Local SEO Spam, Coming to a Forum Near You

Filed in Featured, Local Search, SEO by Matt McGee on April 29, 2011 4 Comments

When I think of spam in local search, I first think of businesses using phony addresses near a city center, creating multiple local listings, hijacking other companies’ listings, and things like that — usually associated with business listings. But over the past couple weeks, I’m seeing more local SEO spam creeping into one of the message boards I manage.

Here are a couple recent new member profiles from the U2 fan forum on my @U2 website:

local-forum-spam-1

local-forum-spam-2

I’ve tried to block out some of the identifiable business name info here because I believe these local businesses don’t know that this is being done in their name. Why do I think that? Because, in both examples, the IP address used to create the forum profile is from India. So, I suspect these companies — both in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area — hired the same SEO company, and that company outsources its “link building” (to use the term extremely loosely) to India.

(Furthermore, I traded emails with one of the companies above and the guy told me he had no idea this was happening and didn’t approve of it.)

I’ve been seeing the anchor text link spam in forums for years now. (I’m talking about the links that say “back surgery” and “durham fence builder.”)

What’s new above, at least to me, is that the spammer is putting the exact address and/or phone number in the “Location” field in an attempt to create a local citation.

Sad and pathetic, if you ask me.

The problem for local businesses is that, if/when this spam gets caught, they’ll pay the price, not the SEO company that’s doing it.

Small business owners: If you’re working with an SEO company, do yourself a favor and ask as many questions as possible about what they’re doing on your behalf — where they’re getting new links for you, where they’re getting local citations for you, etc. It’s your job to know this.

Comments (4)

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  1. if you want to stop them you’re going to need to remove the

    Powered by SMF 1.1.12 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC

    from all of your pages/site

    spammers are using scrapebox to find your site….and know that they can exploit that platform

    BTW – you could easily search the username stuart—— in quotations on google to find the client’s site :P

  2. Joy says:

    I wish this type of spamming didn’t seem to work so much. I know some local businesses that are doing it and their rankings soared right up after it. I am waiting and waiting for Google to take notice.

  3. Jack Thomas says:

    Black hat SEO is no different than pesky call center telemarketing firms that caused the government to pass do not call laws prohibiting calls got those on the do not call list, by the same token automated smam SEO consultants will do the same thing to the Internet they did to telemarketing.

  4. Dave says:

    I operate several forums and the levels of SEO related spam from India and Pakistan has gotten so out of hand, we were forced to block all IP’s from those countries.

    We’d already gotten the Xrumer bots under control by doing a variation of what Robert Enriquez said except we didn’t remove the “Powered by SMF” copyright footer (required in the SMF license) but we altered the registration page so the bots wouldn’t be able to automate signups.

    The problem with the India spammers is that it’s actual people sitting there, doing the spamming by hand.

    They also cut and paste content from other sources into your forum as replies to posts. So not only are they abusing system resources to place their links, they are also putting your forum at risk of duplicate content penalties.

    How we blocked the spammer IP’s was via the Apache LIMIT directive at the server level. We made it so those unwanted IP ranges can view pages on our servers but they can’t POST (http POST that is).

    The implementation has also worked wonders to cut down on blog comment spam as well.

    What really irritates me is that it’s so completely disrespectful to wastes somebody else’s time and resources while selling a crock of bull service to unsuspecting website owners.

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