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  1. #1
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    Search Engines & Risky Sites
    I just thoroughly read the results of a report that SiteAdvisor (McAfee) released on their site. It was an update to an earlier (May 2006) study that takes an in depth look at SERPs across five of the top U.S. search engines.

    Although alarming, I can't say the results surprised me too much. Namely:

    * On average, 4.4% of all search results from both paid and organic placements link to risky Web sites.

    and...

    * Search engines earn approximately $1.28 billion annually from their U.S. operations by sending users to risky sites.

    The McAfee Study: The Safety of Internet Search Engines - Revisited
    AvantLink Blog Summary: 4.4% Search Results in U.S. Risky

    Just thought I would share..

    Gary M

  2. #2
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    What is a "risky site" ?? Given the norm in the "security industry" of over-counting risks (e.g. cookie = spyware), I'd want to know what they are really including.

    At the McAfee site, they divide "risky" into "red" and "yellow" groups:
    1 - "Red" rated sites failed SiteAdvisor's safety tests. Examples are sites that distribute adware, send a high volume of spam, or make unauthorized changes to a user's computer.

    2 - "Yellow" rated sites engage in practices that warrant important advisory information based on SiteAdvisor's safety tests. Examples are sites which send a high volume of "non-spammy" email, display many popup ads, or prompt a user to change browser settings.
    Apparently "poor email practices" includes "sending a high volume of non-spammy email."

    I think "sites which send a high volume of non-spammy email" is a strange category to rate as "risky." I get "a lot of non-spammy email" from Amazon.com and eBay (order confirmations, for example), but I don't view either as "risky." I also signed up for "quote of the day" emails and a few daily-news updates -- are sites really "risky" because they send daily emails to people who request them?

    Since a site is considered "risky" if it merely links to another site classified as "risky," I assume that all the directory sites (Yahoo, ODP) are classified as risky since they include some such links? Hmm.

    The statistics also depend on the search terms used, and the sites included and excluded from McAfee's own site database. It seems likely that the "2,500 popular keywords" being used include a lot of porn keywords, which would skew the results. In fact, the keywords used are NOT the 2,500 most popular on the search engines studied, but came from a different (and larger) group of search engines.

    It is unclear whether every site in the search results was added to the McAfee site database, or if they only counted sites already in the database (which presumably is intended to identify "bad" sites).

    Gee, a survey like this, if well-received by the media, would certainly give consumers a good reason to buy McAfee's products, and would also give Google a good reason to pay a security firm (like McAfee) for data to be used to flag or exclude "risky sites" from search results -- hence the importance of showing how much Google profits from those risky sites. (And my wife says I'm a cynic -- why would she think that?)

    Disclaimer: I already disliked McAfee because they engage in deceptive marketing practices, including deliberately exaggerating risks and improperly describing the services provided by their software. I don't trust anything they say.
    Last edited by markwelch; January 3rd, 2007 at 01:45 PM.

  3. #3
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    Hi Mark,

    This is one of the Key Findings listed on the report:

    "41.4% of red or yellow sites exhibit poor e-mail practices, 24.5% contain risky downloads, 26.8% are scam sites, 32.3% link to other risky sites and 3.0% contain browser exploits. Many sites posed multiple dangers."

  4. #4
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    I would have guessed it to be higher, based on the Site Advisor results I've seen on searches. I search for pretty tame stuff and I would think that a lot of searches for...um...steamier stuff would result in even riskier results.

    And I've noticed this to be more of an issue with Google than Yahoo or MSN.

    My POV isn't scientifically proven; it's anecdotal based on casual observations.

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    If you go deeper in their study, you'll see some keywords to avoid where 53.3% of search results are rated red or yellow. Mostly linked to FREE stuff.
    Ben Edelman worked on that report.

  6. #6
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    Good point on the search terms Mark/Zeus..

    I guess the discussion I was more interested in is the issue of "Search engines earn approximately $1.28 billion annually from their U.S. operations by sending users to risky sites."

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    Gary wrote: "I guess the discussion I was more interested in is the issue of 'Search engines earn approximately $1.28 billion annually from their U.S. operations by sending users to risky sites.'"

    That figure certainly helps McAfee communicate its message to consumers: that Search Engines profit from these "risky sites," and therefore Search Engines won't protect consumers; consumers must buy McAfee's products to be protected.

    (FYI: I updated my first post in this thread several times, including some info that actually addresses comments in later posts.)
    Last edited by markwelch; January 3rd, 2007 at 02:07 PM.

  8. #8
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    I used Site Advisor prior to McAfee's acquisition and thought it was a great tool. But since McAfee's purchase of the product it appears to be more of a marketing tool for other McAfee products and services. They would like to convince us that every site is a risk and that we need more of their products to protect us.

    I no longer waste the CPU cycles on it.
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  9. #9
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    I'm not surprised that these risky sites are so profitable for SEs. Remember when I posted http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=60868 (Parasite links in Adsense).

    I started taking a hard look at the Adsense ads being served to my sites and the result was that I've pretty much removed all Adsense links. No point in sending my visitors to a site that causes me and them harm.

  10. #10
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    McAfee motivations aside the fact is SEs are spreading spyware and other scams while profiting from it.. it will be interesting to watch these statistics,

  11. #11
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt
    I used Site Advisor prior to McAfee's acquisition and thought it was a great tool. But since McAfee's purchase of the product it appears to be more of a marketing tool for other McAfee products and services. They would like to convince us that every site is a risk and that we need more of their products to protect us.

    I no longer waste the CPU cycles on it.
    Well if you want to CYA or expose others ...then 8 million + growing www.siteadvisor.com users are getting an education on the scumbag side of affiliate marketing. The message is sinking in loud and clear daily to millions, thanks to SiteAdvisor getting the word out about those seeking to quickly enrich themselves putting their system and identity at risk. I love seeing those eyeballs bulge on those who I personally put SiteAdvisor on their systems.

    Worry even more as those tasked at Google, MSN and Yahoo, to protect their SERP/Paid Search cash cow measured by their searcher Adwhore exploit complaints, have multiple OUTING tools on their work and personal systems. Google employees (Serp/Adwords compliance team members) have Siteadvisor.com and donated Microsoft "OneCare" alert software on their systems. They also have cookie sniffers, redirect alerts, browser hijacking attempt red lights while doing e-mail or phone support. Add in www.greenborder.com total shields-up protection and their armed to troll the depths of the Wild Wild West EyeBall gold rush fields orchestrated by every criminal mind to study Online Gorilla Marketing tricks for quick cash.

    Sitemeter.com is the easiest way to shine a flashlight on the rats lurking within the PPCSE and SERP gaming industry sewers. No wonder these SE's have no love affair with shadier side of the affiliate Ad industry. True these commissioned cyber con-men are big PPCSE spenders.... but they bring along class-action suit liabilities and huge legal retainers to stave off pimping for Adwhore fines, FTC scrutiny, media friendly SiteMeter.com backlash, and BHO/Adware/Spyware hidden SERP/PPCSE links trashing systems all over the keyword Advertising space. My bet is Google will stay legit and close down anyone, or any entity, undermining their Trust with Googlers. Get your weed whacker out Google, in 2007, and let the rats hide in your competitors Adwhore sewers. Your employees already see the scumbags at work daily within Google's lax borders, and they represent the informed web surfers today and tomorrow. These same employees will OUT Google, if they see Google playing both sides of the ethical SERP/PPCSE fence, upon leaving in disgust.

    My prediction for 2007 is the Affiliate Industry will be forced to face what's staring right at the major SE's. Enlightened Consumer outrage their trusted favorite SE knowingly tricked them into a REDZone. The first major SE perceived to kick the Rats off their ship gets the moral high-ground in this consumer confidence battle.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

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