Feeds

Google red cards Privila for gaming search engine

Articles of bad faith?

Boost IT visibility and business value

Google has removed Privila sites from its index after the firm was caught attempting to hoodwink the search engine giant.

Chicago-based Privila has built "portals" designed to have relatively high search engine ranking scores while presenting nothing but ads. The firm's modus operandi involves buying sites after the original owner forgets to renew a registration.

Examples in the network include wallofdove.com, previously owned by a stoner metal band called Dove; bustem.com, the one-time website of a brand-protection outfit; sailjworld.com, the former home of a Maryland sailing school; and soccerlove.com.

Privila fills these bought-in sites with custom-written material, generated by unpaid interns. These articles are strangely worded affairs, distorted so as to include the maximum number of keywords. Each site on the network contains a score of "articles" each around the 600 words mark.

These sites are promoted by link exchange spam. But following a recent refinement in the technique users who visit these sites will see nothing but banner ads, created by unpaid graphics interns, unless they set their browser’s user-agent to match that of Google’s spider. By dropping the "articles", Privila was able to fit in even more ads.

The ruse came to light after researchers at Cambridge University's Computer Lab received a link invitation spam email from a Privila-run site. Steven Murdoch of Cambridge Uni discovered 329 websites in the Privila network after he investigated the business model behind spam emails unwisely sent to his colleague, Richard Clayton.

"Curiously, the Windows Live Search, and Yahoo! spiders are presented with an almost empty page: just a header but neither adverts nor articles," Murdoch writes.

Google purged Privila sites from its index on 8 March, a day after Murdoch wrote about the scam on Cambridge University's Light the Blue Touchpaper blog. The sites remain unavailable.

We dropped Privila an email to get its take on the matters, but we're yet to hear back from the firm. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town
Paid-for apps that provide free downloads? Really
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?