Are You a Hippie? Which File Extension Are You? Which Survivor of the Impending Nuclear Apocalypse Are You?
Quizzes… blogthingies… you’ve seen them everywhere. Although I often run off and checkout the latest novelty doing the rounds, I don’t usually post the results on my own blog. Partly because heck, you lot have all seen that stuff hundreds of other places before, partly because I think it clutters up the look of a blog, and partly because I don’t like to cut and paste other people’s code into my blog, without thoroughly checking it out. And mostly, I’m just too lazy to check it out! But today, I did a new quiz, and I actually considered pasting the info… and this time, I did check. And boy, am I glad. The makers of the geek, dork, nerd quiz are doing something a leetle bit naughty, something which the nice people at Google don’t look kindly upon.
Link stuffing 😡
Inside the tables that make up the ‘graphics’ that display how much geekier, nerdier or dorkier you or I are than others*, there are invisible 1×1 pixel images which also happen to be links to the online dating service run by the providers of the quiz. Sneaky sneaky. There are 6 of these invisible links in each slab of code that is posted into a blog. Hundreds (maybe thousands?) of blogs each providing 6 links inward to the dating service adds up to a lot of links, and should provide the dating service with a tidy little increase in their Google Pagerank (that thing which gets you listed higher up in the search results). Pagerank calculations give great importance to inward-bound links. I checked, and the site in question is indeed ranking at #1 for the particular search term they’re sneaking into blogs everywhere.
I don’t especially care that they’re getting an artificially high Pagerank – I’m not in the market for an online dating service. Most likely every other dating service on the Web is engaged in equally clandestine behaviour. I do care that they are using unsuspecting blog-authors as their weapon, however. So don’t fall for it, people! At the very least, check and understand the code you’re cutting-and-pasting into your blog. Link-stuffing might not be the worst of what you’re unwittingly putting in there.
*For the record, I’m 78% Nerd, 17% Geek and 30% Dork. You see! I always tell people I’m not really a Geek – I just like to learn, and at the moment, I happen to be learning Geekstuff!