This morning I was working on a problem that I was having with a tool called Advanced Web Ranking. I just purchased a new faster computer and I wanted to migrate the setting and projects from one computer to the other. As per usual my first stop when I have a problem is to head to Google and check to see how others have solved the issue before.
I have been working through this problem for a few days and I have been in touch with the AWR support team via their forums. I thought that I had done an exhaustive search to find an answer but this morning I decided to give it one more shot. So I opened up google, typed in my query and to my absolute surprise I found a Google result linking me to youtube that promised to answer my EXACT pain.
I clicked on the link and was taken to a video that looked liked it was legitimate. The name of the poster was Advanced Web Ranking, their was an icon or logo that I was familiar with. But when I started to watch the video I noticed that it seemed more like a commercial than a content video. There was no skip this video button, or an announcement that it was an ad. And after a few seconds I began to become suspicious. I watched the video in its entirety and that’s when I realized what was going on.
Someone was trying to funnel legitimate search traffic away from AWR to a competitive service. There were dozens of these videos in the channel.
So I decided to investigate a little further. They had a channel established with dozens of videos, but I then noticed that each video had 301 video plays. You should have seen my excitement when I realized what I had just stumbled in to!
Here is a video to show you my process of trying to figure this out – LIVE!
If you watched the video you’ll see how I used Google images to track down the company by using their “about us” picture as the seeder for a reverse image search. I then found similarities between this image and some other companies. And by following the trail of clues I was able to determine the name of the company and the services that were used in this promotion.
I used Google image search to start the process of figuring out who was behind this process.
I then used the “reviews” text to find the other sites that are linked to this company.
I have let the folks at Advanced Web Ranker know about this problem and hopefully they can deal with it before it becomes a contamination for their search results and it impacts their business.
The links to the sites that I found or used during this process: