New form of SEO spam

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KYPREO
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New form of SEO spam

Post by KYPREO » Thu May 24, 2018 6:54 am

Hi

In the past few days, I've noticed a curious new form of spam accounts being set up in a very short period of time. I use Q&A as my primary spam protection. This has been largely effective in preventing spambot activity. I know a lot of the time on this board people dismiss the idea of human spammers, but on this occasion, I think they are human operators.

I've had a string of about 15-20 accounts opened - each corresponding with an actual local business in Australia. They open an account using a gmail address corresponding with the business name, then accurately fill out the profile form with the business name, location and forum URL visible. They don't post - they just open the account and leave. All of these accounts have been opened out of a single IP address in India (122.170.21.228). I have checked the website URLs and they are for legitimate business in Australian capital cities.

My working theory is that each of these business has engaged an SEO consultant to improve their search rankings and they have outsourced some work to India to create multiple forum accounts with reputable sites to create positive backlinks and improve their Google ranking and SERP performance.

This is certainly a new phenomenon to me - I've never seen it on my board in almost 20 years, but I'd be keen to hear people's thoughts and know if anyone has observed similar tactics.

My current strategy is to simply ban and deactivate the offending accounts (thereby removing the user profiles from the view of bots), but I'm of a mind to ring the businesses in question and give them a piece of my mind. :D
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KevC
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Re: New form of SEO spam

Post by KevC » Thu May 24, 2018 8:07 am

They've been doing that for years.
Some forum software allows guests to see the memberlist and profiles of accounts so they make the account, put all the info they need in like the site name, sig etc and that's it, job done. They then get indexed and get the back links they're looking for.

phpBB does not allow guests to see those pages by default so they aren't gaining anything. Just trash them. Banning is a bit pointless as they'll never come back to hit the ban restriction anyway.
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KYPREO
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Re: New form of SEO spam

Post by KYPREO » Fri May 25, 2018 4:33 am

KevC wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 8:07 am
They've been doing that for years.
Some forum software allows guests to see the memberlist and profiles of accounts so they make the account, put all the info they need in like the site name, sig etc and that's it, job done. They then get indexed and get the back links they're looking for.

phpBB does not allow guests to see those pages by default so they aren't gaining anything. Just trash them. Banning is a bit pointless as they'll never come back to hit the ban restriction anyway.
Thanks Kev. That reminds me to check permissions to ensure only registered users can view user profiles. It is a useless SEO strategy if the profiles are not able to be indexed by bots. Pretty sure Google has a fair idea about the quality of backlinks too, so I'm not sure this strategy would work anyway. From my reading, their algorithms focus on links from reputable sites that are content specific (eg a link to a useful forum topic on a particular subject) and not merely indexes.

I actually rang one of the businesses, as it was in my area, as a courtesy to let him know his business was being promoted in this fashion. He expressed surprise and was somewhat concerned. He clearly had no idea but did say he had a consultant working on SEO for him. I suspect this is how it has come about.
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