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Can you BAN a competitor?

Discussion in 'Yahoo' started by SEOGuru, Jun 24, 2005.

  1. SEOGuru

    SEOGuru Peon

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    #121
    it is PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE. You are confused in that you think there has to be a single statement, etc. Not the case. SEC filings, Corporate documents, white papers published for the past 10 years, patent filings, and even seminars and industry consordiums have been documented where they (and every other search engine) state clearly that they derive their results strickly through mathematical equations. I'm not going to waste my time with the trivial task of finding a single definitive source to prove it to you. It isn't even "devils advocate" at this point. Someone who believes the information doesn't exist is just ignoring reality.

    It doesn't need to be proven and TECHNICALLY it doesn't even have to exist by law. Public knowledge would trump any non-disclosure in virtually every case. All the prosecution or investigative committee would have to do is take a statistically significant sampling of users and ask them if they believe the results to be unbiased. There is no protection even IF yahoo has never publicly said it (which they have).

    Listen, this isn't about them needing to say it on their site. That is completely irrelevant as there is a standard of confidence that you are giving every user just by BEING a search engine. They don't need to say that it is exclusively arrived at using equations for them to be in violation of deceptive advertising.

    It is like breaking into someone's house and claiming "there wasn't a sign saying I couldn't."
    Response: "yes but it is against the law"
    You say: "well no one told me that"

    There isn't an excuse for it. It is public knowledge that you don't break into people's homes even if there is no documented proof that you were specifically told not to.

    The bigger question here is trying to actually prove the results are fixed. I mean that IS the real violation in the eyes of the FTC. I know it is happening but it needs to be documented and proven and that is where the challenge is.
    SEMrush
     
    SEOGuru, Aug 4, 2005 IP
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    SEMrush
  2. GuyFromChicago

    GuyFromChicago Permanent Peon

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    #122
    No, it's PUBLIC ASSUMPTION.

    You should probably find it before you proceed with your lawsuit. Could be an important piece of info.


    That comaprison in no way relates to the issue being discussed. Robbing someone or breaking a law is not even remotely close to search engine manipulating their results in accordnace with their goals. Using your logic yahoo doesn't have the right to manually remove any site from their index, right?

    The big difference is robbery is against law. Yahoo modifying their serps is not.

    The fact of the matter is that there's nothing illegal about Yahoo "fixing" their results. It's their company.

    I've seen dozens and dozens of "I'm going to sue" posts in this forum over the past 15 months. Haven't seen one of them actually turn into anything.

    And hey, this isn't an attack againast your or your findings. All I'm saying is even if you are 100% correct and Yahoo is fixing results to their own benefit there's nothing illegal about it.
     
    GuyFromChicago, Aug 4, 2005 IP
  3. jlawrence

    jlawrence Peon

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    #123
    From yahoo's own web site:
    That to me says that they use a system of somekind to rank results - unless Yahoo! Search is a person which I very much doubt. It also infers that results for a query are not static.

    If someone went to the media with proof that they effectively locked results in their favour, then I think that would probably come under anti-competition laws (standard disclaimer : IANAL) at the very least it certainly wouldn't be good publicity for Yahoo.
     
    jlawrence, Aug 4, 2005 IP
  4. GuyFromChicago

    GuyFromChicago Permanent Peon

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    #124
    I've seen that. I was looking for something that says they never manually adjust their serps.

    What Yahoo does with their serps is their business. I was simply stating my opinion that I don't think there's any basis for a lawsuit that has a shot of accomplishing anything.

    Yahoo could say...

    1) Prove it.

    2) We adjusted our algorithm.

    3) Sites X Y Z were flagged as spam. That's whay they were removed/blocked/etc.

    The bottom line is no one but Yahoo knows for sure how they rank sites. Any lawsuit claiming they were doing this that or the other would just be speculation and most likely would not make it too far.
     
    GuyFromChicago, Aug 4, 2005 IP
  5. SEOGuru

    SEOGuru Peon

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    #125
    Are you reading my posts? I am talking about something totally different.

    I don't think you have made a distinction between modifying SERPs/algorithm and MANUALLY placing themselves at #1 in an industry they make millions in. That IS in fact against the law.

    You also don't make the distinction between "manually adjusting their serps" in terms of banning sites and keeping the results clean and actually delivering the entire top 10 results in the order that best fits their own goals, then locking them down.

    Finally, you don't realize that just because it is "their" search engine, doesn't mean they can't also be held liable. You somehow believe they can just answer to no one. It is NOT a privately held company. The public actually owns the company and Yahoo has a responsibility to its shareholders and users to provide ethical services.

    You were saying that it is "PUBLIC ASSUMPTION".

    First, NO, its not. It has been documented all over that their results are based on an algorithm. It is unbelievable to me that you would pin your argument on, "I don't care, show me where it says that."

    It is like when little kids put their fingers in their ears saying: "LA LA LA LA... I'm not listening!" instead of accepting common logic and known fact.

    Second, it is public knowledge that being a search engine also means that users expect results to be untainted. Users have placed confidence in yahoo and other search engines to deliver results of unbiased relevancy. If that confidence is violated unbeknownst to the users, then YES IT IS AGAINST THE LAW!

    You are right if the lawsuit was about getting banned. They can say what they want and it is very hard to prove WHY they banned you.

    But that isn't want I'm talking about.

    I can PROVE that they have fixed the results for at least two terms that they are in and are actually even bidding on Overture (their own company) on those two same terms. (which brings up ethical questions also by driving up the bid price for others when there is really no NET cost to themselves)

    I'm talking about a totally different issue than getting banned. You are confusing these two different topics.

    This is about the fact that they are in a business that generates 40-60 million per year for them and they locked down the results placing themselves at #1.

    I CAN actually prove this. The bigger question is documentation which I'm working on with my lawyers.

    And in repeating myself from before, I really don't care if the lawsuit goes anywhere. That is just a means to an end. The real stinger is the press. The PR backlash from shareholders and major media organizations that discover this would be 500 times more damaging. If the FTC came in and said, "we are launching an investigation of deceptive advertising in regards to your search results", there would be a media feeding frenzy.

    Again, I'm NOT talking about sites getting banned or where they are ranked. (sorry but I feel I need to keep reminding you).

    The FTC has ALREADY come down on search engines in regards to the clear separation of "sponsored" results and "natural" results. This issue for Yahoo is actually more damaging in the eyes of the FTC who would be concerned about the consumer being decieved. "Natural" listings are expected to be just that.... "natural" and unbiased.

    I'll go further. I'm not even complaining that Yahoo is #1 in one of their biggest industries. In fact maybe they should be #1 if they naturally would fall there using the algorithm. But what they did is lock down results of two different searches. Same top 10, in the exact same order. It is mathematically impossible which means those results were placed there on PURPOSE. If that is the case, then they have violated the public trust and the FTC will want to protect the consumer from this deception. Had they not been greedy they would have gotten away with it. If they only locked down one term there would be nothing to compare it against. It would be left unquestioned.

    You know, it would have been bad enough if they manually ranked the top 10, locked it down in the same order on two different terms, and they weren't even in the top 10. That by itself is a violation of public trust. But the fact that they put themselves at #1 in one of their biggest industries is almost like a slap in the face. It is so blatant that they may as well be saying "come after us, we dare you."

    When the FTC went after the tabacco companies. They MADE them spend millions to promote anti-smoking. They were forced to place disclaimers on ads and products. If yahoo wants to pull this shit, then YES, it is their right. But they will be forced to tell users that they are manipulating the results for their own benefit.

    The honest truth is that it will never get that far. They will get a slap on the hand and a "don't do that again". But the media is far less forgiving and that is where I think the real damage is. It is my media contact that I'm counting on to make the most noise and broadcast it to the world. Especially in the heat of the Search Engine Wars, this would be a huge raincloud over Yahoo's head.
     
    SEOGuru, Aug 4, 2005 IP
  6. GuyFromChicago

    GuyFromChicago Permanent Peon

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    #126
    I'm sure you'll expose Yahoo and cause a media stir like one that's never been seen before and bring yahoo to it's knees. Please post more info as it develops.

    My opinion is that you'll have a hard, if not impossible, time proving anything.

    In terms of the media, if you're not careful they'll just flip it around on you and position it as "some guy is suing us because he doesn't like where we rank his site."
     
    GuyFromChicago, Aug 5, 2005 IP
  7. SEOGuru

    SEOGuru Peon

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    #127
    When I approach the media, I'm not even going to mention my site. I'm just going to report the documented fixed results. This will have nothing to do with sites being banned as that is a whole different issue.

    The fact is that anyone can actually look at these results and see for themselves. So whether or not it came from a "pissed off" webmaster would be irrelevant. It wouldn't change the evidence or the magnitude of their actions at all.
     
    SEOGuru, Aug 5, 2005 IP
  8. Dreamshop

    Dreamshop Peon

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    #128
    I'm not about to get involved in the great debate going on, but just wanted to point out that if your site is game related you only have to wait a bit and Yahoo just might buy it from you. I've been watching them snatch up gaming sites left and right for the last year, and they're in the top five for most game related keywords (plus the Yahoo shortcut listing).

    If you think they're really focusing on your industry then look at where they're getting their content...you might be able to cash in on it.
     
    Dreamshop, Aug 6, 2005 IP
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  9. GuyFromChicago

    GuyFromChicago Permanent Peon

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    #129
    Came across this today...seems that in that circle it's "public knowledge" that Yahoo has been hand editing results for awhile.

    Any updates on the potential media coverage?
     
    GuyFromChicago, Aug 11, 2005 IP
  10. puzzlebox

    puzzlebox Guest

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    #130
    heh. If I was the lawyer of Y I'd probably say that it is in the algo to freeze the top 10 for a while when a part of their site is in it (who knows what a while is *wink*, maybe until the next algo change), then the case is lost.
     
    puzzlebox, Aug 11, 2005 IP
  11. SEOGuru

    SEOGuru Peon

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    #131
    It has been awhile since my last post. I've been quite busy. But there is something VERY INTERESTING that has happened.

    First, as far as the test goes. I had another brand new site that I got ranked in yahoo in a small term. I made sure it was a basic site that didn't violate any guidelines.

    I pointed tens of thousands or weighting points to it and it was eliminated from the SERPs. I don't want to say "banned" because it seems there are grey areas here. Meaning, if you search for "www.theuniquedomain.com", the homepage DOES show up. But if you search for "theuniquedomain" it doesn't. It loses all indexed pages but doesn't lose backlinks. It doesn't rank on any page on any other result other than the complete URL.

    I'm not sure what to call this phenomenon. If it was a full fledged ban, i'd assume that the site would disappear completely, even if you did a link check. For lack of a better term, I'm just going to call it being "DELISTED" rather than "banned".

    Whatever it is, it is a severe penalty or "partial ban" for a site that once ranked in hundreds on terms and now only ranks for a search of its complete URL.

    As interesting as that is, because I was able to get this site psuedo-banned by just pointing a lot of Co-op weight to it and having the links go from nothing to about 20k in about a week...

    THAT WASN'T THE INTERESTING PART!

    The interesting thing that happened, was that one of my MAJOR websites that had been delisted after the Charlie update is BACK IN!!! This is a site that had as much as 1.8 MILLION links and hundreds of thousands of indexed pages.

    And I don't just mean that it is being indexed again, or that it is ranking for a search on the exact domain name (without the www. and .com). I'm talking about the rankings almost coming back to pre-Charlie.

    The weirdest thing is that I didn't do anything to the site. I just removed ALL Co-op links pointing to it.

    Oh it gets better. You see, none of my other delisted websits got back in. Even though I removed the Co-op links from those as well.

    There are only two differences (that I am aware of) between the site that got back in and all of the sites that haven't.
    1) I renewed the domain for 9 years.

    2) I sent a letter to Yahoo from the email address of the site that got back in. I said that I couldn't understood why I got banned and that I reviewed all of the user guidlines and complied with each one. I DID conceed to them that I had received a lot of links in a short period of time but it was because of massive offline advertising efforts. (of course that was only partially true, haha)

    I also told them that my site was hand-reviewed and approved for the Yahoo Directory AFTER I was banned, so how would it be possible to not comply with their guidelines? Finally, I said that it was interesting that they had locked down identical results in 2 terms that they make a LOT of money in while placing themselves at #1. I wasn't "accusing" them persay, but just kind of letting them know that I knew what they were doing.

    Then, on September 3rd, I was back in and ranked on the first page. Granted they still have themselves ranked #1 on both terms and all of the other results seemed to be locked down in the same exact order, but my site went from being not ranked on ANY page to being #10 on both terms.

    I'm not jumping to conclusions here. I don't know anything for sure as to why or how I got back in. But just based on the information I do have, it seems quite ominous to me.

    To this day, none of the other sites I have that got delisted are back in the results.
     
    SEOGuru, Sep 19, 2005 IP
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  12. aeiouy

    aeiouy Peon

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    #132
    So you think it is the co-op even though you admit other sites you did the same exact thing to did not return. To me that doesn't prove it was the co-op at all. It proves it was something else entirely.
     
    aeiouy, Sep 19, 2005 IP
  13. spdude

    spdude Guest

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    #133
    CoopGuy,

    Do you run your own rotating anchors script on your own sites.. to boost ur serps for keyword variations.. in other words, are you doing massive internal linking with rotating anchors amongst your sites?

    I have an observasion or two of my own to share... but first want to pinpoint exactly what got your site back in the top ten. I really don't think it had anything to do with the re-inclusion request.
     
    spdude, Sep 19, 2005 IP
  14. SEOGuru

    SEOGuru Peon

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    #134
    For the longest time, I was one of the biggest advocates for there being no way a search engine would do such a thing. Like GuyFromChicago once said, there are a thousand reasons why it doesn't make sense. I think it boils down to this:
    How can they penalize you for something you can't control?

    So I fully expected (or at least hoped) this test would fail. But I've tested it 4 separate times now and it has worked EVERY time. I'm not blaming the Coop. Obviously not everyone in the coop has been delisted and there is NO PROOF whatsoever that Yahoo is specifically targeting the coop or digital point. However, I believe the result is triggered as a byproduct of having a lot of weight in the coop. Even with great offline and online marketing, press releases, etc. it isn't "normal" for a site to go from 20 links to 20,000 in one week. Or in the case of one of my delisted sites from 5000 links to 1.8 million links in about 45 days.

    I've tested this on old sites, new sites, spammy sites, and clean sites; sites with the coop links on them and sites without. The result has always been the same. It had nothing to do with having coop links on the sites. It was strictly due to having links POINT to the sites. The more weight, the more links.

    A friend of mine isn't even part of the coop but he purchased hundreds of thousands of links for a client of his that had ranked top 5 in Yahoo for 3 years. His client's site was delisted as well a few weeks later.

    I'm with you. There is no way this should be possible but if it walks like a duck and looks like duck... well it is probably Yahoo. ;-)
     
    SEOGuru, Sep 20, 2005 IP
  15. SEOGuru

    SEOGuru Peon

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    #135
    No I don't think removing the co-op links got me back in. Because none of my other sites got back in. I'm somewhat passed the points of figuring out how I was delisted in the first place. I'm pretty sure about that one. I'm more interested on how the heck I got back in.

    The site that got back in was the only site that I submitted multiple re-inclusion requests. At first I got the standard reply that everyone gets. Then I emailed then again explaining in greater detail.

    I don't know for sure what it was, but that was the only thing I did in addition to registering my domain for 9 years. I just wanted to post this to see if anyone else got back in too.

    Spdude: I am not running any other rotating scripts client side or server side. I do have Google Adsense on the pages though.
     
    SEOGuru, Sep 20, 2005 IP
  16. kepa

    kepa Peon

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    #136
    I'm convinced that getting a large number of links pointing to your site will hurt you in Yahoo. It did for me and I'm not saying it is the co-op, but instead the fact that a large number of links pointing you wherever you get them is a big reason. My site had been in the top 3 of Yahoo for years and then poof, disappeared. The only thing we did was get links. So taking those factors to it's logical conclusion would mean that you could get a competitor banned if you tried hard enough.
     
    kepa, Sep 20, 2005 IP
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  17. Mia

    Mia R.I.P. STEVE JOBS

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    #137
    I really do not think that the number of links is the larger factor, but where they are coming from, ie., the delivery method. Explain why a site with great content, well indexed, (but new) ends up banned? I've got around 500 backlinks since December of 2004. I hardly call that a mass build up over the past several months.

    Something stinks here....
     
    Mia, Sep 20, 2005 IP
  18. GuyFromChicago

    GuyFromChicago Permanent Peon

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    #138
    It's not so much the links as the site they are being pointed to.
     
    GuyFromChicago, Sep 20, 2005 IP
  19. Web Gazelle

    Web Gazelle Well-Known Member

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    #139
    It looks like the co-op network has become a weapon that can be used to knock competitors out of Yahoo. The real test would be to try the same experiment on an established site. ;)
     
    Web Gazelle, Sep 20, 2005 IP
  20. Mia

    Mia R.I.P. STEVE JOBS

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    #140
    I am not so sure that is going to work. I think the Yahoo is considering several factors when it comes to ranking/de-ranking a site.

    I kinda think of them as doing something simliar to say spam assasin scoring an email. I think Yahoo looks at how long the site has been around/indexed. How often it is updated, content changed, etc. I think they also look at the number and length of time that backlinks are around, as well as outgoing links, along with God only knows what else. I think they give each of these items a score.

    So let's say you have a site that has been around since 97, has its own domain name, a decent amount (not huge) of back links, well indexed, a lot of pages, etc..

    The scoring would be something like 0 - 5 with the highest number being considered a "spammy" site.

    Top Level Domain = 0
    Age of Domain = 0
    Number of Back links = .02
    Indexed Pages = 0
    hidden text = 0
    keyword usage = 1
    Link Farm = 0
    Outgoing Links = 1.2

    Total = 2.4

    Now take a site that is say less than 6 months old, indexed, good content, a few back links or a lot, but say uses a second or third level domain like "whateversite.mydomain.com.

    Top Level Domain = 4
    Age of Domain = 5
    Number of Back links = 1
    Indexed Pages = 0
    hidden text = 0
    keyword usage = 0
    Link Farm = 0
    Outgoing Links = 3

    Total = 13

    Hmmmm.... Ok, so my back links are not horrendous enough to get me banned, but that 1 point along with the fact that my site is pretty new, and my domain is an offspring of another domain name, etc...

    Now do something like this:

    Top Level Domain = 0
    Age of Domain = 0
    Number of Back links = .02
    Indexed Pages = 0
    hidden text = 0
    keyword usage = 1
    Link Farm = 0
    Outgoing Links = 1.2
    Coop = 5

    Total = 7.4

    Ok so the well established site score went up, but still not enough with the Coop alone, NO MATTER WHAT THE WEIGHT.

    I still contend it is a multiple of factors that weigh into Yahoo's weighting/scoring of a site. The Coop is just one part of it. Assuming you have some pretty high scores in other areas, even the smallest of weight from the Coop could knock you out. But if you are on the low side score wise, you could point the world to your site in terms of weight and Yahoo would never flinch.

    That's my 2 cents anyway.
     
    Mia, Sep 20, 2005 IP