Design & Publishing . / . WEB . / . Rip-Off . / . Search Engine Spam

Twas the Night before Christmas
A Horror Story about Spam

There's a new search engine on the Web, designed for the consumer who wants to find businesses, products and services in any one of almost 34,000 neighborhoods in the United States. Did I say "neighborhoods"? Wow!

What's more this search engine has "eliminated the clutter caused by personal pages and duplicate results." They "have also ferreted-out those annoying keyword spammers who fool most search engines by making their site seem more relevant to your needs than they really are." In short they're promising a shop till you drop site! - quotation from their own page:

If all this hype sounds too good to be true, it is. This story has to do with how LocalEyes (the fine folks quoted above) either by accident or design managed to get the word out about their wonderful new "flagship product."

LocalEyes decided their "flagship product" was so valuable, so important, they created more than 69,000 pages celebrating those 34,000 neighborhoods and told AltaVista, Excite and other search engines where they could find them. It must have been a lot of work, creating those many pages because when the people at LocalEyes got done they were soooo tired they must have forgotten to write a robots.txt file which would have instructed AltaVista's and Excite's crawler not to catalog all 69,000 pages.

Along came Scooter (AltaVista's cute little name for their web crawler), it didn't find a robots.txt file containing instructions so it sucked up all the documents located on the LocalEyes domain, and after reading all 69,233 pages it incorporated them into the AltaVista database. Excite's spider came along soon after and finding no robots.txt program it did the same thing, indexing the entire Local Eyes site. After all, each page was such a small thing amounting to only about 1K each; they are actually just personalized and hyperlinked templates for LocalEyes search engine.

All of this accidentally happened just in time for the lucrative Christmas shopping season and it has just wreaked havoc on Excite, AltaVista and all the other search engines it powers. What happened you ask?

Go to AltaVista and enter the search string "camera stores."

You'll be confronted by the return of hundreds of pages all beginning with LocalEyes, each page purporting to provide information on local camera stores in various cities and communities across the country.

LocalEyes occupies 91 of the first 100 "camera stores" returned on AltaVista. The LocalEyes pages have frozen out most of the hundreds of camera stores which listed their web sites with AltaVista, making it nearly impossible to find an assortment of camera stores in different parts of the country for easy comparison shopping.

It doesn't stop there...


Design & Publishing . / . WEB . / . Rip-Off . / . Search Engine Spam

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