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Modifying the results order in a Google search

Computer forensics discussion. Please ensure that your post is not better suited to one of the forums below (if it is, please post it there instead!)
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Modifying the results order in a Google search

Post Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:17 pm

Dear All,
I'm involved in brand infringment case and my client would know if the counterpart
has fraudulently altered the result list of google and yahoo searches.

When I search with google (or yahoo) "www.xxxx.it" (my client) the top in the result list is hold by
"www.yyyy.it" (the counterpart).

My first hypotesys was that the counterpart had hidden some reference to my client in its web site in order to be indexed
during the "spidering" phase.

To verify this, I locally copied all the content of "www.yyyy.it" web site (wget) and searched for "www.xxxx.it" occurrences.
Nothing was found. No keywords were contained in the site metadata.
I just analyzed randomly some site's pictures but no references were found to my client.

My second hypotesis is the counterpart had used an automatic tool to increase its site's page rank, after having associated its name to
my client reference.

Do you have any idea how to verify it?



Best Regards,

Andrea Liguoro  

liguoroa
Member
 
 
  

Re: Modifying the results order in a Google search

Post Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:53 pm

I don't have anything but a passing knowledge in this area, but what you are look at is called search engine optimization (SEO). There are companies that specialize in SEO. I am not up on their current methods, but I suspect they change methodology frequently as Google and the like will want to prevent SEO companies from manipulating results. SEO essentially allows companies to boost their page ranking without paying for ads to appear at the top of search results. Do some searches on SEO or contact a company that does SEO and see if they will talk to you about their techinques.

One technique that probably still works is to create pages on another domain with the search terms you want with links to the target page. So, create reviews on a 3rd rate product review site that contains the name of your client and in that review post a link to the competitor's site. You may be able to check for this by simply searching for pages that contain your client's name and a link to the competitor's site.

Whether any of this is illegal, anti-competitive, fraudulent, or ethical is an ongoing question. There are valid arguments on both sides, but I'm of the opinion that SEO is at the very least unethical, depending on the methods employed.  

Bulldawg
Senior Member
 
 
  

Re: Modifying the results order in a Google search

Post Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:57 pm

It is also possible to do user agent sniffing to return different pages to different people. So the Google spider might see a page with different content compares to wget.

Same is also possible with IP addresses. The site might serve up different pages per country for example.

There is also the possibility that the names of the two sites are similar and the counter party's site is just more popular.

You should also have a look at the back links from the other site. See what terms are being used in links that lead to the site.

However I would have thought that it would be fairly trivial for the other company to blame Google and claim they have no control over the situation.  

Passmark
Senior Member
 
 
  

Re: Modifying the results order in a Google search

Post Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:03 pm

You may be able to check for this by simply searching for pages that contain your client's name and a link to the competitor's site.


Do you mean a google search like "link:yyyy.it xxxx" ?

Thank you very much for your suggestion
Andrea Liguoro  

liguoroa
Member
 
 
  

Re: Modifying the results order in a Google search

Post Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:45 pm

Do you mean a google search like "link:yyyy.it xxxx" ?


Yes, but Google doesn't return comprehensive results. it only found around 10% of links to our main site for example. There are other tools around of various quality however.  

Passmark
Senior Member
 
 
  

Re: Modifying the results order in a Google search

Post Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:07 am

Thank you for your answer...
Could you tell me the name of those tools? I would like to use them....

Best Regards,

Andrea Liguoro  

liguoroa
Member
 
 
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