Archive for the 'Search' Category

Sweeping Bad Press Under The Rug Using Junk Blog Comments

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

I noticed an interesting comment on this blog while deleting comment spam a few days ago.

1. Jim Mirkalami Says:
February 6th, 2008 at 6:25 pm

I have been a frequent visitor of this blog for some time now, so I thought it would be a good idea to leave you with my thanks.

Jim Mirkalami

It has that “almost certainly spam but hard to be dead sure” feel to it that a lot of spam comments have. Strangely although it is an optional field, he gives as his website. This seemed even stranger when you note he seems to have his own website ( unless there are two single fathers of two with that name in Ontario.

It seems like a pretty uncommon name, so I google for him. The first few links are news stories alleging questionable ethics in Canadian Auctions for jewelry and Persian rugs. Curiouser and curiouser.

Of course, I am only guessing that it is an uncommon name. It could be the equivalent of Smith in the middle east. It certainly seems fairly popular in among Toronto rug merchants.

Here is my theory.

I’d be upset if the first google result for my (fairly uncommon) name led to a page that started “No charges laid …”.

Knowing a little about SEO and the way google ranks pages, I think you could fairly quickly bury those stories by commenting on a lot of blogs. It would be harder if the story was all over major media. Not many blogs have a pagerank that can compete with CNN or the NYT (pagerank 9), but Google ranks local media about on par with a popular blog. There are no shortage of blogs with a pagerank around 5 or 6. Google only gives 7.

The comments appear to be somewhat targeted. They seem to appear on blogs (but not always posts) that mention the word ‘auction’ or the word ‘Canada’. There are automated comment spam tools that will find suitable blogs for you, or in a little more time you could do it by hand from any of the blog search engines. A few days later he commented on another post of mine that does contain the word auction (because it is about ebay).

The text of that comment is

Jim Mirkalami Says:
February 8th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

I have been visiting this site a lot lately, so i thought it is a good idea to show my appreciation with a comment.

Jim Mirkalami

PS: I am a single dad! ;)

Other ones you will see around the place are:

Tammy kingston, on February 5th, 2008 at 5:18 pm Said:

Jim Mirkalami, the very globally highly regarded auctioneer, is a peaceful man single father of two beautiful children. He is also a regular reader of this blog. Great job you ppl!

Aslan, on February 7th, 2008 at 10:06 pm Said:

He is a kind and very loving man.

I don’t know who Tammy is. I get no useful search results for “Tammy Mirkalami”, but I am guessing she is from Kingston (which is near Toronto). I am guessing the Aslan above is more likely to be Aslan Mirkalami (owner of than a lion king from Narnia.

Does this variety of reputation management work? Sure does. A few days later, and at least the top 10 pages of search results for his name are all blogs. The negative press is presumably still indexed, but has dropped way down the list where only a dedicated searcher will find it. He many have overplayed his hand though, as the first result at the moment is a blogger calling him a spammer.

So here are some morals to this story.

  • If you are going to have dissatisfied customers, make sure you have few enough that only local media cover the allegations.
  • Commenting furiously on blogs will give you Google results that effectively act as noise
  • Try to tailor the comments to the blogs a little. It would not take much more time, and would make the effort invisible.

Oh, and surely you already knew that whenever you buy anything (including rugs and jewelery) valuations from the seller are worth only slightly more than the paper your blog is written on.

Are site based search engines completely useless?

Monday, February 6th, 2006

I never use the search box on websites. This site has one, because WordPress provides it by default and it would seem silly to remove a possibly useful feature. Most big name websites have one. Jacob Nielsen says “Search is the user’s lifeline for mastering complex websites.”

I’m coping OK without a lifeline and I have been for a few years. In fact, I am doing better than OK. I am wasting less time looking through dud results and instead, finding what I want through an external search engine, which today of course means Google.

This is not really a criticism of the people who make plug in site search engines, or even people who choose to make their own bespoke ones. Making an internal search engine that works when people search for a phrase that is in the document heading or for uncommon keywords in the document body is pretty easy. Making one that works well when people search for common words, use different vocabulary or misspell words is much harder. You could employ an army of semi-literate squirrels, to pour over a thesaurus and add meta data full of misspelled synonyms to every page, or you could just accept the fact that an army of semi-literate webmasters have already linked to your important pages using their own descriptions and allow Google to harvest that meta data.

Adding a search box is easy. Giving good results with variable input is hard.

Every new internet technology can be used for vanity searches

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

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