Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Some Tracking Companies Stealing Links

In my explorations to keep up with tracking solutions and ROI technology I came across Stats Counter and figured I would check out what they offered and how they worked.
Google shows they have 455,000 inbound links - impressive feat.

Curious as to the origin of who was giving them praise with a link I went to look and see how the links were set up.

I randomly tried the UCSD Registrar's page - an edu extension that is always hot to Google.

Unfortunately I could not see any mention of Stat Counter on the page!
So going to the video tape, I pulled the source code and did another search, only to find the following code:

{!-- Start of StatCounter Code --}
{script type="text/javascript" language="javascript"}
var sc_project=426260;
var sc_partition=2;
var sc_invisible=1;

{script type="text/javascript" language="javascript" src=""}{/script}{noscript}{a href="" #target="_blank"}{img src="" alt="free hit counter" border="0"}{/a}
{!-- End of StatCounter Code --}

Now if you pull the image, even that is not shown on the page. It is hidden in the no script section and on the server side the invisible instruction to the serverside php decoder sends back an invisible response....

Anyway you cut this, Stats Counter has found a great way of spamming the search engines - and if that was it I would say okay you have every right to work any way you want - BUT the fact that it is counted as part of the outbound links for a given site (455,000 of them to date) is another issue. I do not see anywhere in their info where they ask for this link.

I am off to see what other web analytic companies are using this approach.

I did call over to Stats Counter and they said you can remove the offending reference if you have the upgraded service - but it is not publically announced and is not referenced on the website. Interesting approach!

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