Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Target.com's Aggressive SEO Tactic Spams Google

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the wide-of-the-mark dept.

The Internet 241

eldavojohn writes "Greg Niland is blogging about target.com's aggressive near-spam search engine optimization, and is more than a little critical not only of how this affects the most popular search engine, but also why it will probably persist. If you want an example, search for 'Exercise Bike Clearance' and click the first link."

cancel ×

241 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Could have made it a link (2, Informative)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533362)

Re:Could have made it a link (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533372)

fag

Re:Could have made it a link (0, Offtopic)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533374)

What? Disappointed are you?

Re:Could have made it a link (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533518)

It's more fun to reply to interesting trolls... that wasn't really one of them. :)

I assume they didn't make a search link in the article to underline the fact this search spamming is pervasive beyond the confines of one (carefully chosen?) link.

Re:Could have made it a link (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533376)

homo

Re:Could have made it a link (2, Interesting)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533802)

My first result is http://www.fitness-equipment-clearance.co.uk/

What is the problem here?

Re:Could have made it a link (1)

LtCol Burrito (1698596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533836)

What you saw were the "sponsored links" that usually appear above the actual search results. The reason Target didn't appear in the sponsored links is because they obviously didn't pay enough to Google to target (forgive pun) that particular combination of words. If you go down about 3 links, you should see the Target links.

Re:Could have made it a link (2, Informative)

mlk (18543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533964)

Or Inda used google.co.uk [google.co.uk] , which does return fitness equipment clearance first and Target second.

Re:Could have made it a link (2, Insightful)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534124)

Ah correct. .co.uk for me.

And c'mon LtCol Burrito, do you honestly beleive I don't know the difference between sponsored links and actual results? I'm not new to this internet thingy.

Re:Could have made it a link (4, Funny)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534080)

I tried site:target.com we could not find matches for [google.com] and the third option was Anal Massage for Lovers Vol 2 [target.com] .

I wasn't aware that Target marketed to this demographic.

Re:Could have made it a link (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534162)

What's interesting is " Results 1 - 10 of about 14,800,000 from target.com for "We could not find matches for" "

So this is really huge seo spamming.

Re:Could have made it a link (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534194)

Correction, it's not really seo spamming, there's a good explanation [slashdot.org] further in discussion.

Re:Could have made it a link (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533812)

Well I can report that I tried it in both Bing (got Durham Sports) and in Yahoo (got Overstock.com) so apparently this BS is only being done in Google. I guess this just gives me one more reason for keeping my Yahoo search over Google.

I never did get why folks liked Google search over Yahoo search anyway. The "more" tab (the little blue down arrow under the search box) is just too damned handy. You get used to having the more tab and pretty soon other search engines will just drive you nuts. I just hope when MSFT takes over the backend they don't fuck it up like they do everything else web related, as not having my more tab would really suck.

Re:Could have made it a link (2, Interesting)

jabbathewocket (1601791) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534014)

The thing is.. this is an article about over SEO pages designed to 'game' google's pageranking.. obviously its not gonna work on yahoo or bing.. since they use different algorithms , and frankly given google's market share its obvious that marketers would game it.. same way malware writers tend to aim for the low hanging fruit that is MS windows or IE. Google search won vs Yahoo because it was far more inclusive of more pages (there was a time when yahoo was still a directory edited by hoomans) they also had this lovely bit of not being a slow loading page full of ads and other shit that people didnt want or need to see when they wanted to search quickly.. In fact the rise of Google as defacto search engine pretty much mirror's IE rise.. they may not have been "the best" but they where always the least "bad" of the bunch.

Re:Could have made it a link (1)

nadaou (535365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533882)

Interestingly if you change the search phrase to "unsafe exercise bike clearance [google.com] " Target drops down to the fourth hit on the list.

Easy response (5, Informative)

bl968 (190792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533370)

At the bottom of every Google Search result page is a link titled Dissatisfied? Help us improve. Click it. Tell them the link is spam. Google ends up filtering them out of the search results, and we all win!

Re:Easy response (5, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533386)

I hope every slashdotter reading your comment takes your advice. Target deserves to be slammed for that.

Re:Easy response (5, Funny)

farlukar (225243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533502)

As if slashdotters would search for exercise bikes...

Re:Easy response (5, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533814)

Of course they do. But only to install Linux on them.

Re:Easy response (2, Interesting)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533406)

I just removed it and commented that Target.com was spamming Google. I added that I found this on Slashdot.

I wonder if the slashdot effect works with this?

Re:Easy response (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533708)

I just removed it and commented that Target.com was spamming Google.

Then you're a moron. Target is not spamming google, google is spamming Target with search queries taken from what users are searching google for, then indexing the results. This way google can 'see' a little bit into sites that have information only easily accessible from searching.

You sheeple need to stop and think before you automatically assume google's side and blame others.

Re:Easy response (3, Insightful)

netsharc (195805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533772)

I don't think it works that way... no way Google would hammer a site by forwarding queries that its users have entered.. for one thing target.com would go up in smokes a few seconds after such a mode is activated.

Maybe target's got a database of what its customers have queried in its own search pages, and created a page somewhere with "failed queries: [1] [2] [3]", and it let Google visit [1], [2], and [3], entering those pages into its Borg-mainframe..

Re:Easy response (3, Insightful)

LordAndrewSama (1216602) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533956)

I did the same thing, but when I went to the bottom of the page found this from google trends:

16th most popular search in the past hour.

Re:Easy response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534086)

I did the same thing, but when I went to the bottom of the page found this from google trends:

16th most popular search in the past hour.

7th most popular now.

Re:Easy response (1)

Acecoolco (1012419) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533444)

But its 15 million spam links !!!

Re:Easy response (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533712)

I know Google is a big company, but you don't think it's remotely possible that they might - just might - start to notice a pattern after the first few hundred reports of search engine spam concerning a single domain?

Re:Easy response (3, Informative)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533766)

Maybe if there were such a pattern.

Try exercise equipment clearance. Not Target.
exercise machine clearance
Heck, even "exercise bike" and "exercise bike sale" doesn't lead to Target.

Hell, the example on their page is a site speficic search site:target.com "We could not find matches for"

Re:Easy response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533916)

funny, typing in "exercise bike" for site:slashdot.org also returns "We could not find matches for"

Re:Easy response (1, Insightful)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533470)

The best way to help Google improve is to use another search engine. Blacklists don't work.

Making Google understand that good alternatives exist is the only way to force them to improve, for example...

Exercise Bike Clearance [bing.com]

Re:Easy response (3, Informative)

ricree (969643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533670)

I disagree. While using another search engine certainly gives google and inventive to improve the search, it doesn't really help them to do it.

People switch services for all sorts of reasons. Fashion, apathy (if, say, they switch computers and it has a different default engine), etc. Dissatisfaction is just one reason, and since the process of leaving is silent, they have little enough way to tell why.

Reporting the trouble to them gives them the reason you're dissatisfied in a way that switching doesn't. Of course, they're always free to ignore it, but at least if they do then switching can be an incentive for them to improve rather than an enigma they have to puzzle out.

Acronym (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533694)

Bing??? Bah! I'm Not Going there.

Re:Easy response (2, Interesting)

LtCol Burrito (1698596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533852)

(Sorry, my friend, I just have to go here)

OK, so you want us to stick it to the big monopolistic corporation by using....Bing?? Way to fight for the little guy!! Stickin it to the man!!

Re:Easy response (2, Funny)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534026)

Bing! Are you sure that even searches the same internet? :-)

Re:Easy response (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533496)

Well, it is easy, but before we all do this, we should consider who the article writer is. The article is written by an SEO'er, and I can only guess that they are trying to compete on some terms for which Target currently outranks them. Why would we work to hinder one company's SEO work just to help another SEO'er?

The entire article is just the complaining of a butthurt SEO'er because they couldn't get their own terms to rank. This shouldn't have even made Slashdot, since this isn't supposed to be the trolling ground for Internet Marketers.

Re:Easy response (-1, Offtopic)

Rebelgecko (893016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533532)

Posting because I accidently modded parent overrated.
Anyways, I too told Google it was spam

Re:Easy response (-1, Offtopic)

Plunky (929104) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533624)

You don't need to reply to the post you wrongly moderated to undo the moderation. Neither do you need to use your karma bonus to make sure that your comment is ranked highly to start with. If you must correct your stupidity in this way, do not compound it, reply to the story directly and click the 'No Karma Bonus' button so that your drivel is lost in the noise down on page 2 which nobody ever reads. Even better would be to make a proper contribution, you have a karma bonus in the first place so I guess you are capable of it and you did have an interest in the story at least.

tl;dr We don't want to see your useless apologies at the top of the comments.

Re:Easy response (1)

El Jynx (548908) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533628)

True enough. Also, doesn't Google frown on that sort of thing? Give it a little publicity and one of Google's engineers might just decide to get medieval on their portly rotund segments.

Re:Easy response (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533720)

Target is quite likely a [potential] advertiser with Google... I wouldn't be so sure they would be so quick to push back against big money like Target.com.

Google's integrity is all it has as an advertiser, but it is still an advertiser.

Re:Easy response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533758)

Thanks for the tip!

What's to stop the spammers ... (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533886)

from spamming the dissatisfied feature or even abusing it to remove competitors? The former might make it harder to filter out the true complaints and the latter hurts businesses in general.

Re:Easy response (2, Insightful)

oreaq (817314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534044)

Or get the CustomizeGoogle plugin and simply remove target.com from all Google search results.

Re:Easy response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534054)

Google shouldn't care about this. They don't give a damn about the SEO spam from the rip off report (which itself is a not-at-all-disguised extortion program masquarading as a customer advocacy site). In fact, they should do with Target what they do with the rip off report. They should promote the results to the top of the pages, while the other search engines bury them for the bad behavior (directly and SEO spam /engine abuse wise).

I see what you did there... (1)

Centurix (249778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533380)

You obviously work for the ONLINE FITNESS CLEARANCE STORE. Attempting to get a health equipment store slashdotted would seem like an impossible task.

BREWERY CLEARANCE STORE, now there's a Google search worth submitting. I'll be in my car driving to the Plank Road Brewery. Thanks.

Re:I see what you did there... (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533780)

Especially when their example of target flooding google with false hits is a site speficic search of target.

The is the link they are showing at the bottem of the article

http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Atarget.com+ [google.com] "We+could+not+find+matches+for"

haha (2, Interesting)

isaac.anthony (1700676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533382)

Re:haha - Mod up! (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533506)

I came here to report the same thing! “Anal Massage for Lovers Vol 2” Wow.

Re:haha (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533528)

Okay the google.com search for that query points to both Amazon and Target. Did target actually give a page containing those search terms to the google bot? Why would they do that?

Is there a big generic library of "stuff people buy" which SEO companies use to send traffic to their clients sites?

Re:haha (5, Informative)

supersat (639745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533568)

Google for link:http://www.target.com/gp/search/ref=sr_bmvd_redirect?field-keywords=Anal%20Massage%20for%20Lovers%20Vol%202&url=index%3Dtarget%26search-alias%3Dtgt-index. Six sites are linking to it! It's showing up in Google's results because people are linking to it.

Of course, the story is a bit trickier than that. People are linking to an old product URL (Target sometimes has humorous products on their site), which Target redirects to a search page when they no longer carry the product. Google indexes this redirect and treats both URLs as the roughly the same (you'll notice that the links you find above point to a product URL, not the search result URL).

In many cases, this is a reasonable thing to do. People point to content they care about. They usually don't care what the exact URL is. If the URL changes, they likely still care about the original content. Target's redirection breaks this assumption, but I'm not sure there's a straight-forward fix. Perhaps they could return a 404 response (with the same content) when redirecting from a broken product URL?

Re:haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533988)

instead of redirecting externally, the request should be redirected internally using mod_rewrite or something similar... then google only indexes 1 copy. having multiple urls point to the same content devalues all urls pointing to the content. target is probably large enough in other factors (such as external linking) that this doesn't deter their results from making #1 positions.

Re:haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534024)

Matches for anal massage? They must be really tight assed at Target.

Target, or Amazon? (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533398)

The "target.com" online store is run by Amazon for Target, not by the company that does the brick and mortar stores. (Long story.)

So which of them is doing this? If it's Amazon, it's not exactly surprising -- spammers, patent trolls, and "search engine optimizers" sound like pretty much related categories.

Re:Target, or Amazon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533560)

Actually it doesn't matter if it's Target or Amazon, it is being done in Target's name and Target has full controll over that. It should be of concern to Target because it will lead to ticked off consumers, consumers that will take their money and business elsewhere after the've had enough.

Meh (0, Troll)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533412)

Target employs SEO. For a company their size that's diligence. Now list companies in the Fortune 500 that neither know nor care about SEO and report back how much that's costing the shareholders.

Extra points if you mention HP whose web technologies are for a technology company nothing short of incredible.

Re:Meh (4, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533452)

Please explain to me why should I care about shareholder value when trying (and failing) to find a product with Google.

Meh, indeed.

If you can't find a product with Google (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533514)

Then you're doing it wrong. How can you not find things with Google? I Google everything, and it never lets me down.

Now back to the topic: SEO maximizes shareholder value by claiming high-ranking positions in the search engine namespace for brands. In as much as ownership of mindshare is a symbol game, to ignore the main vehicle used by cash-ready consumers to find their heart's desire is high idiocy. It does not serve the shareholders, nor the board.

Re:If you can't find a product with Google (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533728)

It only maximises shareholder value for the spammer (but does pushing an empty search page really benefit them in any way?), but it doesn't maximise shareholder value for anyone else. It hurts Google, it hurts other sites indexed by Google, and it hurts me trying to find more meaningful results than Target's empty search page.

FTFY (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533610)

Target dumps toxic waste off the Ivory Coast. For a company their size that's diligence. Now list companies in the Fortune 500 that neither know nor care about inexpensive toxic waste disposal and report back how much that's costing the shareholders.

Re:Meh (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533718)

Extra points if you mention HP whose web technologies are for a technology company nothing short of incredible.

I'm not sure if you mean that in a good way or a bad way...

SEO'er complaining about competitions SEO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533416)

So an SEO'er is complaining because someone else is ranking higher for some SEO terms. I bet the article write was paid to optimize some pages and couldn't get them higher than Target's, so he is trying a different approach to knock Target down.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. Why is Slashdot even giving a link to an SEO'er for this lame article?

How are these getting indexed? (5, Insightful)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533422)

The big question is how are these pages getting indexed? Generating them isn't wrong but there should be no links to them.

Re:How are these getting indexed? (1)

hclewk (1248568) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533488)

A Sitemap?

Re:How are these getting indexed? (5, Informative)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533490)

Generating them is wrong, according to Google [google.com] :

Quality guidelines - basic principles

  • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as "cloaking."
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"
  • Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or "bad neighborhoods" on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.
  • Don't use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold(TM) that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.

Quality guidelines - specific guidelines

  • Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
  • Don't use cloaking or sneaky redirects.
  • Don't send automated queries to Google.
  • Don't load pages with irrelevant keywords.
  • Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
  • Don't create pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware.
  • Avoid "doorway" pages created just for search engines, or other "cookie cutter" approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
  • If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.

Emphasis mine, on the areas that Target is plainly and obviously not following. There's a bunch of other stuff listed which they might be doing as well, but I can't be bothered to look into it any further at the moment.

Re:How are these getting indexed? (2, Funny)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533508)

Well, that makes it "undesirable to Google" rather than "wrong".

Re:How are these getting indexed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533608)

However with continued flagrant disregard to those guidelines Google will ultimately remove the domain from their search engine, Google wants to keep their customers happy too, and the result will be that the world's largest search engine will be searching everybody’s web pages but yours.

Re:How are these getting indexed? (2, Interesting)

jrumney (197329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533618)

I don't see how they are breaking any of those terms.

It seems to me that they used to have a page for Exercise Bike Clearance which ranked highly for whatever reason. Now that the promotion is over, the page no longer exists and requests for it end up going to a lame search engine that can't even direct users to the page for full price Exercise Bikes, which would at least help target to sell something instead of annoying users and sending them straight for the back button. The fact that Google is still indexing it with the old ranking is Google's problem.

Re:How are these getting indexed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534132)

The right thing to do would be to add NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX" to all the negative search results. That should cause them to disappear from google rather quickly.

Re:How are these getting indexed? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533734)

Please learn what you're talking about: these aren't generated. Example:
http://www.target.com/gp/search?ie=UTF8&index=target&field-browse=1038626&rh=k%3Aadolf%20from%20slashdot [target.com] will give a page claiming that the search had no results. This is exactly the same as, say:
http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=aosdnfons+foasnfo+nafonwefoawenfowng&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 [google.com] which ALSO has no results.

So, sometime in the past, someone searched for 'exercise bike' in the clearance section of target. Then they posted about it, and google found that, and indexed the page. Then the item went away, and google.. kept indexing the link. There's no irrelevant keywords here, no hidden text, no hidden links, and the page DOES help users, since coincidentally, it's a search results page correctly informing people of the results. Yes, that's right, the top result for 'exercise bike clearance' is a search results page from someone else's search engine; in this case it just happens to be target.com's search engine.

There is NO indication that Target did anything wrong here, I don't understand why no one has noticed that yet.

Re:How are these getting indexed? (5, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533800)

Dear AC,

If you'd R'd the FA, you'd have noticed this: http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Atarget.com+%22We+could+not+find+matches+for%22 [google.com] .

Therein, are some 14 million dead links which land on Target's do-nothing search page.

Will you really have me believe that target.com has been linked to for over 14 million specific products which they no longer sell?

Not even Newegg, who tends to keep old product pages around for ages after they've stopped selling an item, has this problem: http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=site%3Anewegg.com+%22this+product+is+no+longer+available%22 [google.com] tops out at a perfectly believable 149,000 hits.

Really. 14 million?

FFS: Something here stinks.

Re:How are these getting indexed? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533860)

Not even Newegg, who tends to keep old product pages around for ages after they've stopped selling an item, has this problem: http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=site%3Anewegg.com+%22this+product+is+no+longer+available%22 [google.com] tops out at a perfectly believable 149,000 hits.

Really. 14 million?

FFS: Something here stinks.

Yes, but what stinks here is either your math or your sense of proportion. NewEgg had .149 million to Target's 14 million, over 1%. If 149,000 is believable for NewEgg, why isn't 14 million believable for Target? Surely you aren't under the delusion that NewEgg carries more than 1% of the number of products or does 1% of the business Target does, are you? NewEgg in their wildest dreams isn't 1% as big as Target...

Re:How are these getting indexed? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534062)

NewEgg in their wildest dreams isn't 1% as big as Target...

It's too bad newegg is private. I'd love to dispute that 1% figure.

http://www.google.com/finance?q=Newegg+Target [google.com]

Re:How are these getting indexed? (4, Interesting)

will_die (586523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534106)

There is also major difference between newegg and target.
For newegg to keep around old products is a boon for me since I can quickly check the specs of products I previously purchased from them. If I want to purchase new memory or a new processor I can easly see what currently have and what kind of new product I need. A decent amount of parts resellers tend to also do this.
For Target to keep around old items provides no real value. If someone is looking for an old product the stores are better off to direct them to we do not sell them anymore and have a bunch of pictures and links to products they do sell now and are the replacement for the item the person is looking for.
So like you say there is something messed up with Target keeping that many products around. Also if you go to target.com and do search you don't get that page, you get nice page where they cross out the various searched for words and show you examples of want those new search would provide.

Re:How are these getting indexed? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533808)

I don't buy that. Legitimate people (i.e. not SEOers) are supposed to have put 15 million DIFFERENT links to failed Target searches somewhere, often enough for Google to rank them so high?

Plus, it's not only target's search engine that does this. I get increasingly more Google results from other search engine's "not found" or "generic non-content landing site" pages. In my opinion this is intentional SEO spam.

It's not first here (1)

t_little (91171) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533446)

When I search for that on Google, I get the mentioned company fourth in the non-sponsored links.

Re:It's not first here (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533536)

Same here with google.com.au but target.com is first if I specify google.com

Re:It's not first here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533616)

He try to avoid naming them so they dont get further indexing and you screwed it all!
Parent is a idiot. please mod down so it become hidden from google...

Re:It's not first here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533756)

please mod down so it become hidden from google...

Google too is only browsing Slashdot with +5 threshold? ;)

Re:It's not first here (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533778)

+2 I think.

Roadmap (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533460)

  1. bombing Google with spam
  2. Getting /. publicity because of the spamming
  3. ???
  4. Profit!!1!

Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533530)

Well, I'm pretty annoyed that areyoutargeted.com is second to target.com in some searches.

Grrr!

Spammy words bring spam results (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533564)

Is anyone really surprised that the amount and ranking of spam goes up when you include spammy terms like "clearance" in your search?

I have found the solution!... (4, Funny)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533602)

But is on expect-exchange.

Re:I have found the solution!... (0)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533646)

I never understood the expert-s-exchange.com business model.

You have to pay to view the answer ... but only if you're too stupid or lazy to scroll to the bottom?
Someone obviously was having problems though, because I once saw a diagram of the site, and instructions on how to scroll to the answer.

Re:I have found the solution!... (1)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534192)

You have to pay to view the answer ... but only if you're too stupid or lazy to scroll to the bottom?

I wondered that too in the past, but then someone here pointed out that the answers are only visible when you follow a link from a search engine. Visiting the page from a non-search engine, searching EE, or going from a bookmark doesn't show the answers. It's not real hard to circumvent if you want to, but not the most convenient either.

Obviously not intentional (5, Interesting)

Temporal (96070) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533650)

This is obviously not intentional. If it were intentional, Target would be providing decent landing pages. For instance, Target actually sells exercise bikes. If they were intentionally spamming the term "exercise bike", why on earth would they be doing it with an error page rather than provide an actual exercise bike page? That doesn't make any sense.

As for Google, I think it's a safe bet that they have zero interest in having these crappy results in their result list. There's probably some sort of bug affecting this. Perhaps Target recently changed their site and, in so doing, broke a ton of links that were perfectly valid before? If so then my guess is that these will disappear after a short time, once the ranking system catches up.

Never attribute to malice that which is better explained by incompetence.

Re:Obviously not intentional (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533704)

I think the bigger problem is that Google's algorithm puts so much trust into big name domains like Target now that something like this could happen.

Re:Obviously not intentional (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533824)

I'm convinced that it's intentional. Several - mostly shady - sites are doing it, i.e. pretend there's a search result for your generic terms. Some just say "not found, but try our other crap", while others create pages that actually contain the terms you were looking for with links that lead somewhere totally unrelated.

As for the "exercise bike" example and why there is no specific landing page, judging from the sheer volume of "not found" pages, they most likely use some sort of dictionary. It's easier to simply spam millions of term combinations. They want people to end up on their site, no matter what.

Re:Obviously not intentional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533848)

I don't know. It is like free advertising for Target's web site. It may not be for exercise bikes-but it does allow the user once on Targets page to then try a slightly different term in Targets search box like just bikes. That then means Targets makes money if they go through with the purchase. Sounds like it is just very clever.

Re:Obviously not intentional (2, Insightful)

whencanistop (1224156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533940)

I'm going to go with you on the unintentional options here. But it probably means that someone at Target hasn't really worked out what is going on yet. I mean - there are some quite sophisticated tracking technologies going on there, someone should know that there are people arriving at these random searching pages from Google and then working out if they actually sell anything from it. If people then click through to the actual exercise bike pages and buy stuff, then it will probably look like it is profitable and will discourage them from removing it. Whilst you may think getting them pointed at the 'correct' landing page might lead to higher conversions, it may possibly be that by sending them to the search pages even for things they don't sell, they make more money, because they get visits for things they wouldn't do normally.

Although it would make more sense if they noidnexed those search results pages, to be fair.

Re:Obviously not intentional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534188)

Or they just aren't that good. Hanlon's Razor? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon%27s_razor

Not Spam - use some common sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533788)

This is not spamming. Google has indexed their search pages (valid) but they are not static and so they fail. The google link is to "clearance" items, and there are no clearance bikes. Why would target want people clicking links that tell visitors that they don't carry that stock? I think a little common sense before accusatory blogging would have been a good idea here. Feel free to debate whether indexing of search results pages is a good thing.

Page rank is broke. (1)

Garrynz (904755) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533822)

Page rank is broke and to be honest it always has been. "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page".

Seems fixed already (1)

talexb (223672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533862)

And I get 'http://www.alexa.com/hoturls?q=exercise bike clearance' which links to 'http://www.goodroi.com/why-google-allows-target-com-to-spam-results/', a post dated December 10, 2009 (thirteen days ago).

No biggie.

Search engines should be more interchangeable (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533890)

Google is a great search engine that is liked by a lot of people. However, too much power in the hands of one company is undesirable, as we all know.
For example, when the service starts to break down, like in this instance.

Therefore, I believe that search engines should be made more interchangeable, just like other products, e.g., email programs (gmail vs. yahoo), processors (Intel vs AMD), etc.
Google is commoditizing the software world, which is a good thing (well not for some developers), but search engines should be just as interchangeable. In some respect, search engines are already interchangeable, since you can just go to any other search site (yahoo, etc.). However, it turns out that users do not easily make the switch. This has to do (mostly, I think) with user-experience.

So how can we improve the situation? By allowing the user to have the same (or almost the same) experience independent of the chosen search engine.
This can be achieved by having an open search API that can be accessed by web-browsers (or third-party websites), so that the user-interface is decoupled from the search-engine. Such an API should implement things like "give me the first 10 search results for some query", "give me a cached version", "give me similar links", etc.

Of course, major search engines would not easily switch to such a method, since their influence on the user would be restricted by that (they cannot anymore control the placement of ads, other than in the search result list). However, the smaller search engines (altavista, yahoo, bing) could start to support such a scheme, and cooperate with browser implementors (mozilla), to gain more market share.

Slight adjustment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30533948)

Check out the first link that comes up when you alter the example search just the slightest bit - type into a google text field:

[site:target.com "could not find matches for"] and you get this (NSFW on that first link) [google.com] .

- I doubt they meant for that to happen.

Google problem only - not Bing (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 4 years ago | (#30533950)

Chalk one up for Bing

Re:Google problem only - not Bing (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534118)

but the top link for bing is also a landing page of no products found "Coming soon!"

SEO spams Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534056)

Isn't that the whole point of SEO? If your site has useful content and you want good pagerank, just write well-structured, accessible HTML with a sitemap and spread the news. If your site is spam, use SEO. "But", says [google.com] , "you can also risk damage to your site and reputation".

Oh, clever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534100)

exercise bike clearance
- Add to iGoogle Trends chart graph
7th most popular search in the past hour.

Hotness:Spicy
google.com/trends

Way to go, Fitness Equipment Clearance (whatever that is).

New way to game the search engine. (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534130)

For both google and bing the auto suggest for "exercise bik" now comes up with "exercise bike clearance" as the top results. Pushing out the obvious top search choice of "exercise bikes"

It's already gone (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534148)

This article is only 10 minutes old, and I do not see any of the aforementioned results clicking that link.

The only results I get about "Excersize bike clearance" are all about how Target is spamming search engines! Interesting...

There isn't a link to target in the first 50 results.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>