Cheating on MSN Search & Win
Looks like the vicious SEO community has figured out a way to cheat and win lots of prizes at MSN Search & Win. Enndot posts at Threadwatch:
I discretely pounded MSN with about 10k higher paying keywords and checked the pages for the link using a regex match. This provided me with about 400 keywords that would always throw the link. Even though the probability of winning is about 1:125,000 (sometimes up to 1:2,000,000) for each prize, the overall chance of winning as stated by MSN is about 1:4,000. I think these numbers are very misleading but I’ll get to that a little bit further.
I ran my searches through a proxy at a reasonable speed, lifted the links, and developed a tiny windows app to click a link on the prize link if it showed up. I wasn’t sure about how the prize page would be coded so I just sat back with my Frosted Mini Wheats (bite size of course) and watched for a winner.
Oilman also points out that MSN Search & Win is using the MSN Search old school high rankings technique of keyword stuffing by posting the search terms which lead to winning prizes in their Meta Keyword tag (this is just a small sample of the MSN Search & Win keywords in their source code):
house cleaning, Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, Blockbuster, Home Depot, money, cash, gift certificate, luggage, skin care, makeup, spa, Baby, stroller, toys, golf, gortex, ski, skis, skiis, mountain bike, mountain biking, mountain biker, snowboard, snow board, snow boarder, snowboarder, snow boarding, tennis shoes, electronics, Halo, Halo 2, Plasma, plasma tv, camera, mp3 player, dvr, portable, midcentury, house, storage, storage boxes, target, eco, printer, travel, printer, charity, philanthropy, giving, Netflix, film movement, Consumer Reports, magazine, magazines, Zagat, Theaters, movies, independent films, independent film, independent movies, product ratings, ratings, consumer product ratings, magazine subscription, magazine subscriptions, restaurant guide, movie theaters, house cleaning services, gourmet foods, coffee, Barnes and Noble, Blockbuster movies, home improvement
If it took only about 12 hours for the search community to figure out the secret to MSN Search & Win, then isn’t it quite scary to think which pages are cornering the MSN Search result market with the same ease?
> Update (2/22/2006): Now OILMAN and ThreadWatch have been featured in Time magazine in a piece about Cheating on MSN Search & Win.