May 15, 2008 at 2:57 pm | blabbing, web.

I ran across a strange thing today. I was looking through my site stats and I starting noticing strange site referrers. Upon further investigation I found a link farm site that was taking a post I made harping about customer service at musicians Friend and using it as part of a link farm site that would redirect users to guess where???? Musicians Friend…..

To give you a better idea what link farm is, link farming is the practice of Black Hat Seo companies to artificially stuff search engines with false links to drive traffic to certain sites.

The user will see the link and think that they are going to a legitimate article or story or blog post etc… But the user is instead sent to a farm page.

Link farm search result

Link Farm PageThe farm page will look kinda strange because it will not have any of the content that you came there for. In fact you might not even see this page because the browser will then be hijacked and forward you to a site of the link farms choosing. In this case Musicians Friend.

Link Farm Content HTML sourceHow exactly did your content get a user to this page? Well if you remove the “styles” from the page you see that your content is actually in the page after all but the Stylesheet is keeping it from being seen. But the search engines see it. They see it just fine. To the search engines this page looks like it is stuffed full of content. The search spiders just look at the content on this page and chomp at the bit.. No pun intended.

The tough part comes when these sites get kicked by search engines and the good money that a company pays to drown out or re-direct all the content they don’t want associated with them comes roaring back into the listings. Sometimes the search engines will even punish the target re-direct as well. Many companies have been driven out of business when they are kicked from the search engines for this kinda traffic driving. The seven sites that I found link farming my content were all hosted at (expensive enterprise hosting) and all had Domains by Proxy hosting, meaning they didn’t want anybody to know who they were.

Link Farm Sites
(Pictures used so as not to give these retards more traffic)

So this begs the question… Is Musicians Friend paying these guys to increase rankings? Do they even know how they are doing it? I don’t think that these companies are stuffing links to Musicians Friend out of the kindness of their own heart.

My next question is oh course Who is Ben Meisner? This may not be obvious but work with me on this. You see if you do a tracert (traceroute command) to any of those Rackspace servers you get a certain IP address, when you lookup the person or company associated with that IP address you get something like the record below which says that it is in Australia and linked to a Ben Meisner. Who runs a series of labyrinth like link farm shell sites that all lead back to him and Labscorp in Potts Point, New South Wales Australia.

Who is Ben Meisner?

Thankfully this particular set of link farm sites was only operating on Microsoft’s Live Search. Another reason Google kicks ass.