has differing ideas about what a punishment for revenge should be. I'll give you an extreme example. I know somebody who was pissed off at somebody else for logging into his MySpace page and wiping out a bunch of pictures. He thought a fair revenge was to call the cops and try to have the guy busted for drug use. If that had worked (and thankfully it didn't) the 'punishment' for this guy's wrong-doing could have been jail-time. Bit excessive, don'tcha think? Well, when peop

            • by version5 (540999)

              How is revenge any worse than the arbitrary punishment decided in a courtroom or municipal office?

              When people are given the opportunity to take revenge, their response is often way out of proportion to the crime. Because there is something about being victimized that makes the victim no longer see the victimizer as fully human, someone who hasn't been victimized is more likely to be fair. I know it sounds magical, but its true. Judges don't decide punishments in the same way that someone taking revenge, be

            • by Tim C (15259)
              Oh, so many points...

              1) the "punishment decided in a courtroom or municipal office" isn't arbitrary, it's according to the guidelines that were (hopefully) set out following decades/centuries of experience

              2) many of said whackos aren't in office - one would hope that such offices are held by people of rather more considered temperament. Certainly here in the UK witness the number of times that the tabloid press laments an apparently lenient sentence (often) versus a harsh one (never that I can remember in 3
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by argiedot (1035754)
        In fact, on Kohlberg's Moral Ladder [wikipedia.org], that would be the way a small child would think. A simple attempt to minimise punishment and maximise reward which does not involve any thought of right or wrong outside the thought of the consequences to the person doing the act. Level I - Preconventional, that is.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by J0nne (924579)

        For example, it is clear that beating the living tar out of someone that just viciously beat and stole a purse from an old woman, is a very moral act.
        I have my doubts on this one...
        • by Blymie (231220) *
          Really? Why do you have doubts? What are your doubts?

          It is interesting that when I spoke of morals and law, almost everyone responded about how the legal system was intended to mitigate revenge, or how the act spoken of above was an act of revenge, and on and on. However, absolutely no direct moralizing was done on that specific act.

          Morals exist in parallel with the law. Law tries to be moral, but only succeeds by chance. It's too arbitrarily stated, to broad to truly be moral.. and some laws are indee
          • Beating the tar out of someone =! killing them, or leaving them for dead

            It's not uncommon for there to be a story on the news about someone who's died or suffered massive head trauma after being punched in the face once (usually outside a bar). Never underestimate the damage that can be caused by someone falling and hitting their head on pavement. Letting the courts decide on the punishment makes it much less likely the perpetrator will come to unintended harm (although our prison system isn't exactly perfect).

            Also, you speak as if morals are an absolute truth, shared by ev

    • > Law can and will never model completely human behavior, nor should it.

      That's because laws can never precisely describe "intent", only "action."
      i.e. You can follow the laws to the letter, and still act unethically.

      That's why laws are open to interpretation to determine the "spirit of the law." For every law, you can almost always think of an exception in a special circumstance.
    • I think it makes some sense, try thinking of it as "breaking rules". Google has a set of rules about proper search engine optimization. Some of these rules might not be well documented but people generally know when they're trying to get around them or cheat them.

      Any success in breaking Google's rules could result in increased profits from a higher pagerank giving the rule breaker a sense that it pays to cheat. So why not cheat somewhere else with another set of breakable rules? Taxes? Mortgages?
      • by Nullav (1053766)
        Ah, but there's still the 'risk versus benefit' part; if you cheat Google for a spike in ad revenue and get caught, you'll get bitchslapped a few pages down and make less money, but it isn't the end of the world. On the other hand, if you screw up when trying to minimize taxes, you're could be in deep shit.
        Not to say that success as an SEO couldn't encourage branching out into other, more ilicit fields, but spending $10/year on a domain and $40/year on a cheap host, then plastering a page with ads and gamin
      • Search engines are supposed to tell people what pages are interesting and relevant on specific topics. Since we don't yet have AIs that can actually tell what's interesting, they use robots to search for pages that have patterns that generally correlate with interestingness and relevance, and show the people the more interesting pages first.
        • About 1% of the SEO job is to make sure that the robots can find your web pages and access the relevant patterns, which is called "RTFM", and is useful for customers
    • by kalirion (728907)
      Wouldn't this be similar to a casino claiming that card counters are more likely to commit crimes?
    • by brunes69 (86786)

      Just because something isn't codified into law doesn't make it ethical or right.

      How true. Also true is the opposite, just because something IS codified into law doesn't make it unethical or wrong. Bring forth the DMCA.

  • Suprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:34PM (#21955328) Journal
    People who are anti-social, who attempt to game the system for their own gain at our expense, are known to engage in other anti-social acts to bring about their own gain at others expense.

    What a surprise.

    How about, "People who don't think about what larger effect their actions will have are amoral, while people who recognize that their actions will have larger, detrimental effects on others and still engage in those actions are evil."

    People behave according to their character.
    • by Eudial (590661)

      How about, "People who don't think about what larger effect their actions will have are amoral, while people who recognize that their actions will have larger, detrimental effects on others and still engage in those actions are evil."

      How about "People who don't think abou the larger effects their actions will have are reckless, while people who recognize that their actions will have larger, detrimental effects on others and still engage in those actions are moral, immoral or amoral, depending on whether the

      • How about "People who don't think about the larger effects their actions will have are reckless, while people who recognize that their actions will have larger, detrimental effects on others and still engage in those actions are moral, immoral or amoral, depending on whether they think it is right, wrong or neither, respectively."

        Right. They "accidentally" went to a black hat SEO to push up their site rank.

        More abstractly, there is a difference between being reckless, which involves jeopardizing you
    • by Geoff (968)

      People who are anti-social, who attempt to game the system for their own gain at our expense, are known to engage in other anti-social acts to bring about their own gain at others expense.

      I was going to say something like that. But you said it much better than I was going to, so I'll just say "Bravo" and "Ditto."

  • by garcia (6573) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:35PM (#21955344) Homepage
    From the article's quotation of Cutts:

    Can I definitively claim that there's a connection between a willingness to embrace blackhat SEO and a willingness to cut corners in other areas of business? No, of course not.

    So in other words, he's drawing a conclusion based on one (or a handful, who knows) of cases and then this particular author made a story out of it and Slashdot picked it up?

    Yeah, non-issue; move along.
    • It *is* an issue (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @02:03PM (#21956800) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, non-issue; move along

      The mere fact that Cutts can't prove definitively that there is a correlation between use of blackhat SEO techniques and cutting corners in other areas doesn't mean that his statement is without merit. Anecdotal evidence has shown me that in the business world if you cut corners in one place, you're likely to do the same in others. Hire undocumented workers. Pay people under the table. Don't divulge some earnings. Mix your personal and business accounts. Tarnish other businesses with innuendo. Hire a blackhat SEO specialist.

      I think it is important to recognize that SEO is in the mainstream of most big business operations these days, and it is no longer appropriate to think of blackhat SEO as just a "geek topic." It's a front and center business ethics issue.

  • Makes sense to me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:40PM (#21955416) Homepage
    Not as much as an indication of willingness to commit crime as general untrustworthiness.

    If you are willing to pretend you are something you are not to the search engines (which is basically what black hat SEO consists of) in order to lure customers to your site, there is a good chance you are willing to do something similar to the customers in order to ensure a sale.

  • Who doesn't want free advertising? Any good webmaster knows how to work Google at least a LITTLE...are we all crooks now?
    • by Bryansix (761547)
      Google is interesting because they pay more attention to the content instead of the Meta tags or other information. If you purposefuly try to trick visitors into coming to your website by putting up words that have nothing to do with the actual content of your website then you are a crook a liar and a cheat. The correct way to do SEO is to make the content of your website more obvious to search engines. In other words, pages should be descriptive and contain the phrases that relate to the content of that pa
  • Clearly netbuzz and Taco know all about cutting corners, especially in writing and checking summaries...
  • by Syncerus (213609) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:56PM (#21955686)
    It's funny how Google sounds more and more like Microsoft as time goes by ...

  • by the_skywise (189793) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:07PM (#21955820)
    Father: "Why are you gaming Google to get your myspace page to the top of the list? Where did you learn to do that, huh?!"
    Kid: "YOU, alright! I learned it from watching you!"
  • new york city was a cesspool of crime. the era of bernie goetz and vigilante justice, the guardian angels, etc.: traditional law enforcement was failing

    now, new york city just recorded its lowest yearly count of murders since they started counting. real estate values are soaring in previously bombed out blighted neighborhoods

    and people have thought alot about the philosophies during the 90s that helped clean up the city, and two stand out:

    1. compstat. computerized, statistical analysis of crime trends, up t
    • so i think that this theory about SEO seeking types indicative of worse behavior is actually quite true.

      Well, I wouldn't equate the two quite so strongly. Gaming a system is one thing, violent crimes are another.

      However, there are reasons why people game the system. In a search engine like google, new web sites are at a distinct disadvantage to older, more established web sites. Olde web sites have longer histories, have more links back to them, are more "poplar", etc than newer sites. The barrier t
      • by jmauro (32523)
        I believe the original article refered to "black-hat" SEO operators. Which are the ones that would specificly break into other sites to cross-link and increase the ranking on Google. It's the breaking in and not so much the optimization that is the indicator for future illegality.
      • by dintech (998802)
        A high page rank is valuable since it could be considered as a scarce and precious resource that is chosen as an investment by Google. The quality of their search results directly affects their profitability. So in my view, gaming a search engine is similar to creative presentation of company accounts and companies that practice one are perhaps similar in some respects to Enron or Worldcom.

        So, I would equate the two. They are just two different levels of deceiving a person or organisation into investing ti
    • and people have thought alot about the philosophies during the 90s that helped clean up the city, and two stand out:

      1. compstat. computerized, statistical analysis of crime trends, up to the minute, down to the apartment building and block. this allowed the police brass to stay ahead of trends tactically

      2. the broken window theory. which is the point of this entire comment:

      Funny, I recently read a book, which stated that the explosion of the prison population and the large number of abortions 20 years earl
  • "Merely hiring a blackhat practitioner of search-engine optimization may be indicative of a willingness "cut corners"
    Should read: "Merely hiring a blackhat practitioner of search-engine optimization may be indicative of a willingness to'cut corners' ... "

    I guess the summary decided to join in on the corner cutting...
  • by RandoX (828285) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:16PM (#21955932)
    You wouldn't steal a car...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You wouldn't steal a car...
      I would if I could fucking download one.
      • Holy Mack, Star Trek was right.

        "I have a 3-d industrial form pattern-molder and 7,000 pounds of steel. Now all I have to do is download the pattern..."

        leads to

        "Materials Economics don't work that way anymore - that's what Replicators are for."
    • by Bryansix (761547)
      No, but what if I could make a copy of that car for free? Now I have a car and you have a car and everybody is happy. Except maybe the car company who sells less cars (or so they think).
  • How do the tagging system work and pick tags to use anyway? In this article, the tag chewbeccadefense [sic] isn't even spelled right!
    Did hundreds or dozens of Slashdotters not know how to spell Chewbacca? Sounds pretty much impossible, given the kind of crowd.

    Surely there must be some other explanation? *shrug*
    • Woohoo, I've had a gripe about tagging for a while but I didn't want to post off topic. Since you already started the thread and since the article is about shady Web practices, here goes.

      1) Slashdot's tags are obviously manipulated. I don't bother to tag anymore because I know that the only ones that show up are from people with bots or some other scheme with the ability to promote any bizarre tag they think up.

      2) Tags that pass judgement on the article, rather than merely classifying it, are the lowest f
      • by Blakey Rat (99501)
        Dude, you're taking the whole thing way too seriously. If they renamed the feature "zingers" instead of "tags" would you be happy? (Slashdot: If you do that, pay me money.)
  • ... that answers my question [slashdot.org].
  • by Venik (915777) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:23PM (#21956042)
    Matt Marlon of Traffic Power was arrested for running a mortgage scam, not for breaking Google rules for SEO. Cutts is just using this to push his agenda. God help us all if some other SEO boss gets arrested for shoplifting or grand theft auto.
    • Matt Marlon of Traffic Power was arrested for running a mortgage scam, not for [...]

      Yes. Exactly. But that just furthers his POINT, Venik. Black hat SEO is just another scam, albeit one that is not illegal. Unethical, but not illegal.

      It does not surprise me in the least that someone involved in black hat SEO was also involved in outright criminal activity. Loose ethics are loose ethics, no matter the business.

      A side note to other posters... please keep in mind, guys: standard, ethical SEO and black hat SEO are NOT the same. Neither he nor I are talking about all-- or even most-- SEO

      • by Venik (915777)
        Yes exactly what? Marlon was arrested for something unrelated to SEO. If an owner of an adult book store gets arrested for tax evasion, would you see this as proof that adult book stores are unethical?
  • If it were such a thing as a perfect search engine given some words/description it would retrieve the sites on the topic (quite subjective concept) ordered by "relevancy" (highly subjective concept). Such a perfect engine would simply ignore changes made by SEOs for these are hardly making the content of a page more "relevant".

    In this optic people exploiting google's deficiencies are just giving google the chance to make their algorithms better... and being better is how the become #1 after all.

    I'm pr
    • by jacquesm (154384)
      Second that. If the google code jockeys would be doing their jobs Matt Cutts would be out of one.
      Correlation != causation.
  • quite a leap between risking the death penalty from Google and risking a stint in prison.

    Might I suggest you put "death penalty" in quotes?

    I don't think Google wields quite that much power, at least not yet, and it's a very confusing sentence with an opposite meaning until the metaphor part kicks in.
    • It's kinda obvious that it's humor, but it still was annoying when I Googled for my name and the only result I got back was "He's Dead, Jim!".
  • Google (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jorghis (1000092) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:28PM (#21956136)
    Oh come on now, how much of a fanboy do you have to be to think that modifying your own web pages in a way you see fit is equivalent to committing a crime because Google doesnt like it? Google has no right to tell people what they can and cant do on the internet, they are not the law. Doing something they dont like is not equivalent to breaking the law. If their algorithm doesnt handle other people's websites doing certain things very well they should fix their algorithm, not demand that everyone play by their rules and design their websites in a way which doesnt mess up their algorithm.

    I know that a lot of the things they push may be in the best interests of the tech industry but at the same time it doesnt seem right that they have anointed themselves as the police and lawmakers of the internet. (how many lobbyists do they have again trying to get laws written which are friendly to them?)
    • Google's algorithms have a pretty straightforward objective - use a herd of dumb robots to feed algorithms to identify pages that humans will find interesting and displaying the most relevant ones first. If you want to make it easy for the robots to find your web pages, they've got a set of rules for how to mark them.

      SEOs have a pretty straightforward objective as well - take customers' websites that aren't actually interesting or relevant to humans and lie to the robots so the robots will give the page a

      • Oh please. Google is just a search engine. They're not the thought police of the internet. People can do with their own websites whatever the hell they like, including discriminating robots from humans, and paying others to remodel. Just as you as a websurfer can do whatever the hell you like with your own browser, including using filtering software to hide ads.

        You sound like for you Google is the end-all and be-all of algorithmic searching. That's fanboyism pure and simple. Check out some other search en

    • by novakyu (636495)

      Oh come on now, how much of a fanboy do you have to be to think that modifying your own web pages in a way you see fit is equivalent to committing a crime because Google doesnt like it?

      Well, the thing is, Google search "optimization" does not only involve your own website, but other websites as well. I don't know exact what Google's ToS says, but I do remember that the mother-of-all Google search "optimization" was Google bomb---in fact, being immune from simple keyword flooding was what made Google so effective early on.

      And for the Google "bombs" of the commercial sort to support, these black hats have to place lots of links around the web. These show up as comment spam, link spam on Wi

      • by jorghis (1000092)
        The wiki spam is kind of a corner case though. Much more common is placing links on sites that you own to sites that you want to optimize, using "invisible" keywords in the website text, showing different text to bots than human readers, etc. The vast majority of the so called "black hat" stuff involves modifying only your own website(s).
  • First your boss asks you to cram in some keywords, then "borrow" some images, and then create "just a few hundred brand awareness" sites.

    Eventually it becomes "please remove the copyright info from this jscript", then send an email to this "single opt-in" list of 10 million addresses, and lastly "Can you use an Ess Que El injecion to insert our website address in other people's sites?".

    One big slippery slope to crackersville.
  • I read the summary twice and still have no idea what it's about. It just isn't parsing for me.
  • 'If you manipulate our (overvalued) services, you're a bad person who's probably going to do much worse things.' Sounds like a DARE cop talking to a bunch of schoolkids. True? Maybe. Even if it wasn't he'd be saying the exact same things.
  • by theodp (442580) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:43PM (#21956424)
    From Corporate Profits Take an Offshore Vacation [commondreams.org]: Google similarly set up an Irish subsidiary, Google Ireland Holdings Ltd, which in 2004, its first year, helped the company avoid paying about 131 million dollars in U.S. taxes. Google noted in its annual report that year that it expected its effective tax rate to drop even more significantly. It explained, "This is primarily because proportionately more of earnings in 2005 compared to 2004 are expected to be recognised by our Irish subsidiary, and such earnings are taxed at a lower statutory tax rate (12.5 percent) than in the U.S. (35 percent)."
  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:45PM (#21956476) Homepage
    The amusing part is that if Microsoft or Sony said 'breaking our rules indicates a tendency towards criminal behavior'... The replies would be filled with flames and laughter.
     
    But it's Google, so they get a pass and people take them almost seriously.
    • by glwtta (532858)
      Yeah, it's weird. It's almost as if someone's past behavior influences how people respond to them. It's madness, I know.
    • And that's why over half of the posts are about what Google's doing in China.
    • by TempeTerra (83076)
      I appreciate your point, but the difference with SEO is that rather than merely ripping off a big company you're also peeing in everyone's pool by tainting the search results. This indicates a mindset with little regard for their peers.

      This is tangentially related to my current hypothesis that the health of a society can be measured by how strangers are treated.
  • Manipulate Google today, doing drive-bys and selling crack tomorrow...

    It's just like caffeine is a gateway drug for meth addiction.

    I expect a whole new government agency and "War on " campaign soon.
  • A, ah, friend of mine works for a company that's thinking about hiring an SEO company. What's the best way to distinguish the black hat from the white hat ones?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by billstewart (78916)
      • If the consultant says "You should really just RTFM, but if you're not technical enough to do that, or don't know if the web page design tools you're using implemented it correctly, you can hire me to do an audit", that's reasonable. It's probably not worth paying much money for, and the consultant shouldn't be charging you very much, and there are a number of web sites [googleguide.com] and books that'll help you get up to speed; it's really not very hard.
      • If the consultant says "Search Engines try to find pages that are i
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv@PASCALgmail.com minus language> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @02:17PM (#21957064) Homepage
    The "gateway crime" theory is way overused. It's true dishonest people do dishonest things. The question is, did gaming the search engine come first, did cooking the books come first, or are the people involved simply dishonest to begin with and it doesn't matter which one they did first, they'll just do anything to make a buck. I'm betting the last one rings true in this and most other situations.

    The same holds true for marijuana as a gateway drug. People think that taking marijuana almost always leads to harder drugs. That's simply not true. The fact that someone jumps from mary jane to cocaine does happen, but it has nothing to do with the drug, but the person using it. Just like people continue to think "prostitution" is a gateway crime and therefore want laws strictly enforced. If government would simply make it legal and regulate it, crimes tied to prostitution would be drastically reduced, but that would require going against the moral majority and thinking outside the box.

    If you are willing to do one dishonest and illegal thing (and do it with no remorse), you are likely to do others (i.e. correlation). It all has to do with the morals of the person committing the act. The article doesn't say much but it makes sense in all other areas. But stop calling it "Gateway crime," I'm sick of that label because it implies causation and leads to stupid crime prevention policies.
  • Although I don't disagree at a high-level with Matt, this is also a bit of a stretch. The way I see it, Google's algorithm is far from perfect. All too often, I search for something and get results back from web sites that don't deserve to be at the top of the list but are not necessarily doing any kind of black-hat SEO. For whatever reason, Google incorrectly bestows traffic (and therefore revenue) to these sites that appear at the top. So would you blame someone who has a better web site from "pushing t
  • Since we run a system for filtering bottom-feeders out of search results [sitetruth.com], I've had to look at this issue.

    One of the basic requirements of SiteTruth is that a web site that's selling or promoting something must have an identifiable name and address on the web site. A "contact us" form isn't good enough. Legitimate sites selling something usually have a valid name and address on the site. Commercial sites without business names and addresses are generally "bottom-feeders". They may or may not be fraudul

    • by jacquesm (154384)
      you are missing one thing I think. Websites and businesses are not the same thing.
      If google wants to improve the quality of the content they could do a very simple thing, stop linking to *any* commercial webpage. It would be pretty drastic, but I guarantee you that without ad revenues, off-site links to be sold and commerce to be conducted on the pages that google links to SEO spam would drop to 0 overnight. After all, the only people that are willing to invest in SEO are the people that expect it to make t
  • It all started quite innocently. I was working for a basically nothing small company that's primary business was analog/digital converters. It was the beginning of the Internet revolution then and we were watching it pass by us. One day the boss came into my office and ordered me to game the corporate webpages to increase our hit rate. I held out for as long as I could, but a man has to eat, doesn't he? Reluctantly I agreed. For me, that was the beginning of the end.

    Not long after that, I began taking

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