Using Google Groups to Spam Google Rankings?

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Recently, I was looking for information related to Google.us to write a post about the future and potential of a localized American version of Google.com. In the process I run into an interesting spamming situation that involved this Country-Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD).

After running an exact match on Gloogle.us, I found some links, either in the Google index or in websites listed, that were directing to inappropriate content. By inappropriate I mean content that has been flagged by or is not in accordance to the Google guidelines. This accounts for spam like phornn, aids for Erhectile Dhysfunction, ghambling, travel and other topics.

I would like to warn you that I am purposely altering these keywords so that this post does not get indexed in those categories.

This is an example of my findings:

See the date of the recent files and pages on the right side. According to Google Groups, they were uploaded on June 5 of 2008 and stored on their servers.

Google Groups Image

Below that first screen there was all this text inserted. This is something called keyword stuffing:

Google Groups Text Image

I also had a chance to review more than one thousand pages out of 37,900 indexed results for Google.us.

Google.us Results

Most of these pages had blatant spam, were created in the last 5 months and some of them even had links to not so shady travel sites like link #2 of the image below.

Google URL

Let’s take a quick look at links 1, 2 and 4 in the above image found in the Google ranking. As you can see, the areas affected correspond to Google sub-domains (groups.google.us), directories (google.us/group/) and a combination of them under google.us and google.com. Yes, even Google Groups under the .com TLD get spammed. Search for International SEO in Google Groups and you will get these results as of the writing of this post:

Google Groups Image

Here is another example:

Google URL

Google Groups Image

The information on the right side under 'Recent pages and files' says that they were uploaded in June 26 of this year.

I decided to continue checking out the results, so I clicked on the second option starting from the top in the image above. This is where I landed:

Google Groups Image

Just in case I did not find what I was looking for, they even offered me popular search results.

Google Images

This is what I found from Google regarding how they deal with their groups:

Please be aware that, while we understand how annoying off-topic posts can be, Google doesn't regularly monitor or censor postings sent to Google Groups. However, we do try to prevent wide-scale spam and other forms of Usenet abuse, most notably involving numerous repeat offenses or the posting of someone's personal information (such as credit card or social security numbers).

After carefully reviewing this information I can conclude with the following:

  1. Google Groups under ccTLDs like .fr (for France), .it (for Italy) were heavily affected.
  2. The spamming content was found in English, Spanish, French, Chinese and Italian.
  3. It appears that the content of a Google Group in one language and a TLD (Top Level Domain), let's say content in English found on google.com, gets copied intact to a different Google Group of a different language and different TLD, let's say the same prior English content found on the French group hosted on google.fr, which ultimately increases the number of one-way links.
  4. The link beneficiary Domain Names ranged from neutral TLD's and ccTLD's that were either established sites or newly launched no older than 4-5 months.
  5. Apparently there is still a perceived value to link from Google Groups regardless of the nofollow attribute applied to their external links.
  6. Links from Google Groups appear in Google Webmaster Tools.
  7. Spammers are striving for ranking the Group pages instead of only obtaining direct link equity from the groups.
  8. There are thousands of links of this nature already indexed by Google.
  9. These links are also widely found on blogs and anywhere where there is chance for content to be filled out by robots.
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1 comment

Credit-Helper

Credit-Helper's picture

Very informative article. I know that spamming on many groups platforms is very widespread, not just google. Hopefully google and other large indexing sites will be able to do more about it in the future.