Search Engines using Smoke and Mirrors to Hide Flaws

Source Title:
X10 Free Website Ready Get in Line!
Story Text:

Over at the ABestWeb affiliate forums X10, who deal in consumer electronics, are announcing a new feature to their affiliate program: A free website, all ready to go. Some of the members are concerned over "duplicate content" penalties and the X10 rep steps in to dispel a few myths about Search engines and ranking penalties.

The concern over duplicate content penalties is a very common one, and as Heather Paulson points out, it's a myth. In fact, there are an enormous amount of myths floating about the affiliate and search marketing forums, particularly amongst those new to scene.

Some of those myths have been carefully planted and nurtured by the Search engines themselves, presumably in an effort to put the fear of god into newbie seo's and affilate marketers and limit practices that can hurt Search relevancy. Some of them are almost certainly the work of over active imaginations on the part of the marketers and promoters.

Let me run through the points Heather makes in response to the duplicate content query and add some commentary on each.

Common Search Engine Penalty Myths

On Duplicate Content

MSN - Yahoo - AOL -Cnet - and thousands of other news websites all subscribe to the API news wires and other news feeds in various formats which are all duplicate content and they do not have any problems. There are thousands of blogs and other news sites that subscribe to syndicated XML news feeds which are duplicate content and they do not have a problem..

It's hard not to get the point isn't it? Think about the power needed to compare millions of documents for dupe content! We know that Google can do this on small scales, particularly on a domain level scale, but at the absolute worst it's simple highly unlikely that you'd ever have a problem for similar content to another site.

Stealing Content with Frames
Google says it's not possible for one site to frame another adn rank for the content it frames. Heather says this is not so, and although i've not seen evidence, largely as i've not looked for any, i've heard enough rumblings from the SEO crowd to say that there's more than likely some problem with Googles assertion.

On PageRank

Have you noticed that low PR sites at times are highly placed in the engines? Page rank means nothing another wise tale.. (But they got you to download the toolbar!!)

It's a no brainer, savvy search marketers have been ignoring PR for years, but the quote made me laugh, so there you have it...

On Hand Editing and Manual Removal of Sites

What company would hire a police department staff to go through trillions upon trillions of websites looking for Aunt Ednas hidden script on her make a doilly dot com site? This dosn't make logical business sense, why would they spend a lot of money on a task force which produces no profit or revenue for the company and we all know Google and other engines are in the game to make money not spend in on policing thier consumer, Instead of doing this they tell you they are doing this which stops you from doing this.. Get it?

Emphasis mine. I'd have to partly disagree here, we know that Google and Yahoo both hand edit search results, but the extent to which they do this is infintisimally small, and generally only on high profile results, presumably the kind of results that could attract media attention should they be "dirty".

More Sex, Lies, and Penalties in Search?

Do add any the post didnt cover, i think it's quite a few. It would be interesting to find out what we collectively feel is bullshit and what we know to be true.

Wonderful stuff from ABW!


I kinda like smoke and mirrors

It gives me a competitive advantage in SEO.
But seriously I'm always shocked at what people think the search engines (Google in particular) are able to do to detect fraud/aggressive SEO.

The fact is most is caught with a few good ideas and webmasters keep looking for simple quick fix mistakes they have made.

About the only chance G have of catching some of my tactics is if they do a full site audit before sending my AdSense cheque.


>Page rank means nothing another wise tale..

It's "wives" tale.

oil is a funny guy....
WmC took some time in that thread....

X10 Bankruptcy

Slightly off on a tangent here but why would any affiliate work with a company with a history of stiffing web publishers and advertisers out of money?

21 October 2003, X10 Wireless Technology — familiar to countless Internet users as sellers of miniature wireless cameras — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. District Court. Their bankruptcy filing came just two weeks after a Superior Court jury in Santa Ana, California, ordered them to pay $4.3 million in damages to three brothers who claimed that X10 failed to pay $564,000 in commissions and stole their proprietary technology and business model. X10's bankruptcy filing also left a variety of web publishers, including major sites such as AOL, Microsoft, FOX News, Google, eBay, and Yahoo, holding the bag for their advertising costs and other unpaid revenues.

X10 Bankruptcy

Well I know they owe a previous company I worked for money so I would not trust them but they really did know how to convert

It is a LONG story

Had to do with some judge in San Diego.

The bottom line is all affiliates were always paid !!! I'm told.


The oiginal "advise" referenced seems a bit "unexperienced". Sure there are smokes and mirrors - thats part of the game, and has allways been, but anyone that has been doing SEO for some years know that just because some sites apparently get away with something dosen't mean everyone will - or that it will stay that way. Just because you don't see something dosen't mean it's not there.

some kind souls have helped enlighten her

Oilman's comment was the best. Oilman, Chrisnrae and a few others helped fix some overstatements in X10's tirade.

re: dupe content and cookie cutter affiliates

i do think the cookie cutter amazon sites were affected. the thing is, you don't have to compare all of the content of all of the pages. maybe first, as sort of an 'index' they look for all domains with 'powered by mrrat's script' or whatever x10 will have on all the sites.

if it is one of these sites, decrease ranking.

i mean, why would any seo want tons and tons of amazon or x10 or any other affiliate pages in their index?

if the x10 site is just pointed to, though, i don't see a problem with using it.

(and for the record, i was one of those people using mod_rewrite on the amazon feed for a while. i recently stopped mod_Rewriting it. if the SEs still want to index it, i'm not gonna block it, but i'm also not gonna try to rewrite the urls to make them 'friendly'...


ok, i shoulda read the whole abestweb thread first before ranting above.

too much information... ;)


"Wonderful stuff from ABW!"--huh? This person is making all these claims about what Google will/won't and can/can't do, but they misspell "possibile," "thier" (twice), and "gaurantee" all in one post? Is this person really an X10 rep? And they really cut through the myths and get to the heart of SEO: "meta description are the most important meta tag"



"meta description are the most important meta tag"

..but only if you comma seperate the keyword tag too. Gotta use commas, gotta use 'em :)



Duplicate Content

As a recent victim of a duplicate content penalty (an authoritative wiki-powered site republished my content, which was then used by other sites for their pages. If you searched for any unique phrase from the page in question (384 words), their site showed up, with all the other pages restricted with the "similar results" filter.

It's been a week since I had it taken down, and for the first time, my site is showing up for the content again, and all the others are being filtered.


"Wonderful stuff from ABW!"--huh?

Heathers rant had me in stitches, i take it you didn't enjoy it GG...

but they misspell "possibile," "thier" (twice), and "gaurantee" all in one post?

Glad you're staying on track and commenting on those issues of import to the webmaster community GG - keep up the fine work...


>>trillions upon trillions

Huh? In addition to Google's 8 billion pages?

this just gets better

In addition to the funny tirade on ABW, we now are graced with Googleguy's weekly insight. Instead of focusing on that minor 302 bug, clarifying SEO myths or discussing their lack of source exclusion, GG comments on spelling. Thanks Googleguy :)


GoogleGuy is therefore clearly the person responsible for the "did you mean" function.... quick, find me a sharp proddy stick, I have years of pent up British spelling frustration to take out on him.

More to the point

The title of GG's post was Sheesh.

According to, Sheesh means: Used to express mild annoyance, surprise, or disgust. ([Alteration of Jesus1.] - would you believe?)

I wonder which meaning he was using :-)

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.