Search spam, using techniques that manipulate the search results, feels like it is getting more dangerous every day. Some search spammers go as far as hacking sites to inject link spam into unsuspecting web pages. And some go even further by polluting the search results with nasty malware.
Yesterday we covered a story about a serious malware issue in the search engines, where hundreds of pages were being returned by Google, Yahoo, Live and other search engines that contained harmful malware. Today, a WebmasterWorld thread pointed me to Spammers hack Al Gore’s climate site from Vnunet. In the Al Gore example, hackers used a WordPress loophole to inject links into the source code of the site, which were invisible to normal users but very visible to search engines.
Vikram Thakur, of Symantec’s security response team, said:
The fact that Al Gore’s site got hacked or compromised, while definitely of significance, uncovers a much bigger technique now being used by spammers. We have seen the spammers go from comment spamming to hacking WordPress, to injecting links, to getting top listing on the search engine results, to marketing pharmaceutical sites through a large network of interwoven links.
This is not something new. In fact, this happen to a client of mine and I reported all the details with my two piece article, Jennifer Convertibles Web Site Hacked & Delisted In Google.com and Jennifer Convertibles Web Site Back in Google, at Search Engine Roundtable. In that example, the Jennifer Convertibles site was hacked into, and thousands of pages on the domain were injected with links to spam sites. After months of no one picking up on it, Google delisted the site completely to protect their index.
It took months, yes.
Which brings me to the problem we covered yesterday. An update from ComputerWorld tells us Google expunged the malware sites from its search results. Great, but as I noted this morning at the Search Engine Roundtable that I believe we reported the issue back in early September. It remained to be a problem until yesterday because the main press did not pick up on it until yesterday. Of course, I can be wrong and this can be a totally unrelated issue from what we reported back in September.
As the search landscape becomes more competitive, it is natural for some players to take more extreme measures to achieve their goals. Some might go as far to put people in harm’s way just to achieve those goals.