Spammers in a Cut-throat Industry.

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It’s not that easy being a website publisher.

One of my newest sites is 4 Laser Hair Removal. I spent roughly $2000 launching this site. The content is 100% unique, I want to turn this site into the defacto resource for laser hair removal information on the Internet. What do I get out of this? Copycats, in fact I’m sure by blogging about it I’ll get even more.

Additionally, my site is having a problem getting listed in Google. The subpages, such as category pages and articles, are listed fine. With PageRank’s of 5 or 6 as reported in the Google toolbar. The homepage though has maintained a PageRank of 0 and is not listed. I’ve sent in a reinclusion request to Google, but so far no response. This site has certainly never broken any rules, so I didn’t understand what the problem was to begin with.

So today I’m doing some checking, and one way to see if your site is penalized or not is to search for the site’s actual name and see if it shows up. So I try that with this search. (If you don’t see the same thing I see, that means Google has acted on my spam complaints). I’m not listed, but the #2 listing is cgi.tripod.com/hair-removal-product/cgi-bin/index.pl and if you click that link it forwards to http://www.hair-removal-products.net/. See a similarity?

You can also do a Google link search on the redirecting URL and see that this spammer runs a whole network of cloaked sites, and while most of them I’m sure don’t infringe on my sites, I bet they’re infringing on someone’s.

Normally I don’t care that much about copycats, afterall copycats are a way of life and most of my sites have been copied by uninspired imitation publishers at one time or another. However in this case I really think that this spammer is seriously hurting me. The fact is my site fails to rank on it’s own name and is apparently penalized, but this spammer is #2? I can only assume that Google is confused and is punishing me for the actions of this cloaker. This guy is also using Adsense, but lets hope he gets kicked out since I’m sure Google doesn’t mean to be supporting someone who is spamming their search engine.

There are some people out there who are very secretive about their websites, they don’t share them, they don’t announce them, they don’t link to them from forum signatures. I’ve never been that type of person because for the most part copycats never do anything as good as the original and so they aren’t really a threat. But if things like this continue I might just turn into one of those people unfortunately.

The moral of this story is, strongly consider whether or not you should announce your new site to other webmasters, and also always be vigilant in tracking down content thiefs, it happens more often than you might think. I haven’t even been purposely looking for such people and yet I’ve sent out three DMCA Complaints in the last 36 hours.

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  • http://www.deronsizemore.com deronsizemore

    Man, that is crazy! A lot of copycats make a site that looks similar, but that site is an exact replica of yours! I don’t even understand the drive in someone to do such a thing. (Ohh wait…I do, it’s money right?) I mean how can someone sit at a computer and say “hmm…I like this site, I think I’ll steal everything about it, slap some ads on there and hopefully no one catches me and I make some loot.” People need to be a little more creative.

  • http://www.websitepublisher.net aspen

    You know what else… I’ve also had referrers in my logs from Rentacoder. Such as this.

    I can only assume that the spammer hired someone there to copy it.

  • Gator99

    It sounds like your problem is from “scrapers” not “spammers”. Some consider putting links in your forum signature “spamming”. Adsense is a pretty good revenue source for content sites, but it seems the basic point of this site is to blend adwords into the content.

  • http://www.websitepublisher.net aspen

    No, its not a scraper. The guy is cloaking his sites, which is spam, and is copying my design, which is infringement.

  • http://www.vitaleffect.com Gamermk

    The level of copying in this one is just gross.

  • http://www.realityedge.com.au mrsmiley

    I’ve only stumbled across this type of blatant copying once before and purely by accident. Was applying for a job, so did some research on their site only to find that it looked extremely familar. Turns out they completely ripped the design (almost 100%, at least it was only a partial rip mentioned above) of an actual design website. I notified them that they were violating copyright laws on that and they gave me a job interview in return. Didn’t get the job, but for a consulting firm that lands jobs no smaller than 6 figures and only for large multi-natinoals and government agencies, it’s a wonder they aren’t concerned about it as their site still looks the same. Sometimes its not just about money, sometimes its just because people are lazy.

  • http://www.realityedge.com.au mrsmiley

    BTW, your “friend” is now ranking 3rd. Seems to have slipped a position over night.

  • http://www.search-this.com Golgotha

    Chris, is that a template? I have seen sites look the same because they use the same template before…

    I have had sites rip off entire tools from my site and place them on their own complete with my email address on it :) The worst is when they are in China and you can’t do a thing about it…

  • photo312

    well one thing about Google is – if you pay them money for AdSense than they will rank your page higher.

    The guy who copied you knows this. He is a pro cloaker. I think he copied your html and pasted and in between he added a table row for google ads, so that he makes money every time someone clicks on them

    And since the copycats site has no real content, people will be clicking on ads and making him money ;)

    dis is some funny sh…..t

  • Anonymous

    Hey Chris

    What is Jalic?
    Could you maybe elaborate which tools/sources you used to made this website. I mean things you didn’t do yourself. For instance hire a designer use this premade script etc. etc.

    Great article :)

    Cheers,
    Thierry

  • aneitlich

    Chris,

    I once made the acquaintance of a somewhat shady colleague from New Jersey who had this motto: “Never F— with another person’s livelihood.” You don’t want to know how he would deal with the guilty parties mentioned here.

    I would be interested in learning more about DMCA complaints and other avenues that you use to protect yourself, and how effective and speedy they are.

    Otherwise, we may need to involve people like this former acquaintance to resolve matters like this:)

  • http://www.dangrossman.info Dan Grossman

    When I find someone who has stolen either the layout or content of one of my sites, which happens a few times a year I’m aware of, I send DMCA complaints to the individual and his/her web host. I also find out where the physical server is at if the web host is a small company renting out of one of the bigger data centers (by looking up IPs of nameservers usually).

    To date, while most of the “site owners” never responded, every web host has responded by taking down the sites after comparing to the originals (mine).

  • http://www.search-this.com Golgotha

    Dan, I have done the same, but when they are in China or India, as has happenend to me a number of times, good luck…

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  • http://www.napathon.net/ vinyl-junkie

    You know what else… I’ve also had referrers in my logs from Rentacoder. Such as this.

    When I clicked on the Rentacoder link you gave, it put up a screen that said “You do not have permission to view this.” Seems that Rentacoder may have been advised of the illegality of the project and shut it down.

  • Ahmad

    “When I clicked on the Rentacoder link you gave, it put up a screen that said “You do not have permission to view this.” Seems that Rentacoder may have been advised of the illegality of the project and shut it down. ”

    Its either a legality issue, as you pointed out, or the person who asked for the work turned the bid request into an autoprivatized request. Meaning; after the client selects a person to complete his work, nobody except for teh concerned parties can view the request. The feature comes in handy if you are trying to keep things hush…and as in this case, when doing something shady.

    hope this clears things a bit. Cheers!

  • bugsnot

    The worst part is the spammer never loses. It takes him no time to rob you of your hard work, so if his spam is removed via DMCA he’s lost nothing. You spend more time sending the DMCA complaint than he spends ripping off the next site.

    Am I right? Ugh.