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Sore losers

Posted on | November 7, 2007 | No Comments

When Google updated their page rank statistics, I did not get upset. Some of my sites went up, some went down, some stayed the same. That’s what always happens. I don’t run massive internally linked networks of click traps, so I was not a target of their crackdown.

Starting at around 4:00 AM yesterday, one of the networks that I manage came under attack by a massive botnet. Many, many IPs from all over the globe , each on a different netblock hit us at once. More packets per second were coming than our firewalls and router could drop. All of our bridges were flooded for nearly 24 hours. We finally managed to deal with it and bring things back to normal.

The reason for the attack: page rank envy.

This particular network is reserved for affiliate marketers who use resource intense software to grab and organize feeds from places like Commission Junction, Amazon and others. These sites play by the rules, have for years and have grown. This blog happens to reside on the same network, some of you might have noticed that it was not available for almost 24 hours. It was ironic (to me) that even with load balanced clusters, 5k domains went dark due to inherent quirks in TCP/IP.

Link farmers have realized two things:

  • They are NOT going to get high ranking, no matter what they do
  • Botnets are cheap to rent

So, here we go with an era of “If I can’t get ranked, I’ll DDoS my competition to the point that they lose their ranking due to down time and then the playing field will be even.” This is, indeed, an alarming possibility. I’m not calling it a trend yet, because its only happened a few times since Google’s update. However, what was targeted were just affiliate shops that play by the rules and kept their good PR (or went up).

Anyone who relies on affiliate sales for part (or all) of their income knows how hard it can be to work for quality inbound links. 24 hours of down time makes automatic link checkers remove the links that were so difficult to obtain. 48 – 72 hours of down time almost ensures the links won’t be put back, a week and you’ve lost a significant number of links in search engines.

I have to wonder, is that little green bar named “page rank” making honest site operators become victims of their own success? Its like walking down the street in a bad neighborhood with a Google employee next to you holding a sign that says “<- has lots of money!” pointed right at you.

I wish that Google would either do something to finally denounce and stop the hype surrounding its page rank (such as further explaining JUST how they calculate it), or stop showing it and making it available. They could still use it internally.

Spammers also delight in targeting forums, blogs and other sites based on their page rank (obviously, as successful spamming gains them a better link).

Good for Google for being successful, I really hope that they don’t neglect their responsibilities to the Internet at large in the process.

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