Search Engines And Referrer Spam

by Dave Curtis on January 31, 2016

Wow! Look How Many Visitors My Site Has! (Umm, Nope)

Google Analytics Report View 1

Google Analytics Report View 1

Referrer Spam is what you get when your business’ website is bombarded with visits from spambots. According to Tech Target:
“A spambot is a program designed to collect, or harvest, e-mail addresses from the Internet in order to build mailing lists for sending unsolicited e-mail, also known as spam. A spambot can gather e-mail addresses from Web sites, newsgroups, special-interest group (SIG) postings, and chat-room conversations.”

The second type of Spam Bot acts like a crawler/site-indexer similarly to what Google and Bing do. The only difference is that Google and Bing inform the site that they are search engines and the results don’t go into your analytics. Spam Bots referrer spam is traffic from bots that impersonate a referral link (a link on someone else’ site going back to your site) by sending out requests with a fabricated ‘Referrer” header. This fake backlink traffic is designed to make their site appear in your own analytics so that you’ll click on the link and visit their website.

There are two things you can do to minimize the kinds of damage spambots do. The first is to immediately upon creating your WordPress website install a plug in called Email Address Encoder, a lightweight plugin By Till Krüss (View details and download page) to protect email addresses from email-harvesting robots by encoding them into decimal and hexadecimal entities.

That will prevent the spam bots from grabbing your email addresses. Don’t wait until you’ve already put email addresses on your site though or they’ll already have been grabbed – these bots work fast.

Where your site visitors are really coming from

Where your site visitors are really coming from

Now for one OTHER kind of Referrer Bot – these claim to be search engines of sorts which crawl and index your entire site on a regular basis, and I used to have to manually remove them from my Google Analytics by modifying the server’s .htaccess file by writing code similar to this, which I borrowed from Dale Rodgers in the UK How to Block Semalt Referrer Spam article:


.htaccess code:

# Block Semalt related referrer spam
RewriteEngine On
Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?kambasoft.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?savetubevideo.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?semalt.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?embedle.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?extener.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?fbfreegifts.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?feedouble.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?musicprojectfoundation.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?myprintscreen.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?openfrost.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?openmediasoft.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?softomix.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?srecorder.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?videofrost.com [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?joinandplay.me [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?backgroundpictures.net [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?feedouble.net [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?softomix.net [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?videofrost.net [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?joingames.org [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?soundfrost.org [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?vapmedia.org [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?youtubedownload.org [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?zazagames.org [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?softomix.ru [NC, OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^([^.]+.)*?srecorder.com [NC]
RewriteRule .* - [F]

The list goes on and on and changes on a daily basis and for one person to manually update it is insane. There’s just no way. By the time you catch on to one and add it your results have been skewed already, plus a new one has come along to play with your analytics results.

Here’s a Choice of Two Other Plugins to use:

Either GM Block Bots or one that I have been using called Block Referer Spam (spelled wrong), which allows you to add in your own blocked sites.

A third type of Spam Bot is the “Ghost Referrer Bot”

These can’t be blocked by any plugin because they target Google’s analytics code directly and never hit your site – they just show up in the analytics itself. Bummer…

Here’s a nice infographic by Wiyre on how “ghost referral bot” spam generates revenue for the spammer.
There is a way to get rid of this too though, and below is a video by GreenMellen Media on how to make that happen:

It’s pretty easy to see that if your webmaster / “SEO” is handing you reports full of “WOW!” looking traffic but you’re getting all sorts of visits from Russia and China etc, that your numbers and perceptions will be confused. The above video will show SEOs how to carefully configure analytics directly to remove any ghost spam from showing up in the results.

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Additional Search Engine Optimization

by Dave Curtis on September 25, 2015

INTERNET PLACEMENT OPTIMIZATION FOR HIGHLY COMPETITIVE KEYWORDS, KEY PHRASES, AND SEARCHER INTENT

Ranking Your Site For The Long Haul

Getting to Number One In The Search Engines Over Time.

dave-curtis-seo-2Have you noticed so far that this SEO site is different from many that just load up the pages with quick bullet points and no explanations anywhere because they do not want you to know what they’re supposed to be doing? Operating under the theory that the less you know the better, what they don’t do that you don’t know about can’t hurt them. The best SEO sites are the ones that freely share information and inform both clients and SEOs. Cryptic and dubious claims of “Guaranteed first spot in Google” SEO sites are all over the internet, but it’s unethical to claim such things (particularly in an open statement without knowing the products or services that a client has built his or her site around) because to guarantee a first page ranking implies a special relationship with Google, and there are no such relationships.

The reason I take the time to explain what search engine optimization is about is because I read the books, follow the SEO news blogs, and use the same tools SEO industry experts use. I also study marketing, sales theory, psychology as it relates to web design and conversion/transaction, web analytics and a lot more on a daily basis (while simultaneously keeping up with client SEO work). There are constant Google Search Engine Algorithm rule changes, so my naming even one here now will make this post outdated by next year. Here are the names of a few recent huge SEO furor – some serious, some tempest in a teapot:

  • Google Hummingbird = nothing to worry about
  • Google Mobile Friendly Update = Mobile sites rewarded in mobile search with higher placement in the search results. If your site is about equal to five others that are mobile friendly, in mobile searches your site will be number 5 or 6.
  • Google Panda Update = Poor content quality sites, so “content, content” content” don’t just write to write, write to inform. 1000 pages of junk won’t do you anything but get you dropped.
  • Google Penguin Update = Spammy content, and purchased backlinks penalty.
  • Google (Carrier) Pigeon Update = algorithm to provide more useful, relevant and accurate local search results.
  • Google Payday Update(s) = various meanings and uses from:

    • Spammy sites (often injected malware sites with payday loans, viagra etc in them)
    • Spammy queries (typing into Google “Payday…” you won’t see “payday loans” as suggestions as much any more.
    • Used to penalize web sites that use spamdexing and Black Hat SEO techniques to improve rankings for terms considered to be “spammy” in nature.
  • Google Pirate Update =  penalizes sites deemed to be violating copyright laws, in other words stop copying and pasting content from other sites unless you’re an affiliate/authorized dealer and modify your copy.
  • Google EMD (Exact Match Domain) Update = buying a domain name that matches your product or what you do won’t matter if the content on the site still sucks.
  • Google Top Heavy Update = deals with too many ads at the top of a page.
  • Google Farmer Update = Copying manufacturers product descriptions – similar to Google Pirate Update in as much as that it is also a penalty for “scraped” (duplicate) content

While it isn’t possible for one SEO to update all content to comply strictly with each Google Update on every website he or she controls all of the time, it’s important to know which updates make it critical to update every site to avoid major negative ranking or Google index removal issues. The rest of the rules will apply to any and all new content written, as these are the ones that Google will crawl and find compatible or not.

Continual content optimization efforts require the use of a technique known as siloing. Social media sharing isn’t the only area that’s important, and creating content on Facebook is a mistake – it has got to be created on the business’ website, published, and then the link to that content has to be shared on the business’ Facebook page (not in the business owner’s personal timeline), and THEN shared from the business’ Facebook page TO the business owner’s Facebook timeline (a lesson I find almost impossible to teach to business owners, even after demonstrating the technique multiple times – which is why hiring an SEO is important).

Ongoing search optimization means long term. One to six months worth of content won’t get you much in the way of long term gains due to the way your own business’ greatest competition has way outstripped you by building thousands of pages of content over the past dozen years. Stealing content will likely get your site shut down by your own ISP starting in July 12th of 2012, and “Over SEOing” of your site will get you penalized by Google due to an algorithm. Be prepared for your sites to disappear if all you do is tell an SEO “Optimize my site” but don’t give him any content or listen to the SEOs professional advice about adding content, changing content, and paying for more work to help get (still) critical back links from other sites.

Press release sites, at one time if used correctly with the right content would give you a chance to place your business on the news pages of Yahoo News, Google News, MSN News and others, but the volume of self promoting spam grew to such proportions as more and more junior level “wanna be” SEOs abused the strategy of press releases, that now it’s virtually useless unless you have some real groundbreaking news to report, thus using press releases for back links no longer works as well as they once did, and you need to take a close look at that strategy. Some of the better known press release sites are http://www.prweb.com, http://www.prleap.com, www.free-press-release.com (none of which are free).

Ranking alone won’t convert visitors to purchasers as much as using consistency and good copy writing aimed at a targeted market. Search Engine copy writing (henceforth to be referred to as “copywriting” in this post) delivers advantages to your specific client of choice

You may think you want “everybody” to be your client, but trying to be everything to everyone doesn’t work. SEO, Copywriting and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) work together by taking copy writing (sales pitches) and optimizing them for the search engines, as well as possibly for Pay Per Click (if that proves to work for your product or service) and other forms of web advertising. Writing SEO copy is copy writing with the intent of the user of search engines in mind. It’s not being done for Google. Done artfully and with an understanding of marketing, a good SEO can turn great copy writing into SEO Marketing Copy (MARCO) for site conversions and transactions that will make you money. Watch and enjoy the two videos below from a few very well known professionals in the field of Search Engine Copywriting.

When your prospective new clients (who do not know your company name) search they first need to find your site. After they find it for your products and services that match what they are looking for these products and services must be presented in such a way that makes your site stand out distinctly. Your marketing copy (MARCO) must immediately point out the benefits of buying from you – and your offer must compelling enough to make them want to buy now. There are millions of people who search daily for the lowest price available and who target words like “cheap” and “free”. You don’t want to attract these people unless you’re a major high volume sales industry where high volume sales on short life span or viral “fad” goods make up for your low markup prices. Also keep in mind that high volume sales of ship-able goods has a cost in increased man hours, so unless you’ve got a drop shipping deal with a warehouse, you’re not going to get back what you expected. What you need to do is target your perfect client. Write for that person who walks calmly in the door and is interested in your product, wants to know why its good, and has enough money not to have to shop at the lowest price supermarket just because things are cheaper there. With properly marketed offers you can brand bundle benefits and advantages to increase transactions.

Write Like a Professional

Volumes have been written about what it takes to be a professional writer. There are, however, a few professional writing concepts that can — at least at some level — be described here, the common concepts of “audience,” “voice,” and “structure.” You can learn more about how to write product descriptions that sell and boost SEO efforts from Practical E-Commerce’s web site.

Call me, Dave Curtis at Brooksville Computer where I do SEO first and foremost, and web design second. I’m at (352) 232-1678. Call me now to discuss cutting a deal for your web site’s search engine optimization. Simply saying “SEO my web site” and overdoing on-site SEO keywording can be cheap or expensive, but not knowing about what your webmaster or SEO is actually doing – or whether or not they have the technical ability and knowledge to know what they’re doing may cost you the online end of your business entirely.

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Selling SEO is Easy, Getting SEO Truth Across? Not So Much.

September 11, 2015

Real SEO vs Promise You The Moon for a Song and a Dance In real SEO when dealing with clients who are technological neophytes, the Truth will kill a sale faster than a herd of rampaging rhinos squashing a gnat. They want to hear all kinds of mythological easy, instant, one click, make me a […]

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