While there was a lot of talk about Penguin updates and the obsoletion of black hat SEO techniques, you will still have the chance of seeing them in full action, especially for very competitive keywords like viagra, cialis and payday loans. After the last Penguin update people had high hopes on abolishing black hat SEO. Everybody proclaimed the death of strategies including parasite hosting, cloaking and Google bombing. The order on the search results was once more restored and everyone was happy ( except black hat SEO’s ).
But right now, if you’ll have the curiosity to take a quick peek at the SERP for keywords like “buy viagra”, you’ll see that the first two positions are occupied by sites that use parasite hosting. As you can see, a quick query on the highly competitive keywords mentioned above will provide you with the harsh reality – there are still black hat SEO practices going on, defying the Penguin updates.
What is Parasite Hosting?
We’ve covered parasite hosting before, and it’s not entirely a fresh appearance in the black hat SEO landscape. But people constantly tried to predict it’s demise and stick a fork in it. This black hat technique makes use of the fact that Google favors domains that have strong authority. Someone who uses parasite hosting to boost a site’s rank in SERP will try to place backlinks on high authority sites. Usually you’ll see on the respective parasited domain a new page that is specially created in order to rank for a set of optimized keywords. This technique is used without the webmaster’s permission and it is also illegal.
Interesting enough, you’ll see people using parasite hosting to boost their sites on keywords like “buy viagra” or “buy cialis” on .edu websites or high authority domains.
How Does Parasite Hosting Work?
While the reasons why parasite hosting might be appealing for someone, the deployment of this type of technique might be a little more intricate. You’ll always find it in a tandem with other type of black hat SEO techniques for maximum efficiency. On it’s own it may influence your ranking to some degree, but it really makes an impact in search results if it is paired with cloaking, for example. Take the keyword “buy cialis”. What does happen when you click on sites that rank very high with this keyword ? Clicking on such links from the search results will redirect you to another page through the help of a cloaking script with smart HTTP_REFERER identification. The keyword will be screened and it will forward you to the designated site. The trick behind this cloaking technique is that the visitors will only access the hacked site through the search results. From any other source the website will act as if nothing has happened, making it difficult for the site owner to spot the problem.
When searching for “viagra”, the SERPs are filled with results that wouldn’t normally be there. But when you’re going to modify the keyword with a spammier version like “buy viagra” you’re going to find out a lot of examples of parasite hosting. You’ll see websites that have nothing to do with pharmaceutical products which are hosting doorway pages. Among those hacked sites you’ll see some of them have .edu, .gov or . org top-domains. It helps the hacker to better hide in plain sight if he uses the websites of organizations, as Google favors them in the SERPs.
You may also see black hatters cunningly using parasite hosting for negative SEO purposes. While this technique can be harmful and eventually detected by Google’s crawlers, some of them are using this to put competitors site’s in jeopardy. You’ll see a lot of high authority sites that are leading in their niche that get manual penalties all of a sudden. It may be the workings of a hacker!
How Does Google Detect Parasited Sites?
It’s a fact that Google is trying it’s best to identify and handle parasited sites. But this short-term technique proves to be rewarding enough to be still implemented in 2014. And that is a sign that Google needs to be faster on detecting the sites. Maybe the new Payday Loan 2.0 Google Update will solve these problems. There is still a pretty long delay between the time the hacked site is displayed in the SERPs and the moment Google figures out the scheme. Those who take their time with these types of black hat SEO techniques are still ranking in the top 10 search results with success. Google can’t detect those who are masterfully done right off the bat. But in the end they will discover them through different crawling tests that they roll without identifying itself as Googlebot (in the case of cloaking). They also detect them through other methods that identify redirects and java scripts with their visual crawler.
How to Protect Your Site From Being Used as a Parasite Hosting Gateway?
Webmasters have a hard time trying to protect themselves from crap hat SEO techniques as hackers will try to manipulate the data in order to hide their trace really well. There are a few steps you should follow in order to keep those troublesome hackers away from your website:
1. Monitor Your Site
Use some integrity control tool for your site. You need to constantly analyze logs and keep an eye on any change you may see on your website. In case of a hacker attack on your site, you would know immediately that there were some alterations in the file system. Also, your styles.php file might suffer modifications. You can also detect if any backdoors are uploaded. By using such a tool you would be faster on cleaning your site of any black hat SEO changes.
2. Set Google Webmaster Tools Alerts to Notify You When Your Site is Hacked
You need to keep an eye on the “Security Issues” section for any alerts you might receive. While you’re here, you might also check the resources Google puts at your disposal regarding hacked sites. They have a step-by-step guide on the recovery process, after receiving a security issue in the Webmaster Tools.
3. Setup a Google Alert on the Phrase [site:domain.com]
This notifies you when new pages are indexed by Google. Even if hackers are very careful with their black hat SEO, you can still catch them in the act. You just have to make smart use of the proper tools for this type of problem. As a great deal of black hatters are focusing on the same money keywords like “payday loans” you can anticipate the hacking of your site and set the alert to search your site for them.
4. Patch and Update Your Software
If you run Public (Open-Source or Free) Software always Patch and Update your Software (such as WordPress,Joomla, PhpBB etc. ) to the latest stable versions. If a bug, that can be exploited, is found in such a program you may have a breach of security. This can be exploited at a high level by a skilled hacker.
An Example of a Latent Parasited Site
Here is a quick example that I found. It was ranking ok for several weeks, probably because it does not affect the end user directly. Even if it is not a clocked site, this has the risk to instantly become one as it was already hacked for the reason of adding backlinks to other abused sites, in order to give them more ranking juice and make them rank higher.
The site looks normal. Nothing shady about it.
The site was hacked and injected this link code:
As we can see parasite hosting can be used both for direct ranking or for in-direct ranking by helping other sites to rank higher, with injected hidden backlinks.
It’s clear that even with the latest efforts from Google, parasite hosting is still used with success by black hat SEO’s. Their inventivity and cunningness to develop clever techniques to deceive the Google is endless. In terms of ideas they will never end to astonish us and finally they will push the search engines further “making” them advance in technology faster. But as a viable technique for ranking in the search engines, you will be disappointed to know that parasite hosting, is discovered by Google eventually. They are keen on destroying these evil doers and their tactics.
What are your takes on this subject ?