Last week, via Google+ I highlighted an issue concerning an exact-match brand related search query which produced a questionable search result. Originally raised internally by a colleague in the High Position office, I don’t often make a point of picking holes in Google’s webspam fighting algorithms, no search engine is, nor will ever be perfect, but every now and then I come across an example which is inexplicably bad. The Ralph Lauren example last week was one of those examples.
Shortly after the domain seemed to disappear from search! Coincidence? Did Matt Cutts read my Tweet/Google+ post and take action? I like to think so.
So What’s All This About Space Fruit?
Today I’d like to share another case of *brand spam*. I hereby introduce you to moonfruit.com! (Moon Fruit = Space Fruit - see what I did there? Ok…anyway…)
Sticking with the Ralph Lauren theme, I came across this search result today - ralphlshirtsps.moonfruit.com.
The SERPS were for a branded ‘ralph lauren’ search query in Google.co.uk UK wide search. I haven’t got web history or any of that malarkey enabled. You can see the full set of SERPs here.
Let’s quickly review some of the facts for ralphlshirtsps.moonfruit.com.
- This is a Flash based site for ‘Scoop - Easy Dog Walking Services’
- Address is: Snoop Doggy Services, 1 High Street, High Times, Highlands
- Email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone number is: 123 123 123
- Social profiles do not exist.
- The site has Lorem ispum text throughout all 5 pages of the site, except for the homepage which contains, you guessed it, Ralph Lauren spam!
Sample text includes:
“ralph lauren big pony polo shirt,ralph lauren quilted jacket mens,ralph lauren t shirt,ralph lauren cheap,ralph lauren polo cheap,Ralph Lauren (Ralph Lauren) from the United States, and with an intense flavor.”
I think it’s safe to say this site in no way represents Ralph Lauren!
But Wait…it Doesn’t End There!
As if this example wasn’t enough, there are loads of these Moonfruit domains ranking for some seriously high-end brand related search terms. For example:
- cheap-louisvuitton.moonfruit.com - ranking page one for Louis Vuitton
- cocochanels.moonfruit.com - ranking page one for Chanel
- nikeairforceonesuk.moonfruit.com - ranking page one for Nike Air Force
- mulberrysminis.moonfruit.com - ranking page one for Mulberry
- ukhollisterco.moonfruit.com - ranking page one for Hollister
Need I go on? I can if you want me to! There are too many to screenshot, but trust me they’re all there, at time of posting anyway.
It looks like it’s one big spam ring of Moonfruit domains. One look at their backlink profile will identify the vast majority of these domains. Here’s one prime example: exanimostly.chargedmultimedia.com/node/277?destination=node%2F277%3Fpage%3D1.
According to Ahrefs the ralphlshirtsps.moonfruit domain has seen a rise of of ~314 links in the past 10 days or so.
Majestic SEO shows a similar pattern but with a larger influx of links.
Do Other Search Engines Love Space Fruit?
I think it’s worth mentioning that as far as I can see both Bing and Yahoo do not have these sites indexed and certainly do not rank them within search. Yandex and DuckDuckGo also do not have these sites index. Ask.com does, but do we really care about Ask? Perhaps I shouldn’t say that, oh well.
So why has Google indexed these sites? More to the point, why on earth is Google ranking these sites on page one for branded related search queries?!
The level of brand-based spam is very concerning. If spammers can continually rank highly within search for major brand terms such as Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton imagine what they could do to smaller brands? That’s a pretty scary thought. They’re often currently outranking the official social profiles of the brands in question!
Why are they doing it? There doesn’t seem to be any monetary value involved; one can only assume they’re doing it because they can. I’ll do some further analysis but I am not sure I will find an answer to that questions.
So how are these spammers achieving page one visibility for brand related keywords? How are they out-ranking official brand social profiles? How are they outranking major brand resellers?
Does the Moonfruit Free Website Builder contain some magical SEO-wizardry or is it just the sudden influx of exact/partial-match brand anchors within the link profile? Will Panda 2.0 (or Panda 4 depending on your preference) wipe-out this level of webspam? Let’s hope so!
Do you have any examples of webspam which you’d be willing to share? If you do then be sure to let me know!
I should probably state for the record that whilst these domains reside beneath moonfruit.com they are simply free sites built via the moonfruit.com free website builder tools. Moonfruit.com themselves are not the root cause of the spam! Interestingly Moonfruit.com offer their customers this SEO guide which appears to offer some reasonable (albeit slightly dated) advice, not that I’ve thoroughly read it.