With the quake in Haiti, there’s been a massive outpouring of interest in Google trends, as some want to see the extent of the damage, some looking for friends/loved ones, some looking to help in any way they can.. and then there are the not so noble.
The black hatters, the spammers, those who embed code within pages to trick you into thinking that you’re clicking through to an agency wanting to help in light of the crisis, when all the website is really designed to do is.. well who really knows? It could be to silently install malware on your computer, it could be to just accept your information to build a saleable database of peoples names and numbers. The pages will only be findable in the engines SERPs for a short time, before they are actively removed, but some will still click on them under the false pretense that they’re helping the victims in Haiti.
Black hat SEOs are in the business of generating bursts of traffic, to targetted pages. They’ll use every trick, scam, and loophole that they can to either steal information, install malicious software, or what not. So how do you know what a genuine link is, and isn’t? Well first off and foremost, if you truly want to help just visit www.redcross.org and follow their links to lend your aid.
But how to spot a blackhat link, and a genuine link? First and foremost, before clicking any link returned on the SERP for “haiti earthquake donation”, seeing as it’s a very hot trend at the moment, check the specific URL (written in green, at the bottom of the description) before hand. Take for example, the American Red Cross’s URL and description for their site currently :
American Red Cross
Earthquake in Haiti. Posted in Press Releases, 01/14/10 … See larger map by visiting mGive You can donate $10 to Haiti relief by texting “Haiti” to 90999. … www.redcross.org/
A well known agency & website title, intelligible description (not spammy), and the actual link being a .org, further lending to it’s credibility.
Now as for a blackhats spammy/scammy version:
Haiti Earthquake Donation
13 Jan 2010 … $250000 Donation to the Red Cross Haiti Earthquake Fund . Donate to help Oxfam’s emergency response in Haiti.Posts Tagged ‘ haiti earthquake …
The title reads that they have the noblest intentions, but the description text is very spammy, and adding the biggest red flag, the url listed at the end. A properly written URL wouldn’t contain “?q=” as part of the code. What that portion of the url does, is it acts as a redirect from the link you actually click. By clicking the above link you’ll be sent to who knows where, but it won’t have anything to do with helping those in need in Haiti.
Taking just a moment to read the expanded URL that is listed in the results, can save you immeasurable amounts of grief at a later date. In the end, black hat SEOs take advantage of the true victims, exploit people who genuinely want to help, and if they’re piggybacking a genuine website like above, it hurts their reputation online as well. All to give you a trojan/worm/virus to infect your system, and steal your personal information.