Google is huge, and it continues to shatter records. This month, Google broke an Internet traffic record, and the search giant now represents about 6.4 percent of all global Internet traffic, according to Arbor Networks Security.
ComScore report that for the three month period ending April 2010, that more smartphone users accessed maps via applications, than maps via mobile browser in a month.
Experian Hitwise today announced that Google accounted for 72.17 percent of all U.S. searches conducted in the four weeks ending May 29, 2010. Yahoo! Search, Bing and Ask received 14.43 percent, 9.23 percent and 2.14 percent, respectively.
As long as advertisers pay for clicks, there will be click fraud. And the more people combat it, the more sophisticated the attacks become to get around the defenses that advertisers, search engines, and others put in place. But a recent click fraud ring discovered by click-fraud monitoring service Anchor Intelligence suggests that the practice is evolving to a scale never seen before.
Anchor Intelligence identified a click fraud ring being run out of China which involved 200,000 different IP addresses and racked up more than $3 million worth of fraudulent clicks across 2,000 advertisers in a two-week period. That money was never paid out and the ring has now dissipated (or moved onto another scam), but who knows how long the ring was in operation before Anchor noticed. The operation was called DormRing1 because it was centered in dorms at technical universities in China such as the Shanghai Technology Institute.
“We have seen 200 fraud rings,” says Anchor VP Richard Sim, “and this one by far trumps them all. I think it is indicative of how sophisticated the click fraud is getting. We are seeing the sheer scale and size of these rings growing.”
Click fraud occurs when someone sets up a website, signs up with an ad network, and then clicks on the ads to generate ad revenues with false clicks. DormRing1 operated the same way, except it easily involved more than 1,000 people who set up more than 10,000 Websites to spread out the fraud. The image above depicts a portion of the ring, with each red dot representing a source of fraudulent clicks with similar digital signatures. (Anchor monitors such activity on behalf of advertising clients).
Spreading the click fraud out across thousands of sites makes it harder to detect, but it also requires a lot more people to perpetrate it. DormRing1 recruited student click fraud workers on Chinese social networks where and forums participants would post images of checks they were getting for their activities. One drummed up interest by talking about his plans to buy a car with the proceeds. Just like with any criminal organization, people at the lower rungs had to do a lot of grunt work to move up the ladder of trust and money. A briefing paper provided by Anchor describes the operation:
These social networks involve a complex set of user access levels. The baseline entrance level is only available by invitation; access to sensitive information is restricted solely to those users who have attained the highest levels. Users with the uppermost levels of access are able to purchase root kits to engage in fraudulent activity and contract out phases of their fraud operations to a large network of willing participants. Users reach higher levels of access in one of two ways: either through a vouching system or by proving themselves as valuable contributors to the network through the provision of some ground level of services (e.g. contracting to create hundreds of accounts on various websites).
DormRing1 was able to use these exclusive social networks to create a division of labor in which all participants at the highest levels shared in a percentage of profits from an operation. The students involved in the ring each set up dozens of bare-bones websites, and successfully registered them with multiple ad networks. The students then hired the services of several botnet controllers to systematically click on ad links that were displayed on these sites. For each ad click, the publisher made a percentage of what the advertiser paid for that click. Through this network, the perpetrators were able to contract money mules (i.e. people with US addresses to which checks can be sent), traffic generators / botnet herders, website template developers, and a host of other service providers. After monetizing these fake websites via fraudulent ad clicks, the perpetrators then wired money to their various contractors.
Remember, we only know these details because DormRing1 was stopped. But nobody was arrested. The advertisers just stopped making payments to the fraudulent Websites. You can be pretty sure that DormRing2 is already up and running.
Over at the official Bing blog, Principal Group Program Manager Rajesh Srivastava is offering up some tips on how to conduct search engine optimization (SEO) for their engine.
Much of Srivastava’s advice is your basic SEO tips that you would apply for Google or Yahoo! But for you beginners out there, drill these SEO principles into your head:
- Develop great, original content (including well-implemented keywords) directed toward your intended audience
- Use well-architected code in your webpages (including images and Sitemaps) so that users’ web browsers and search engine crawlers can read the content you want indexed)
- Earn several, high-quality, authoritative inbound links
Bing has a Webmaster Center, similar to Google’s Webmaster Central. Use it to help Bing index your site and improve your results even further. Here are tips for using Bing’s Webmaster Center:
- Review the Bing official guidelines for successful indexing document for various recommendations on technical and content issues as well as known problems that can affect your site’s rank
- Visit the Webmaster Center blog to keep up with the latest information from the team (you can even subscribe to our blog’s RSS feed to automate this process)
- Register all of your websites with Bing Webmaster Center tools, where you can use our tools to see all sorts of data to your website pertinent to webmasters
- Participate in our Webmaster Center user forums to ask questions and provide us with feedback
Firefox is nearly at 50% market share!
Browser Statistics Month by Month
Thank you w3schools for the stats
YouTube is now allowing advertisers to incorporate a “Call-to-Action overlay” on their videos. With the overlay, advertisers can drive traffic to their sites where they can make purchases, sign up for email newsletters or whichever action an advertiser wishes.
The Call-to-Action overlays are available for Promoted Videos only. Promoted Videos, you may remember, are essentially the paid search of YouTube. They were once called Sponsored Videos, similar to paid search listings called Sponsored Listings.
In order to set up the overlay:
1. Set up your Promoted Video campaign like you normally would in YouTube
2. Under My Videos, go to the Video Details page
3. Fill out the fields for the Call-to-Action overlay section
You’re all set. Once the campaign is in full swing, you can check YouTube Insight to see how many people are clicking on the Call-to-Action overlay.
Google has released a new version of its AdWords Editor and there are some new features to look forward to.
CSV import has been added. Google says this was requested by many advetisers. Making changes on a spreadsheet or custom app can now be imported.
Next is the ability to download selected campaigns. You no longer have to endure long waits while your entire account downloads. Just select the campaigns you wish to download and go about your business.
The Keyword Opportunities feature has been updated. You can now sort by topical category. Also, when you export or copy keywords, the Keywords Opportunity column is now included.
Sort data by up to 3 columns.
A new Keyword Count column allows you to sort by number of keywords.
Resume account download prevents download progress from being lost is a download is interrupted for some reason.
A progress bar will let you know where you are at in the process of a given task in AdWords Editor.
You can select duplicates in order of appearance.
Usage tracking gives you the opportunity to share anonymous data in order to improve AdWords Editor.
New languages in this version include:
Google is issuing a significant update to its policy on Trademarks in AdWords ad text. Trademarks will now be allowed in ad text, in the U.S. only, under the following circumstances:
- Ads which use the term in a descriptive or generic way, and not in reference to the trademark owner or the goods or services corresponding to the trademark term.
- Ads which use the trademark in a nominative manner to refer to the trademark or its owner, specifically:
- Resale of the trademarked goods or services: The advertiser’s site must sell (or clearly facilitate the sale of) the goods or services corresponding to a trademark term. The landing page of the ad must clearly demonstrate that a user is able to purchase the goods or services corresponding to a trademark from the advertiser.
- Sale of components, replacement parts or compatible products corresponding to a trademark: The advertiser’s site must sell (or clearly facilitate the sale of) the components, replacement parts or compatible products relating to the goods or services of the trademark. The advertiser’s landing page must clearly demonstrate that a user is able to purchase the components, parts or compatible products corresponding to the trademark term from the advertiser.
- Informational sites: The primary purpose of the advertiser’s site must be to provide non-competitive and informative details about the goods or services corresponding to the trademark term. Additionally, the advertiser may not sell or facilitate the sale of the goods or services of a competitor of the trademark owner.
In the not-so-distant past, sites built using Adobe’s Flash technology were invisible to search engines. Both search engines and SEOs have continued to work on ways to make those pages show up better in search results. Last summer, Adobe lent a hand, by providing its Flash technology to Google and Yahoo to help them figure out how to better index sites and pages created with Flash.
This week, Adobe went a step further, launching a new SEO Technology Center for Flash to help developers and other content creators build Flash applications in more search-friendly ways. The site, part of the Adobe Developer Connection, explains current SEO challenges and provides practical steps, examples, and best practices to overcome them.
Adobe advises setting up separate HTML pages for each important topic area of your site, and deep-linking to the proper area of the SWF file from each of those pages. That’s a best practice for non-Flash SEO as well, since a page that focuses more on a given topic is likely to rank better for keywords around that topic, while a page with six or seven topics is not likely to rank well for any of them.
There’s lots more great content on the new SEO Technology Center for Flash, so if you’ve got a site that uses Flash, or are considering building one, you should definitely take the time to read as much as you can about it before moving forward.