Publishers Report a Spam Exploit in Google


Staff member

A WebmasterWorld discussion brought to light a manipulative spam technique that was reported to be flourishing in Google. It involves competitors creating fake review sites to rank in Google. These review sites not only promote their own products, a publisher is reporting that the fake sites are also saying bad things and giving poor reviews.

The spam technique consists of creating fake product review sites created by the sellers of the products that are being reviewed. It was reported that some of the sites spread negative information about competitor products.

WebmasterWorld Member Selen stated:
“Several competitors have created “review” websites where they feature a dozen of their own sister sites from the same business niche. These sites have an order form that is processed by the same (their own) company. To make it look “legit,” they added a couple of real competitors to the “review list” (with lower “ratings” of course).
They wrote 100% fake reviews of their own services and attributed a scale from 1-10. Top 10 sites have “rating” between 9.1 and 10 (and they own all of them). The “ratings” are 100% fake and bogus.
Google happily shows domains and fake ratings in the answer box on a very competitive term (eg. best {service}). It’s been going on for years, but now their dishonest efforts pay even more.”
Another member named samwest responded:
“…blackhat still pays and Google is still none the wiser.”
WebmasterWorld member Milchan added:
“my niche is dominated now by one competitor that does exactly what you are describing and I know for a fact that google has been made aware of this, as well as all the fake false google reviews they made and yet chose to not take any action.
They have lots of doorway page sites (which is specifically mentioned against something google will ban you for in their guidelines), they have blog review/tips sites that do nothing but favor their own products and even talk down and scare monger to the point of slander other companies…
They even have one site that purports to be an official site for something when it is not in any way shape or form an official site… but (offer)… top 5 recommendation… all of which lead to YMYL sites that they own.”
Google Webmaster Help Forum Reports

These are not isolated discussions at WebmasterWorld. There are multiple reports in Google’s official Webmaster Help Forums, too.

For example there is one discussion titled, Fake Review Websites Are Created For Self Promotion, Stating Competitors As Scam, Hampering Business

This is what the publisher reported:
“Our competitor has created his self promoting 5 websites, mentioning every other strong competitor as SCAM, driving all traffic and sales to his websites & they deliver poor quality work, so all face failure. “
Some major brands create websites that are standalone blogs and communities designed to reach out to potential customers. But creating a site for the purpose of outranking competitors and saying bad things about those competitors have some people upset at Google for ranking those sites.

Can Google Catch Fake Review Site Spam?

A careful competitor would very likely hide their domain registration information. How would Google identify a fake review spammer, by their inbound links? Could statistical analysis of review ratings reveal abnormal review patterns?

This isn’t a new problem. There are discussions in Google’s own Webmaster Help Forum going back years and years. Seems like something that Google might want to take a closer look at.