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Disclaimer: I don’t really “out” industry people but when they (that includes their teams) cross the line and spam my blogs repeatedly (yes, plural) – I don’t really appreciate it. I sometimes have urges to write about these things but I usually get drowned in work so I never get around to do so. This is actually my first time, yey! I’m not putting it off anymore because I’m fed up with this crap.
Attention: The Head of Online Marketing for Ayala Malls in the Philippines
You probably have mention tracking systems in place so I hope you get to see that line. If not, then you guys better implement one.
Getting to the point, I think you guys need to look at who you hire before you mess up your brand. I love your malls. They are practically my homes away from home. But the people you hired to do your SEO or online marketing? Meh…
You guys can do better. Learn from the other companies that already suffered from bad SEO work. You wouldn’t want your precious domain (http://www.ayalamalls.com.ph/) to just disappear overnight from Google, right?
How It Started
We all get spam comments each day but these guys you hired are especially persistent. They spam social media, communities, blogs, forums, etc. Hey! Name it, if the site had a text box, they probably submitted something crappy there.
Look at the images above. Might look harmless, right? What are they doing anyway? They are just harmlessly posing as Americans, Indians, Germans singers and posting on forums, Facebook, Google+ and blogs, just like any other semi-introvert teenager looking for attention online.
In an SEO standpoint, they are trying to game the system that Google put in place with those methods. To top it all off, they are using outdated “bad” methods. It would’ve been better if they did “updated” bad methods or bad methods that really worked for those casino, insurance and viagra sites. 🙂
Anyway, I’ve been getting a lot of spam from recently from Alveoland/BPI websites but I ignored those because it might just be your affiliates that don’t know any better. I did look into just one of them, and they were clearly hired by AlveoLand. Ugh…
So, This Morning…
… I got another spam comment. A bunch of them actually, on different sites but this one was on my post about “12 Power Practices for Local SEO in the Philippines” and since the comment was a bit ironic, I had to take notice.
So the commenter, whose name is “malls in quezon city” said:
“Hello mates, pleasant article and fastidious urging commented at this place, I am in fact enjoying by these.”
News Flash – If you are going to spam 1000 sites and hope to get improve approvals, increase it by GETTING SOMEONE THAT CAN ACTUALLY F’ING WRITE A STRAIGHT SENTENCE.
Ahem, sorry about that. Let’s go back to the topic: Comment dropping basically means they want to get their link on your site. So the link in question is “Quackbook.com/profile-18773/info” so go ahead and take a look. Wow, it’s from a foreigner! “Adela Cromwell” and the he is actually a she!
Oh, wow! Best of all, Quackbook even has a blog area so they get to post an AWESOME piece of content “http://www.quackbook.com/blog/16270/introducing-critical-elements-of-shopping-mall-shopping-mall-philippines/”
Did you read it? Look at the Title for crap’s sake.
How about the Ayala Group? Do they like it? Does it sound like their “brand” is speaking to you? Oh look! There’s also a picture of buses! How irrelevant is that?
So let’s follow the crappy sentence at the bottom. There’s a link there with a VERY specific anchor text:
“If you have any inquiries with regards to where by and how to use ayala shopping center, you can call us at the web site.”
That’s a bit too obvious right? I kind of know now who hired these guys.
The Link Sends Us To…
Wow! A domain! It sounds like a legit travel blog! (http://thebudgettraveler.org/philippines-mall-republic/)
The content is certainly a bit more expensive this time, probably cost them around $3. Probably less. 🙁
Looking at the content, it’s definitely promoting Trinoma but still pointing to our culprit site, the people that hired them to do this. How could anybody prove that they got hired to do this anyway? Well, common sense tells us nobody in their right mind will optimize this heavily just to point to another site they aren’t working on.
That, or their interns had nothing better to do, which I doubt because I could see the other links they are working on with a quick look at just one site.
So How Do I Know Who Did It?
What’s my proof? Well, for one, if you are going to run a low quality blog network to game Google, try using whois privacy for your domains.
It’s pretty cheap, around $0.99 per year for many registrars but since you use Godaddy, it’s around what, $10 per year? I would think Ayala pays you enough to pay for that.
It even has a phone number + a full address. Proof enough? Oh, they probably outsource part of the spamming, most likely, to some place in India…heck, maybe even on Fiverr so it’s cheaper. Oh, business decisions. Name a business that doesn’t want to save money? 🙂
Why Are They Doing This?
It’s a pretty basic, but outdated way of doing tiered links for SEO.
More Spam -> Spam -> Kind Spammy -> Some Free Blog Content Spam-> Some Private Site They Control With Junk Content -> Your Site
They all utilize anchor text that you want your site to rank with or be relevant to.
So they link like this: quezon city malls -> ayala shopping malls -> malls in quezon city -> Main Ayala Website
See the logic? They use anchor text AND the crappy content with keywords sprinkled around the text, to tell Google that the post on Quackbook is about quezon city malls.
In turn, since the Quackbook post is about “malls” and you talk about Ayala shopping malls on that piece of content, this “makes it relevant” which gives more value when it links out to the actual website they want to push for, which is the “travel blog post.”
Since The “travel blog post” is about quezon city, malls, ayala -> logic dictates that Google will understand that the AyalaMalls site is about “shopping malls that are in Quezon City.” Ingenious! #WIN
What’s Wrong With This Scenario and Link Building Strategy?
- Anchor Text
See the links on each of those sites? They are all heavily favoring keywords about “shopping malls” and they are directly pointing to the site. Google is smart enough to detect these crappy tiers now. It’s not 2008 anymore. There are other more ingenious ways to spam if they really want to continue doing this.
- Keyword Heavy Content + Keyword Injection
The content are all crap. Google can see through grammar and see irrelevant keywords being injected into a spun (rewritten) content. If you, the CMO, are reading this, I’d take a look if Google already sent you a warning within Google Webmaster Tools.
- Your Brand Being Associated with a Kindergardener’s Imagination
Look at the content! http://www.quackbook.com/blog/16270/introducing-critical-elements-of-shopping-mall-shopping-mall-philippines/ – I don’t think I need to say more.
- Waste of Resources
Look, you probably paid these guys upwards of $1500. To get what?
A report showing you 150 links per month? Maybe they’ll include the social links as well? They leave blog comments on sites where there’s already 10,000 other people that left their links on?
They are better off doing other high impact, quality work than letting their interns produce spam. They are just wasting your money.
Oh, and as mentioned earlier, it’s freakin’ outdated. Go back in time, it’ll work like a charm. Today, the pros link with better efficiency and lesser known strategies. 😉
- Hassle Other Innocent People
I check my comments, much like what other serious webmasters do. My brand and blogs are new! Of course I need to engage with people that leave comments in order to grow my blogs. Leaving these comments under proxies that won’t automatically be included into the spam area are a waste of my time, multiplied by the other bloggers that they spammed as well.
My social media manager also needs to waste time in order to clean the G+ community and Facebook page. Moderators on Quora need to waste time weeding these spammers out. Forum moderators needs to waste extra time just to hunt down these fake profiles. It’s a waste of time for many people. Bad karma. What if they happen to spam a very bad tempered but well educated SEO that has a lot of time? He might just make sure your site gets penalized. 🙂
If they are doing tiered links like that with anchor text-reliant links pointing to your site, I’m pretty sure I could dig up crappier links pointing directly to the AyalaMalls domain but I don’t want to waste my time researching further or where you are ranking or if you are already in trouble or not.
Ayala is not to be blamed here, nor it’s employees. This is just the reality of the industry. People just don’t know any better.
“SEO” companies make pitches, they sometimes say how they will be doing their work but as the business owner/CMO/marketing manager, there’s really no time for you to know what is “right or wrong” and you’ll just give them the go signal.
I hope Globe isn’t getting this treatment and I do hope BPI isn’t also in this as well. I’m practically a customer for all your brands and I don’t want to see anything go wrong with your web presence now nor in the future.
I would suggest that businesses out there be more informed when it comes to hiring agencies and freelancers. It’s your brand on the line, not theirs.
If you are going to do SEO or market online, be all in. Don’t cut corners. Don’t let others destroy your brand.
I wanted to make this post to be around 4000+ words but I didn’t want to dig deeper into this. They do what they do, it works for them and it has made their business work for a long time. I didn’t name any names so technically, I didn’t really “out” anyone. I’m also not the one that started this. You wasted my time, so since I already wasted a bit because of you, might as well waste a bit more.
One Final Note
Thanks to the person that ran the software to spam comments out that drove me to write today. Awesome motivational tool. 🙂
I rarely write here but I do hope that I could adjust my schedule to post here at least once a month.
A tip for the spammer since you inspired me to write today. Here’s a Pro-Tip so you can increase your “conversions” even if it wouldn’t really help you much. Your boss will be thrilled to see more backlinks though.
If you really want to spam using comments, use a specific code that only you can know. With no link in your regular spun comment + code, spam your whole list. Then scrape the list to find the specific code. That way, you’ll know if the site is an auto-approve blog. That’s now your current auto-approve list. Then add the rest in a filtered list so you can always remove the non-auto-approve sites from your new scrapes. See? I helped you out!
Boom! Pan*s! (<- A stupidly viral, local slang.)
To the readers, CMO’s, business owners and most industry peers that I haven’t really met yet, if you liked this, please do share it out to your social media accounts and subscribe to my feed, follow me on Twitter, Google+ or signup with your email at the top of the screen.
Have a great week!
Update: 1 week later, I found another link on another local blog I run. This time, the link they dropped was from “http://rctftw.stemplay.net/index.php?task=profile&id=33419” -> which then leads to the Budget Traveler blog again.
Update: I got another one today, November 10, 2014 – “http://camphopewell.techministry.net/UserProfile/tabid/61/userId/17978/Default.aspx”Own A Shopping Mall? Your Online Marketing Might Be In Bad Hands by Dennis