Google is not just home to ad click fraud, it’s also open to search engine optimized fake press releases. And small business that use free or cheap press release distribution services may be the ones to pay for Google’s vulnerability. And, by the way, Will Ferrell is not dead.
Sixteen year-old blogger Tom Vendetta played a prank on Google that will end up costing PR people and SEOs. Vendetta put out a fake release saying he’d been hired by Google and within hours, his release was picked up in Google News. He says he was inspired by a post on how to spam Google News in Richard Wiggins blog.
The teenager’s experiment exposed the fact the automated system that is Google News does not verify press releases before publishing them as factual news pieces.
Says the SEO blog, “Vendetta’s fake press release has exposed a credibility problem for Google and might lead to new costs for search marketing firms that use legitimate press releases as a means of promotion.”
Here, spelling errors and all, is the fake release Vendetta posted through I-Newswire.
Google certainly will have to take steps to close gaps in its News aggregation system quickly, and it is possible that they will disempower or “delist” of free release services such as I-Newswire.com.
Says Vendetta on his blog
“Please dont [sic] tell me that I was trying to get famous or be cool, cause I wasnt. I was only trying to mess with a few minds, not a few thousand.”
The idea came from Richard Wiggins’ Wigblolg post on March 9, in which he noted,
Obviously this raises a lot of questions about what sources are indexed by Google News and whether Google News hasn’t grown way beyond the parameters of an index of bona fide media outlets.
In any event, once word gets out on this, I can imagine lots of bloggers submitting “press releases” with their daily blog entries, enhancing their visibility by spamming Google News.
Hmm… wait a minute! Now that’s an idea!
Actually, Google bots scan my blog hundreds of times every day, and I’ve often seen my posts rank high in Google search results on the day I post them. So I’m not sure frequent press releases would change much for a blog that is updated daily.
But, hey, I’ll let you know what happens to the one I just submitted through PR Web and I-Newswire, both of which claim to be indexed by Google News.
UPDATE: Another fake press release on I-Newswire, saying that actor Will Ferrell had died, made it into Google News this morning and created quite the online brouhaha. Google News has already taken down the release, but several blogs show screen shots of it in Google results earlier today.