21 thoughts on “Big Media or Big SEO Spammers?”

  1. The whole SEO saga has seen high drama from the very first chapter. This is just a new chapter of this long story. I am pretty sure that in the next 5-10 years, there is going to be another interesting chapter. Somebody is going to sue Google, and a dubiously tech-unsavvy court is going to declare that Google and other search engines should publish the exact algorithm by which they rank search results so that all websites “have an equal opportunity to compete on the same level for search engine ranking”.

  2. Om, I did a bit of the digging for Violet on this (she’s my partner). To your point about other newspapers using Perfect Market, I discovered the following hostnames tied to IP addresses used by Perfect Market’s systems: – articles.latimes.com – articles.baltimoresun.com – articles.orlandosentinel.com – articles.sun-sentinel.com – articles.courant.com – articles.mcall.com – articles.dailypress.com – articles.sfgate.com – articles.nydailynews.com — offline

    I obtained this by finding the IP address used by SFGate’s Perfect Market subsite and then performing a reverse-lookup of neighboring IP addresses.

    It looks like LA Times, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinal, South Florida Sun Sentinal, Hartford Courant, Allentown Morning Call, Virginia Daily Press and the New York Daily News are all using this or looking to.

    Interestingly, many of these papers are Tribune outlets – Tribune just participated in a round of funding for Perfect Market and I’m wondering if this is something they intend to roll out more widely across their portfolio.

    I should probably blog about this, but thought you and your readers would be interested in this additional information.

    1. Ben

      Thanks for the update after your investigation(s). I think it is seriously strange to see these companies not exactly be conscious of their own brand and stature. By the way, not all of these papers are Tribune outlets.

      1. Google is getting spammed by too many angles to handle. They only deal with the worst of the worst. Spamming is now part of the web.

  3. Big media is the new black hat SEO.

    The problem is Google will basically let any large company do anything they want without punishment. They play by a different set of rules.

    1. Gary

      Interesting point of view. Why do you say that? I mean if this is clearly a breach, why would Google let them get away. I would love to know more about your reasons.

      1. The recent expose(s) seobook.com did about mahal0.com has led many SEO-type folks to believe that a relationship with high ranking Googlers can get you preferential treatment.

  4. Hi, there:

    This is a really interesting topic that helped blow up a Windy Citizen discussion thread last week following an interesting post from a former ChicagoNow blogger. We invite you to check it out, because there are many examples and anecdotes relevant to what you’re talking about here.


  5. I am amazed that Google tolerates this kind of behaviour but on the other hand it clearly deminstrates that print media does not understand how this game is played and why for the past 10-15 years they failed on the net.

  6. Most people will stoop to any level to pick up a penny –as long as it’s laying there in the open, with no obvious owner, and no awful onus attached to it.

    Someone build me a spambot-app that lets me spam every website that offends me. In moments the offender will be calling his lawyer to drag me into court to explain why I did it.

    “It easy, your honor. The SOB stole my time, my attention, and directly or indirectly, cost me money -to make money he has no intention of sharing with me.”

    If such a retaliatory spambot-app existed, I would pay the app store a handsome price for that bot. They would pay a handsome royalty to the app developer. Legitimate business interests would lobby for legislation to “ban the avenging spambot app.” Odd that they wouldn’t think to stop the offending practice first. “Oh, what tangled webs we weave….” -dh

  7. Newspapers as cyberpunks. Love it!
    But for some reason, I can’t get that old Far Side image out of my head; the one where the gang of dinosaurs are huddled together, smoking cigarettes.

    Death is rarely pretty.

  8. Have any of you looked at SFgate archive pages?

    They are not scrapping or duplicating anything. The articles are their own, looks to me like they are just moving them and republishing them in an archive template. They might be changing the title of the page based on some auto process but that is not spamming. Just often writers and bloggers have vague headlines which are fine in print but on the web you need to use titles people actually search for. So Dog Bites Man not Canine Snacks on Human.

    The pages have less ads than their main pages, jsut htey are mostly Google Adsense ones.

    They might be stripping out some repeat text like biogs and such as that would make the pages less focused in terms of search. But that is a good practice, search engines want to be able to find relevant articles of high quality.

    There seems to be no change in the actual copy so they are not keyword stuffing.

    I would say the worst offenders for spamming are blogger with every SEO plugin swditched on and generating thousands of emptyish tag pages.

    This is a non-story.

    1. “There seems to be no change in the actual copy so they are not keyword stuffing.”

      Have you looked at Violet Blue’s actual complaint, which kicked this whole discussion off? I don’t think you have.

  9. Still no explanation from “James” or Julie regarding why titles were changed (to completely different meanings), punctuation stripped or links removed.

    The link removal is the part that is more bizarre (and gray).

    1. Titles were in fact never changed. Commas were missing on a very small number of articles. That has been corrected. Some articles used a nonstandard character code for the comma that was incorrectly transcoded in content feeds.

      We are also now including editorial links. Originally, we had disabled links because on evergreen or archive stories many links were broken and we decided it would be a better user experience without so many dead ends/404 errors.

      After further consideration and discussions with our customers we made the decision to restore the links.

      We still do not think it is an ideal user experience to have so many broken links. However we have not implemented a comprehensive solution to that yet.

      James I don’t know who you are but your comment is right on!

      Several of us from Perfect Market are at SXSW if you are here and want to talk to us, feel free and give us a shout on twitter. We are @perfectmarket

      1. If your concern is a few old links breaking, then surely linking to the Archive.org version of a page is likely better than just removing ALL links. Further it would not be a technical challenge to at least grab the status code and leave the links that still work, while flagging 404s and such for review.

        Removing all links from the articles just lowers their utility. And it is not a good longterm business practice if they want people to keep linking at their articles.

  10. scandalous! Some people will go to great depths to make money, ripping off peoples work and profitting from other people in the process is just evil!

  11. Disappointing to hear that major media outlets are resorting to these type of tactics. I suppose they are trying to keep content fresh and ensure that there is enough content available.

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