The anatomy of a deceptive Tweet spamming Google Real-Time Search

Google real time search spammed and abusedMinutes after the launch of Google’s famous Real Time Search, the Internet marketing community began to spam the scrolling SERPs. Google gave birth to a new spam industry.

I’m sure Google’s WebSpam team will pull the plug sooner or later, but as of today Google’s real time search results are extremely vulnerable to questionable content.

The somewhat shady approach to make creative use of real time search I’m outlining below will not work forever. It can be used for really evil purposes, and Google is aware of the problem. Frankly, if I’d be the Googler in charge, I’d dump the whole real-time thingy until the spam defense lines are rock solid.

Here’s the recipe from Dr Evil’s WebSpam-Cook-Book:

Ingredients

  • 1 popular topic that pulls lots of searches, but not so many that the results scroll down too fast.
  • 1 landing page that makes the punter pull out the plastic in no time.
  • 1 trusted authority page totally lacking commercial intentions. View its source code, it must have a valid TITLE element with an appealing call for action related to your topic in its HEAD section.
  • 1 short domain, 1 cheap Web hosting plan (Apache, PHP), 1 plain text editor, 1 FTP client, 1 Twitter account, and a prize basic coding skills.

Preparation

Create a new text file and name it hot-topic.php or so. Then code:
<?php
$landingPageUri = "http://affiliate-program.com/?your-aff-id";
$trustedPageUri = "http://google.com/something.py";
if (stristr($_SERVER["HTTP_USER_AGENT"], "Googlebot")) {
header("HTTP/1.1 307 Here you go today", TRUE, 307);
header("Location: $trustedPageUri");
}
else {
header("HTTP/1.1 301 Happy shopping", TRUE, 301);
header("Location: $landingPageUri");
}
exit;
?>

Provided you’re a savvy spammer, your crawler detection routine will be a little more complex.

Save the file and upload it, then test the URI http://youspamaw.ay/hot-topic.php in your browser.

Serving

  • Login to Twitter and submit lots of nicely crafted, not too much keyword stuffed messages carrying your spammy URI. Do not use obscene language, e.g. don’t swear, and sail around phrases like ‘buy cheap viagra’ with synonyms like ‘brighten up your girl friend’s romantic moments’.
  • On their SERPs, Google will display the text from the trusted page’s TITLE element, linked to your URI that leads punters to a sales pitch of your choice.
  • Just for entertainment, closely monitor Google’s real time SERPs, and your real-time sales stats as well.
  • Be happy and get rich by end of the week.

Google removes links to untrusted destinations, that’s why you need to abuse authority pages. As long as you don’t launch f-bombs, Google’s profanity filters make flooding their real time SERPs with all sorts of crap a breeze.

Hey Google, for the sake of our children, take that as a spam report!



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20 Comments to "The anatomy of a deceptive Tweet spamming Google Real-Time Search"

  1. Search & Real Time Madness on 10 December, 2009  #link

    Danny Sullivan in “Search & Real Time Madness”: […] For more on the spam potential, I highly recommend checking out Google Enables Real Time Spam and More from Outspoken Media and The anatomy of a deceptive Tweet spamming Google Real-Time Search from Sebastian’s Pamphlets. […]

  2. […] The anatomy of a deceptive Tweet spamming Google Real-Time Search, sebastians-pamphlets.com […]

  3. […] can be exploited. I’m working on a major article about this, but in the meantime, a read of Sebastian’s spam recipe and Sugarrae’s post should be enough to make your eyes widen in […]

  4. […] can be exploited. I’m working on a major article about this, but in the meantime, a read of Sebastian’s spam recipe and Sugarrae’s post should be enough to make your eyes widen in […]

  5. […] The anatomy of a deceptive Tweet spamming Google Real-Time Search what is twitter? i just see a large whale every time i go there…. (tags: twitter spam advertising) […]

  6. […] I just don’t see them having tremendous spam value either. Sure, you can do some nice cloaking like SebastianX points out, but I just don’t see that lasting too long. It’s the same […]

  7. […] The anatomy of a deceptive Tweet spamming Google Real-Time Search – Sebastian’s Pamphlets […]

  8. […] The anatomy of a deceptive Tweet spamming Google Real-Time Search […]

  9. […] people started realizing Google made this change, articles started being written about how to game the system and get links on top of popular […]

  10. […] Serious Spamming Consequences Morestar I think you and maybe others have missed the best part: The anatomy of a deceptive Tweet spamming Google Real-Time Search Off-topic: I am not scared! __________________ "Being an expert isn’t telling other […]

  11. Eric Ward on 11 December, 2009  #link

    Wasn’t it Skittles back a few months ago that streaming unfiltered tweets straight to their homepage? Within an hour people were spamming it in comical ways. I think someone sent a tweet that mentioned how their child’s kitten died choking on a yellow skittle. Not true but to see that on skittle’s stream right on their homepage was, well, just nuts. Sometimes I think it’s the public relations buzz and desire to look all sophisticated and web6.0 locked in. That’s what the companies are after that drives decisions. After all, Google certainly has been in the news for all this, even if this whole firestorm is known in-house at the Googleplex to be just a test, and they haven’t told us.

    Yet.

    I will give them credit for taking the gamble. When this “feature” becomes one click opt-out, and they can show a few million kept it, that’s a win.

    -Eric

  12. Paul Carpenter on 14 December, 2009  #link

    DaveN’s Blog: Real-time search turns into Google’s Stalingrad?

  13. Sebastian on 14 December, 2009  #link

    Yup Eric, a “RTSR (RealTimeSpammyResults) opt-out” option saved in the users search preferences cookie would be very nice to have. At least until (more) relevance kicks in. Or maybe at all.

  14. Michael Martinez on 14 December, 2009  #link

    I noticed today that I did not have to check my options to see real-time feedback for the “google url shortener” query.

    Clearly they are dinking with the technology to their own marketing advantage.

    You really have to admire the level playing field Google maintains for everyone.

    All this “secret cookie” black hat stuff (for mandatory web history) can just be ignored as long as people get to see Google-related tweets in real-time without having to worry about clicking through to OPTIONS/LATEST.

  15. […] The anatomy of a deceptive Tweet spamming Google Real-Time Search – Sebastian’s Pamplets […]

  16. Rand Fishkin: […] I think Real-Time Search Results are seriously damaging (and nearly everyone, consumer or search enthusiast, agrees) Google’s usability and relevance. […]

  17. […] search results with spam (see Search & Real Time Madness, Google Enables Real Time Spam and The anatomy of a deceptive Tweet spamming Google Real-Time Search). We’ve also seen recently how malware sites tapped into popular search topics (see Guess […]

  18. swarovski strasssteine on 28 December, 2009  #link

    Good article Sebastian. I always learn a lot from your posts and really appreciate it! I wish you a Happy New Year. Regards, Martin

  19. Van on 1 January, 2010  #link

    I agree with the above comment that the new real time search for Twitter on Google has caused a few problems and led to alot of people tweeting for the sake of tweeting. I think we are going through a new dawn in social media and social media is really trying to define itself and work out the role it plays in everyday media and communications. I think when utilised effectively as a promotion source Twitter is without a doubt a great voice for small - medium business.

  20. Marty Simpson on 17 March, 2010  #link

    Google has been pulling back the reigns on real-time results, unless its for niche, and trendy/newsy stuff. I think by launching everywhere, they were basically pulling a PR stunt.

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