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Google Image Search Spamming in Action : Hawaii Pictures

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Google Image Search Spamming in Action : Hawaii Pictures

Received an email today via a private discussion group about some hotlinking and Google Image spamming for the term “hawaii pictures.” If you search for the term on Google, you’ll see that Google is serving three image results above its normal web results.

Hawaii Pictures

A mouseover on the images results in some fishy target URL’s (truncated for publishing purposes) :

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~junliu/Photos/hawaii.jpg
&imgrefurl=http://www.hawaiispecialoffers.com/&h=676&w=576

After clicking on the images, you’ll see that the user is taken to parked domains where the images are not even present; but plenty of Google AdSense ads are. One of the images is being pulled in or ‘hot linked’ from a Harvard.edu website somehow to a parked domain.

Hawaii Pictures : Hawaii Specials

So, how are these spammers gaming Google? My buddy Everett stepped in to explain :

The folks over at http://www.hawaiispecialoffers.com/ are hot linking to an image from people.fas.harvard.edu so Google is showing you the hawaiispecialoffers.com domain in the iframe, but if you click to see the actual picture on it’s URL you go to the Harvard subdomain. Normal, but I hate bandwidth thieves who are to damn lazy to just save the file and upload to their own server.

But then another group member replied:

Yes… But… The image is nowhere to be found on HawaiiSpecialOffers.com

They have hot-linked an image from Harvard.edu to get a parked domain in the top position in Google… Without even displaying the image on the website.

I don’t see the image on the page, or even a link to it in the source code. But… There it is, driving traffic to a parked domain for a competitive keyword.

Two out of three of the images displayed in the results page use this technique. (Whatever it is)

Harvard.edu also has much more Google Juice than some parked domain, so by piggybacking the Harvard.edu domain, the images are appearing as top images in Google search. This is a popular keyterm and the image search spam is driving users to Google AdSense arbitrage/spam sites, where users are probably clicking on these ads. A classic Google AdSense scenario.

Does anyone know how this is being done and hey Matt Cutts, can’t Google do something to stop this trickery?

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Loren Baker

Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing ... [Read full bio]

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