Qoogle and Black Hat SEO

I’m researching a story about Black Hat SEO. This is interesting in and of itself, but it is especially interesting in the context of The Quantified Self, as health care web sites keenly eye pharmaceutical revenue as a source of income, and pharma is a key target of black hat SEO. This is a sort of obscure topic to post about here, but I’m doing it because I hope somebody can help enlighten me about Qoogle. I am easy to reach at gary@antephase.com.

Do you know anything about Qoogle? I am not linking to the site directly, because I don’t know what they are up to, and though I suspect it is just a link-farming scheme, it could be something more nefarious. But here are some screenshots.

I searched this morning to check the online commentary about Ryan Sorba, who made some news with his anti-gay rant at the recent CPAC conference.(Andrew Sullivan has an account here.) Here is a screenshot of the first page of results on Google. The text on this image is hard to read, but the third link (pretty good, Mr. Black Hat!) is a web page called Ryan Sorba, and below it is a snippet that contains some “word salad”: Feb 19, 2010 … This brueghel is an ryan sorba of the gipsywort disentangled by jawless oxidization sardinian in the solon, cryogen, and dreaming of …

Ryan Sorba - Google Search.2.24.2010

I’ve been getting this sort of thing quite often when searching on names. If you click on the link, you get to a fake Google page at Qooglesearch.com, showing results for Ryan Sorba that appear to be scrapped from Google, along with two “sponsored links” from “flashbuzz.net” at the top. I assumed that these sponsored links were the payload, but on subsequent clicks they have disappeared. Another link associated with Qoogle appears to be imasion-corp.com. There is an intermediate link that appears also: tdss… – but it is hard to catch and I didn’t get it.

Below is an image of the Qooglesearch page.

Qooglesearch.com.Ryan+Sorba

Sort of convincing as a Google page, if you aren’t paying too much attention.

But the best image comes from clicking on the “cached” link under the Qoogle “Ryan Sorba” entry on the original Google search page. That shows you what Qoogle is showing the Google Bot as it surfs the web. Colorful!

Qoogle.Ryan sorba_CACHED2.24.2010

Well, it may be just another case of “pissing in the pool” as Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster calls it. But I’d like to know more about Qoogle, and if you have any tips, please send them along.

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