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Q: Google searches for web sites ( Answered,   8 Comments )
Subject: Google searches for web sites
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: skip9801-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 11 Apr 2004 04:58 PDT
Expires: 11 May 2004 04:58 PDT
Question ID: 328399
I have a web site, along with a domain name that I registered for it.

Problem is, when a google search for the site finds the main page, the
small blurb of text below the first line of the page isn't text from
the site but instead a small one-line advertisement from my web
hosting company that says "Web Hosting | Dedicated Servers | Domain
Names by

I would like to know why this is what google is placing as part of the
find and how to stop it.

Request for Question Clarification by serenata-ga on 11 Apr 2004 16:33 PDT
This could be just a glitch, or perhaps a cache problem, but it would
help to have the URL so we could take a look and help solve the

If you furnish the URL, perhaps we can give you the answer and how to fix it.


Google Answers Researcher
Subject: Re: Google searches for web sites
Answered By: hailstorm-ga on 11 Apr 2004 19:01 PDT

If your site is being hosted on, I am sorry to say that I
think they are doing things behind your back to promote their own
services at the expense of yours.

Since I do not have the URL for the site in question, I did a Google
search for "Web Hosting | Dedicated Servers | Domain Names by" to see if I could find other sites so afflicted.  One of
the sites that came up was  However,
looking at the source of this site, I could not find text that
references anywhere on the page.

It is possible that what Google is seeing when crawling the page is
different than what normal users see when viewing the site through
their browsers.  Through a process called "cloaking", some
unscrupulous sites use programming to monitor the name of the browser
accessing the site.  If it detects a normal browser like IE or
Netscape, the code is shown normally.  But if the code detects a
search engine spidering programming from a search engine such as
Google or Yahoo the result may be an entirely different result,
customized in such a way as to maximize search engine exposure. 
Possibly in this case, is doing this for all or some of the
sites hosted on their servers.

To test this theory, I used an online resource called Rex Swain's HTTP
Viewer, located at  With this
tool, we can access a site with different identities, known in
internet speak as a "User Agent", to see whether or not the server is
sending different content based on what is viewing it.  First, we will
access the site with the following information to make us look like a
typical IE 5.0 user:

Site Name:
User Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.01; Windows NT 5.0)

The results of this test shows that "" or any of the other
advertising text is not found anywhere on the site that is seen by
normal visitors.

Now we will set up a test to access the site as if we were a Google
program, crawling the internet in search of information to index in
its search engine:

Site Name:
User Agent: Googlebot/2.1 (+

Doing this, we find a section of code showing up that was curiously
absent during our previous example:

    <a href="">Web Hosting</a>&nbsp;|&nbsp;
    <a href="">Dedicated Servers</a>&nbsp;|&nbsp;
    <a href="">Domain Names</a> by

This code shows up six times throughout the source code for this page.

From this test, it appears that is hijacking this site when
it determines that search engines are accessing it, for the purpose of
placing it's own advertising information at the forefront when user's
searching the internet are attempting to find this site.  I would say
that there is a very good chance that the same thing is happening to
your site as well.  Whether or not this constitutes a violation of the
Terms of Service agreement you may have with them is something you may
need to research;  if it is, some restitution may be in order.

On another note, I've seen a number of complaints regarding the
service of the hosting company, such as this one:

So it may be in your best interest to migrate your site to another,
less invasive service provider.

Sites Referenced:

Google Search Terms Used:
    "Web Hosting | Dedicated Servers | Domain Names by"
    "user-agent" HTML source url google
Subject: Re: Google searches for web sites
From: is1231-ga on 23 Apr 2004 14:53 PDT
It seems that Aplus.Net resolved the issue.
Subject: Re: Google searches for web sites
From: skip9801-ga on 24 Apr 2004 03:43 PDT
Thanks for letting me know about's action to stop this
advertising that was at my expense.

As it is, I've spent the past couple of weeks reviewing other web
hosting services and may move to lunarpages since it looks like they
will host four small youth recreational web sites that I manage that
I'm paying $10 / each a month to for.  Looks like lunarpages
will host up to three or four multiple accounts for a much cheaper

Thanks again!
Subject: Re: Google searches for web sites
From: hailstorm-ga on 27 Apr 2004 04:23 PDT
Wow, didn't think this would end up being such a big story!  Hope this
serves as a warning to all other hosting services to keep clean.
Subject: Re: Google searches for web sites
From: skip9801-ga on 28 Apr 2004 03:21 PDT
I found perplexing a comment that I recall in one of the references you sent me.

It was saying that they had no idea this advertising was
taking place and that it was the result of something one of their
"subcontractors" was doing.
Subject: Re: Google searches for web sites
From: airgin-ga on 30 Apr 2004 12:45 PDT
Well, I did a little research on this topic myself and a quick search
in Google ( for the site's backlinks show's 34,400
links pointing to the site.  That's a heck of a lot for a hosting
company.  So I checked the first result that wasn't one of their own
sites and turns out it's been cloaked.  The url is and when you view the source you can't find
any reference to anywhere in the code.  I may do some
more digging into this on my own but it appears the PR statement they
released was just a lie and I'm shocked they haven't been banned from
Google yet, especially since there is a Google Answers thread on the
subject.  If need be I'll fire off an email to a couple folks to have
it thoroughly investigaged.

~jason dowdell
pronounced: (dow-dell) Dow like Dow Jones, Dell like Dell computers
Subject: some harsh live talk with sales person 06.05.2004.
From: mentalsalami-ga on 06 May 2004 08:53 PDT
some harsh live talk with sales person 06.05.2004. 
(sorry for my quick english) 

sales person DAN (in text called DanB).
im as Visitor74157

DanB: Hello! How may I help you?
Visitor74157: what the hell is this?
DanB: hi
Visitor74157: hi
DanB: How can I help you?
Visitor74157: how long will it tak to your company to answer on my questions? 
Visitor74157: why are you putting ads in google
Visitor74157: behind your customers back?
DanB: ?
DanB: what can I help you with?
DanB: You looking for hosting?
DanB: designs
DanB: servers
Visitor74157: are you putting banners in your customers web pages?
DanB: no
DanB: do you want to buy something?
Visitor74157: yes
Visitor74157: are you putting advertising in your customers google serch metatags?


Visitor74157: ?
DanB: ?
DanB: what can I help with?
Visitor74157: can you answer on my question? - simple question
DanB: can you answer mine?
DanB: simple
DanB: Were on my site looking for hosting?
Visitor74157: : are you putting advertising in your customers google
serch metatags?
DanB: I dont even no what your talking about.
DanB: Why?
DanB: I am sure we advertise all over the Net
Visitor74157: becouse i wouldnt like to buy service with your
advertising behind it. that why im asking
DanB: We dont?
Visitor74157: im reading following in web host industry review mag:
Visitor74157: According to users of the Webhosting Talk
( message board
Visitor74157: San Diego-based Web hosting provider may be
using the Web sites of its customers,
Visitor74157: without their knowledge, to promote its own ranking
within search engine algorithms.
DanB: you in Estonia?
Visitor74157: yes im
DanB: Tallin?
Visitor74157: so?
DanB: just wondering.
Visitor74157: what about? can you just answer my question?


DanB: I you still there
Visitor74157: yes im
DanB: Do you want to buy something?
Visitor74157: i would like to know something, before i buy something
DanB: whats that?
Visitor74157: during this conversation i hade just one question.
Visitor74157: ok dan i think your company owns too many awards...
DanB: Well were the best!
Visitor74157: ... this conversation is tracked for your nominators,
and for your future custumers to get reasonable scope about situation
Visitor74157: thanks
DanB: Bye
Subject: Re: Google searches for web sites
From: mel_dvm-ga on 20 Oct 2004 06:15 PDT
I just read this post and I am completely shocked that would
do this sort of thing.  It is absolutely unacceptable!

For them to say that they had no idea it was happening is ludicrous. 
I have always considered them as part of the A list of hosting
companies but not any longer.

Subject: Re: Google searches for web sites
From: kevinbim-ga on 19 Jan 2005 05:03 PST
As a current customer of aPlus I can tell you that while they are not
outright scam artists, they are definitely not the kind of company
that you can do business with on a handshake.  If all you need is very
generic personal or even business hosting and you won't use up too
much of a server's resources they're fine, but (even moreso than
usual) meticulously read all the Terms and Service Agreements before
you sign up.  Do not take their free domain registration under any
circumstances, just go register your own at GoDaddy.

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