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Old 04-17-2005   #1
sew2002
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Stanford Daily Selling Links

***I apologize in advance if this is not noteworthy. I'm fairly new to the SEO game, so this is the first time I've seen a major search engine get bamboozoed***

I was using marketleap to check the link popularity of my competitors when I suddenly saw some of them jump from paltry 20-50 link popularity in Yahoo to a whopping 60,000!

Curious, I searched further and found that these sites spammed the entire Stanford Daily Newspaper website (scroll down to the bottom to see the comments section).

Unlike Yahoo!, Google and MSN did not reward any link popularity for these spams. I was very surprised... I have three questions:

1. Isn't Yahoo! usually really good at catching these things? Why are they the only search engine that did not catch this?

2. Will Yahoo ban these sites from its search engine? Some people say you can never be penalized by how other people link to you. After all, what if your competitor submitted YOUR url to a link farm?

3. What recourse does Stanford Daily have against these spammers? Can I request Yahoo to ban them?

Last edited by sew2002 : 04-17-2005 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 04-17-2005   #2
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In my opinion the entire Stanford online news is a bunch of SE spammers. I have even mentioned this before here in another thread, where the Stanford news was promoting viagra, debt consolidation, payday loans, credit cards and online casinos.

I even wrote the Dean's Office at Stanford to ask them if they were aware of the activities of their online news, I never got a response. Odd way for the holder of the google patents to behave in my opinion.

IMo, Google does give these links weight, they just chose not to display them to the public.
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Old 04-17-2005   #3
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So these are actual ads and not hacks?

It is interesting that a newspaper from a respected university would consider spamming the internet with these kind of links.
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Old 04-17-2005   #4
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So these are actual ads and not hacks?
Yup, actual advertisements, if you are talking about http:// daily.stanford.org

One of my unanswered questions to the Dean's Office at Stanford was where was the money for these ads going? Is it going to the University, a student or the online news???

I have not asked(yet), but I would imagine that these links demand a TOP price in the commercial area, a run of the site link on a high PR and well respected .org domain like stanford.org
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Old 04-18-2005   #5
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If that is "legit" ad space, should we consider buying space there?

I wonder if someone at Stanford (student, professor, bureaucrat) is personally benefiting from this. I remain skeptical that if Stanford's board of trustees knew about what their newspaper was supporting they might not be too happy about this.
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Old 04-18-2005   #6
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If that is "legit" ad space, should we consider buying space there?
Sure why not?
But, I have sent several emails inquireing as to their prices and avalibility of advertising space and have NEVER received a reply, this leads me to believe that the "ads" are there ONLY to help with SEO and are not "ligit" ad space for sale.

Someone is making a mint off this linking "scam"...

I also don't know what to think, the Dean's office is aware of this but they either don't understand or don't care, cuz the "ads" are still there.
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Old 04-18-2005   #7
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Quote:
In my opinion the entire Stanford online news is a bunch of SE spammers.
Yeh but not very good ones - I did a few quick searches and don't see that their KW link text adverts has much benefit for their "advertisers".

Not the first example I've seen of seemingly "ethical" organisations resorting to spam - have a look at this:

> Seemingly innocent local charity giving business grants to those under the age of 25...http://www.psybt.org.uk/

> Hello 350,000 pages of spam! Wordpress anyone?

As has been brought up in this thread, the question remains whether or not the official body behind the organisation is aware of the questionable content on their site? The spam directory seems to be powered by affiliata, who i've read a few threads about (stuff about agressive spidering) who seem to have registered both domain names as well.

It could be the .org.uk is a front to get some one way inbounds. It could be they are legit and are using the spam directory to generate some cash. Could be their web developer / SEO is running the directory without them knowing about it. Which would you put your money on?

Back to Stanford, at least they aren't hypocrits;

> New software counters growing campus spam

MG
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Old 04-18-2005   #8
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there is a time and place for every link... Stanford daily was most probably a great place to get links from, but once a site goes on the radar your doomed !!

and lets face facts Stanford daily is well and truly on the radar NOW..

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Old 04-18-2005   #9
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I did a few quick searches and don't see that their KW link text adverts has much benefit for their "advertisers".
Oh the links are giving BIG SEO benefits to the linked sites. (sew2002 reported 60 thousand IBLs showing up for a competitor in Yahoo from these guys, and I have seen similar.)

I don't think the Stanford News or any online news service has a need for an SEO.

The more I look at this the more it just smacks of really poor SE and link SPAM.

I guess one way to counter this (as the Stanford administration does not seem to care) is to get on board with other university online news services and buy all the drug and gambling ads you can...
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Old 04-18-2005   #10
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Oh the links are giving BIG SEO benefits to the linked sites. (sew2002 reported 60 thousand IBLs showing up for a competitor in Yahoo from these guys, and I have seen similar.)
I just did a quick Google for a couple of the terms used and didnt see the sites in the top 20 or so. Not a very scientific sample by any accounts!

It is very strange to see sites such as this offering clearly high $$ KW links - I doubt many other Uni's will follow suit - most tend to be whiter than white when it comes to ethics (particularly web related stuff).

It would be interesting to hear some official comments from them though!

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Old 04-18-2005   #11
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I doubt many other Uni's will follow suit
I was being sarcastic
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Old 04-18-2005   #12
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I sent an email to the President of Stanford and I linked this thread. I hope we get some kind of response. I refuse to believe this type of spam is officially sanctioned.

I wouldn't be surprised if the webmaster for the newspaper is pocketing some cash that Stanford is not seeing.
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Old 04-18-2005   #13
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I saw a couple of the sites ranking in the top 2-3 in Google for some of the related queries.

I also made a t shirt
http://www.cafepress.com/seoshop.20914021
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Old 04-18-2005   #14
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You have way too much time on your hands.
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Old 04-18-2005   #15
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I looked into buying links from many of the educational institutions in the US for a client recently - State Univs., Ivy Leagues (Including both Yale & Harvard), Stanford... The only people I couldn't get a price or ad space from was MIT(www-tech.mit.edu/), but they look like they haven't re-designed their site since 1993....

I think it's a good way for college newspapers to make $$ - I see no ethical problem as long as the ads are legitimately targeting readers of the paper. If you're selling Viagra & Cialis, that's fairly legit since a lot of college students pop them to have some fun on a Friday night. If you're selling something college students can't use, like dental office software or something that's unethical or illegal for them to use, like fake thesis papers, then you've got an issue...

BTW - Is it illegal to pop Viagra without a prescription? If so...
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Old 04-18-2005   #16
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I don't see where it matters what a site sells to whom. It may not last as the Engines go out of their way to stop that sort of thing, but really, what is the organisation doing wrong? No publisher ever asks, when you offer them advertising money "Will the advertiser get a positive ROI? IS this ethical as far as Search Engines are concerned??"

They are selling visible advertising space. If the engines want to stop it, that is their business, not the Stanford Daily's.

That said, not sure taking money from these sorts of industries is a good idea, especially when I read things like:
Quote:
Stanford plays slot machines and blackjack daily at established online casinos where black jack and slots are safe and rewarding. Click and enjoy better casinos, higher payouts, and new games
Where ever keyword is a link. Not sure I would want my uni claiming to be a gambling addict!!!
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Old 04-18-2005   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by projectphp
especially when I read things like:
so far my favorite page copy they linked to was literally

bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla
bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla
bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla
bla bla
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Old 04-19-2005   #18
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FYI, I've renamed this thread to make it clearer what it's about and moved it to the Link Building forum, as it goes beyond just Yahoo.
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Old 04-19-2005   #19
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Quote:
I also made a t shirt
Aaron - ROTFL

Send a shirt both to Larry & Sergey..... if that doesn't fix this recent series of 'adjustments' - where there are deemed to be a whole range of 'blessed' sites - and a range of 'doomed' sites - nothing will!!
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Old 04-19-2005   #20
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I just posted an article about the links on the blog: Stanford University's Student Paper & Selling Links. If you're one of our paid SEW members (and thank you, if so), you can clickthrough to the extended version that does a little tour of other university papers selling links and looks at the why behind all this, along with some of the issues involved.

I did get in contact with the Stanford Daily on it. They said they weren't aware of any possible spam issues, but it sounds like they may look again now at whether they should be selling, given the possible public relations issue. They also said:

Quote:
Distorting search results is not and has never been our intention. Our intention has been to make up needed income from classified, subscription and display ad sales lost to the internet through a new, legitimate method of advertising.
FYI, I doubt this is a matter that the university itself can really police. Universities are generally wary of messing with their papers, lest they get accused of violating first amendment issues. Believe me, I was an editor of a campus paper. No one wanted to touch us. Papers are often self-funding. The money is probably being accounted as part of its general ad income, which supports the paper.

The university might decide not to allow the paper to use the .edu domain, however. Interestingly, the paper uses the www.stanforddaily.com domain as the main one promoted on its site. Losing the .edu domain would make it far less attractive to those after links, I would imagine.
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