Google spam research for the Bill Slawski obituary reveals the dark side of SEO.

Google spam research for the Bill Slawski obituary reveals the dark side of SEO.

Search Engine Land »Channel» SEO »Google search results for‘ Bill Slawski obituary ’shows dark side of SEO

Yesterday we reported the sad news that Bill Slawski has passed away.

It’s less than 24 hours later and no actual dead traffic has been published (via a news site or funeral home). However, Google search results are filled with spam results.

See his current Google search ranking for [bill slawski mortality]:

This is awful, especially for anyone looking for reliable information about Slawski’s funeral arrangements.

To me, this SERP is similar to Google, prior to the Panda Update, for certain queries where content farms dominated. That’s the easiest way to describe it.

Many low quality websites have created thin content with the aim of optimizing it for ranking whenever someone searches for death for Bill Slawski. And they’re making money on whatever traffic they get through demo ads.

What’s worse – there are many types of sites. And these sites have one thing in common: the content reads as it was automatically generated or written (badly) by people whose first language is not English.

Let’s take a look at some of the sites to see how great this is:

The material is pure garbage. See this article:

“He was ugly and heartbroken until he suffered a broken leg that caused his death. Before he died, he suffered a Brian clot, which allowed him to be admitted to the hospital. This information was shared on Twitter. This did not affect his ability to think and write. He was only addressing issues with proper awakening. He was very active on Twitter before his death. “

Other than the content discovery problem, this site seems to be overriding Google’s (aka Top Heavy) page layout algorithm. Before you even get the content, you get nothing but ads, ads, ads.

And a search on [mortality site:] shows that this is not a one – off. It is a strategy:

“No doubt he was surrounded by his wife and children as he breathed his last peacefully. Bill’s partner’s further insights are not yet available. We are keeping an eye on this matter. ”

If this is not complete search spam, it is definitely about low quality content that you can publish before you reach that threshold:

“Twitter laments the lack of life of Bill Slawski’s trained website at the age of 61. However, his clarification of lack of life remains a mystery. What happened?”

In fact, when I finished my ads to take that screenshot, it was honest with so many ads and redirects to spam that I could not even look at the site anymore. I hope my computer didn’t get a virus.

Before looking at this example, be sure to check the title tag of this site’s home page: “CmaTrends« We SELL Entertainment Periodt! ”

And open his “article”:

“Search Engine Land author Bill Slawski has died at the age of 61, #Bill #Slawski #author #Search #Engine #Land #died #age Welcome to O L A S M E D I A TV N E W S, Here’s what we have for you today: “

I could cite more examples, but you get the point.

Google’s new information problem. The quality of this search result is poor. But it goes beyond Slawski.

This is a known issue. For some new search queries, there is often not enough content on the web to rank Google. So you get a bunch of content that otherwise has no reason to have any visibility.

Sometimes you also see this after a broad core algorithm update. Suddenly, Google starts addressing iffy content from suspicious sources – as if they’re hitting a reset button type. Typically, Google eventually finds it and returns more relevant content to where it should be (but not always).

The profits of death. Apart from the “news” sites that are clearly fake, there are a few dead spammy websites – and Both are also loaded with display ads. Including Google ads.

But this is not a new problem. And it goes far beyond Slawski. In fact, some brands are even helping to fund this low-quality content.

Marketing Brew published a report in November detailing how spammy sites feed and pay for ads from major brands (e.g., Nike, Nordstrom, Zola, Burt’s Bees). Google told Marketing Brew that:

“Strict policies that explicitly prohibit ads served by Google from running on sites that use disruptive advertising formats, including pages that contain more ads than publisher content. We also prohibit advertisements from running alongside copied content from other sites. When we find pages or sites that violate these policies we take appropriate enforcement action. ”

I contacted Google to comment on this story. I will update if / when I receive a reply.

New on Search Engine Land

New on Search Engine Land

About The Author

About The Author

Danny Goodwin is a Senior Editor of Search Engine Land. In addition to writing daily about SEO, PPC, and more for Search Engine Land, Goodwin manages a roster of Search Engine Land content experts. It also helps to register our conference suite, SMX – Search Marketing Expo. Prior to joining Search Engine Land, Goodwin was an Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal, where he led editorial initiatives for the brand. He was also an editor at Search Engine Watch. He has spoken at many major search conferences and virtual events, and has derived his expertise from a wide range of publications and podcasts.