Has Google hosted malware? SafeBrowsing says: Yes

Screen shot of Google.com on Google SafeBrowsing tool

Screen shot of Google.com on Google SafeBrowsing tool - CLICK, ENLARGE and READ

It all happened unintentionally. I was trying to find out if a particular site has hosted malicious software, acted as an intermediary for further distribution of malware, etc. using the SafeBrowsing Tool of Google, which is now part of Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

But, absentmindedly I typed Google.com instead of the site I was supposed to test. So, I landed up at: http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=google.com

Within seconds I got the results, which I found to be funny as well as thought-provoking. So here it goes partly (read the full report in the screen shot above – CLICK to ENLARGE IT):

Safe Browsing: Diagnostic page for google.com

The first question: What is the current listing status for google.com? In the standard readymade language it says: “not currently listed as suspicious”.

The second question: What happened when Google visited this site?

The answer is truly amazing as it does not exclude Google from its diagnostic results, and it says, “over the past 90 days, 16 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent” (read the rest from the screen shot above, or make a real-time check of SafeBrowsing for Google.com).

The diagnostic result further says the malicious software included: “232 trojan(s), 71 exploit(s), 15 worm(s)”, and lists further damages and “Successful infection” on target machines, and more such details.

And Google says: “13 domain(s) appear to be functioning as intermediaries” for malware distribution that includes an SEO firm, and an advertising company working on a similar style as Google AdSense.

Also the diagnostic report says Google.com appeared “to function as an intermediary for the infection of 35 site(s)” and lists some of them.

And the next question is: Has this site hosted malware? And the emphatic answer is: “Yes, this site has hosted malicious software over the past 90 days. It infected 153 domain(s), including…” and lists some of the infected sites.

And here comes the most interesting part: “Next steps: If you are the owner of this web site, you can request a review of your site using Google Webmaster Tools”.

So, is google.com going to request a review of itself using Google Webmaster Tools?
And the most important question that comes to my mind is: If Google can get this report, can’t they tighten the security measures and prevent further distribution of malware and Trojans?

Does the Google algorithm update fight content farms?

As you already know, there have been some recent changes in Google algorithms aimed at providing better search results for Google searches. I have read various reports, blog posts and all sorts of nondescript stuff on it.

Some of the articles I went through say that the Google algorithm change is targeted against content farms that mass-produce highly search-relevant articles and other stuff including videos. It is argued that Google seeks to reduce the rankings of such sites, and bring high-quality original content on the top of Google search results.

Google search-users might not have felt the difference, because the change in the effect of the new algorithm may take some time, as new search indexing replaces the already indexed pages in the cache. As Google claims to improve the user-experience with every change in algorithms, most people are of the opinion that the change will produce better results by booting out content farms.

There are others who feel that it can turn out for the worse, because the search results that were way down the front pages of the SERPs may replace some of the top results. These can be sites that had low-quality content as determined by the previous Google algorithm updates.

If high-quality content comes up in the top searches, and Google actually reduces the relevance of content farms on top search results, the real beneficiaries will be those people who produce top quality original content, and it can include bloggers, journalists, researchers, and others who regularly bring out original content.

What are content farms?

First of all Google does not say that the new algorithm update is aimed against content farms. All it refers to is low-quality content. But most people in the know-of-things say that the change is aimed against content farms.

As the name suggests, content farms are websites that publish large quantity of content that are optimized for top search rankings, but the content may not be original, or of top quality. These companies aim at high advertising revenue, as they top in searches and get heavy organic traffic.

They usually hire content writers paying as low as $5 per article (of say 500 words); whereas a journalist or a content writer or copy-writer may charge in hundreds of dollars per article. But the people writing for content farms also make good amount of money by writing several articles a day from data collected from several original sources.

Such mass-produced articles are published by sites or companies that are known as content farms. Highly optimized content (because they too use some algorithms to find out the highly paying keywords using which the articles are written), coupled with large number of pages published by them help them come on top of the results for most of the high-paying keywords and keyword phrases. Such search results brings them huge advertising revenue.

Beginners’ Guide to Landing Pages

What is a landing page? Typically it is any page on your site to which you want to drive traffic to. It can be your first page or index page or any other page.

You do so because if you are running an e-commerce site, or selling any products or services from your site, you want your visitors to sign up for the products that you sell.

If you do not have any commercial activity on your site, still you want your visitors come to this page to sign up for your newsletters, or anything that you think are important for your site.

Simple Steps to Drive Traffic to a Landing Page

There are several ways to drive traffic to your landing page. The first step is to optimize your landing page for your niche keywords and phrases.

You must also make the page more important by getting your landing page linked by various other sites through inbound links, using onsite SEO by most other pages or posts in your site linking to your landing page.

Then you shall be targeting this page in your email marketing campaigns or newsletters, PPC programs like Google AdWords and other advertising campaigns so that every dollar spent on ads bring the maximum return on investment (ROI) and conversion.

You shall also be asking your affiliate marketers, link partners and business associates to link to your landing page.

Yet another relatively easy and no-cost means of promoting your landing page is to ask your friends and followers on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. to link to your landing page from their accounts on such networks.

Untargeted or Organically Resulting Landing Pages

These types of landing pages are naturally resulting landing pages from organic searches and links from other sites. This kind of pages are usually observed in the case of sites like blogs, recreational or networking sites, etc. in which the site owners do not have any business interests.

Organically evolving landing pages are an important indication of what your visitors and readers like the most in your site.

If you use this information effectively to create more content on the topics of these top-level organic landing pages (example: as indicated by Google Analytics), the results will be highly encouraging and your traffic will increase many fold within a few days or weeks.

This type of your organic landing pages can be a surprise to you because these sometimes are the least important to you as you may have one or two random articles, not even related to what your site or bog is all about.

Multiple Landing Pages

Though most experts emphasize on single landing pages, practically you will have many more landing pages ranking next to your main landing page.

If they are a reality as your statistics show, the best thing is to make them more optimized and make them as effective as your single, most important landing page. This strategy is especially recommended if you have many products to sell, or you have multiple choices for your visitors.

Also, you can redirect your visitors from these pages by just providing links to your main landing page or just adding a phrase or sentence to prompt your visitors to ‘READ MORE’, ‘LEARN MORE’, etc. at the end, and linking them to your main landing page.

Make Your Landing Page Clutter-Free

Usually seasoned, successful marketers remove all distracting links, and even menu links to other pages and sidebars to make the visitors concentrate on the contents of the landing page and prompt them to “action”, or “buy” “or signup”. That is the very purpose of your site or blog.

So, remove all other ads, links, etc. to other sites and your own pages from the main landing page. The visitor can return to other pages after signup, or a single link saying “No Thanks”, “Later”, “Not Now”, etc. will take the reader to your other pages.

Testing the Effectiveness of Your Landing Page

The highly paid content writers, successful marketing professionals, etc. use a Split Test (also called A/B test) or Google’s Webpage Optimizer, to determine which the most effective landing page is. You too can use such tests to enhance the conversion rates of your landing page. (Conversion rate is the percentage of buyers or signups at your landing page.)

Dilute the Ad Concentration of Your Other Posts and Pages

As most of you have observed, some bogs and sites, especially those created by non-professionals, startups or beginners, are heavily and irritatingly loaded with several banner ads, links to other sites, etc.

These are usually seen at sites that want to earn from affiliate marketing or selling ads. My intention is not to discourage earning, but to encourage you to earn wisely and smartly at higher rates, and more.

How do you earn more with lesser number of ads? The logic is very simple.

Just check which affiliate banners and links paid you in the last weeks or months. You will be surprised to see many of the ads did not produce any results, while one or two brought to you some revenue.

Just remove the unproductive ads and watch how the total earnings are influenced. The results can be a huge surprise for you because the few remaining ads will bring you much more income than before, as they have lesser competition from unproductive ads and links.

Plus, with lesser number of ads and banners, your page loads faster, create the lesser user-distraction, become user-friendly and helps you earn more income. Additionally uncluttered pages and posts greatly increase the overall performance of your entire site and your landing page will start producing more revenue than before.