Search rankings for Google Mobile and ASK

Today I updated my Google search app on my phone. I had been monitoring the results on there for some time, but not in great detail. Looking at the first page only, the first hit remained – throughout this entire exercise – a link to the abandoned blog with my name listed on it. This has been the one big site which I have not been able to resolve either through outranking or through requesting content to be amended. It still has my name down as the owner of the site responsible for one of the email scams relating to Adobe and Skype products (as discussed previously, the scammers used both my stolen credit card details to pay and then used my name to register).

The update to the Google search app changed all that. Why? One little change in their app and algorithm – ranking locale specific to where you are, rather than the USA. This pushed the abandoned blog down to hit #9 immediately. A ranking I am much happier with compared to #1.

Similarly, if I use, that same problem site is #1, but If I use, it doesn’t appear at all!

Conclusions? It would seem that the only way I can get something to outrank that abandoned blog on US-based searches is to host things in a US-based way. That would be difficult, but may be necessary if I were to apply for a job in the US.

Search rankings update

Following on from the two significant recent changes, and some other SEO work done, it is time to look at the rankings again. Also, I have let my ad run down again as most of the content has been amended, and my content is ranking reasonably well.

All of the engines in question now have updated the 37prime content. Interestingly, Google was almost immediate. Ask refreshed the content two days ago, and Bing/Yahoo! updated today. It has taken around the same amount of time to de-rank the now defunct Skype forum that also had the stolen identity related content (including some slanderous remarks). Google did take longer to de-rank than to refresh content, but the timing of the other two engines was concurrent with refreshing the content. Duckduckgo is still draging the chain on the content update.

Page 1: bad results at #5 (abandoned blog) (#7 is updated 37prime) (out of 10)

Page 2: none

Page 3: #6 (abandoned blog again)

Page 1: none (out of 10) see bing below for more details

Page 2: #9

Page 3: #3

Page 1: none (out of 10) – #9 is the updated 37prime content

Page 2: #9 (this is the abandoned blog)

Page 3: #3 (same blog – it is indexed multiple times because the same story can be linked to via different URLs based on the article tags. This phenomenon held true for the 37prime blog as well; the permalink and the archive both showed up)

Page 1: #1 (the abandoned blog) (#5 is the updated 37prime post)

Page 2: #5 (same abandoned blog, through permalink)

Page 3: none!

One continuous page: result #4 (37prime), 9 (Skype forum), 11 (abandoned blog) out of a total of 33 results. It looked rather different earlier this morning – 31 results, and the content had been updated, so their sources and algorithms appear to change.

So in summary, my SEO changes seem to have had some positive results for me on Bing/Yahoo! but haven’t made any difference to Google. Ask was slightly worse, and DuckDuckGo is a mixed bag. I will keep monitoring as I do want to de-rank the abandoned blog, as well as see what is happening on DuckDuckGo.

Search rankings update

Time again to do a snapshot. Since the last snapshot, I have submitted this blog to a number of blog indicies, as well as added some new content on other sites. Cross-linking between my own pages has also been updated. Finally, the negative content on the Skype discussion board has been retired, although still appears in search engines at the moment.

Same note as last time about Yahoo! and Bing. My Google ad is appearing periodically as they keep refunding small amounts of money based upon what they believe are bogus clicks. I’m really unclear on how this is assessed, and how they decide where to run the ads (apart from geographically – which is selectable).

Page 1: bad results at #5, #8 (out of 10)

Page 2: none

Page 3: #6

Page 1: #8 (out of 10)

Page 2: #3, #6

Page 3: #2

Page 1: #8 (out of 10)

Page 2: #3, #6

Page 3: #2

Page 1: #1, #7 (exluding my ad which is running again!)

Page 2: #6

Page 3: none!

One continuous page: result #3, 6, 9 out of a total of 32 results.

Ask is definitely on the improve, with the bad results sinking (apart from that abandoned blog at number 1). Google has gone in the right direction this time, but Yahoo!/Bing is definitely worse.

DuckDuckGo has also come out worse, but strangely now has a note about the results coming from Bing and being built by Yahoo!, but with no real explanation.

So is there much else I can do at this point without spending a lot of money? Having your online brand managed seems awfully expensive, and comes with little to no guarantees. As the Skype forum data disappears from primary searches, there will be some improvement but the other two sites are looking difficult to contain. There are no doubt other repositories of this data further down the search, and the Wayback Machine will no doubt have archived much of it, but I still would like to clean up the first 3 pages, and in particular, bump the retired blog from being the first hit on Ask.

Search rankings update

Time to do another snapshot of where things are at. Same conditions as usual. Rankings do bounce around a lot, and I am only viewing them from my own searching perspective (affecting locality). I am not logged in to Google when searching, so hopefully it doesn’t tailor the answers by detecting who I am some other way.

Also of note is that I am still checking both Yahoo! and Bing results separately even though they are rapidly approaching 100% identical as their Search Alliance nears completion.

Page 1: bad results at #3,6 (out of 10)

Page 2: none

Page 3: #2

Page 1: none (out of 10)

Page 2: #1, #8

Page 3: #3, #10

Page 1: none (out of 10)

Page 2: #1, #8

Page 3: #3, #10

Page 1: #1, #4 (my ad is low on credit so no ads this time.)

Page 2: #2

Page 3: none!

One continuous page: result #8, 10, 13 out of a total of 28 results.

So what do I think of the results at the moment? Minor improvements on DuckDuckGo, and Yahoo!/Bing are much better.

The Google results are much more disappointing, although not all bad news. While the bad results on the first page have climbed somewhat, out of the top 30 results, the count is down by one and the other link is disappearing down the stack. On Ask, the search rankings have only gotten worse, and in particular I am disappointed that I am being outranked by a no longer maintained blog.

What to do next? There is more positive content up relating to me, and I’ve also done some more cross linking today. Hopefully that will assist. Also, I need to consider legal avenues on content removal – not sure what my options are in all cases. I’ve been assured that some of the content will come down shortly, but the two remaining blogs are my biggest issue and I need to see what my legal options are here. Questions are:

  1. Is this libel or something else? i.e. how do I legally define this issue.
  2. How do I get an international court order for take-down of the content?

Search rankings update

Time to do another snapshot of where things are at. Bear in mind that rankings do bounce around a lot, and I am only viewing them from my own searching perspective (affecting locality). I am not logged in to Google when searching, so hopefully it doesn’t tailor the answers by detecting who I am some other way.

Page 1: bad results at #5,7 (out of 10)

Page 2: #9

Page 3: #5

Page 1: #9 (out of 10)

Page 2: #3, #9, #10

Page 3: #2, #8

Page 1: #9 (out of 10)

Page 2: #3, #9, #10

Page 3: #2, #8

Page 1: #3, #5 (out of 10; excluding my ads inserted between 1 & 2, and at the end.)

Page 2: #3

Page 3: none!

One continuous page: result #5, 6, 12 out of a total of 27 results. One less result here is a good thing in this context.

Bing and Yahoo! are looking a lot better on the first page. Very happy with that. Ask has improved slightly on page 1, and Google has made no difference to page one. Duckduckgo has also improved a little, as all of the engines have improved at least a little in the lower ranks.

Overall, there are signs of improvement but still a lot more to do. First impressions count, so my focus is on the first page; but I still want to be more thorough than that.

Spam irony, and the same scammers are still out there

In a twist of irony, I have now been sent the same type of spam as the one that was created using my stolen credit card details and name earlier this year.

This time, the content of the spam is (with extra spaces in the URLs to break them):
[sourcecode language=”html”]
Dear Shawn Sijnstra,

This is to notify that new updates have been released for Skype.

http://www. official – skype –

Following are major new features :

* Up to 5-way group video call.
* Redesigned calling experience.
* Improved video snapshots gallery.
* Improved browser plugins performance on some websites.
* Reduced false positives on browser plugin phone number recognition.
* New presence icons.
* Improved handling of calling attempts made when the user has run out of credit.
* Improved access to sharing functionality

To download the latest version , go to :

http://www. official – skype –

Start downloading the update right now and let us know what you think
about it.

Talk soon,

The people at SkypeUnsubscribe (

It would appear to be the same group as the whois record for the address is registered in the same way, with the same or similar registrar, with the same fields used and a very similar address used. I have left the name of the registrant out for obvious reasons:

% By submitting a query to RU-CENTER's Whois Service
% you agree to abide by the following terms of use:
% (in Russian)
% (in English).

Domain name:             OFFICIAL-SKYPE-UPDATE.COM
Name Server:
Name Server:
Creation Date:           2011.09.27
Updated Date:            2011.09.28
Expiration Date:         2012.09.27

Status:                  DELEGATED

Registrant ID:           QH9BLSG-RU
Registrant Name:         
Registrant Organization: 
Registrant Street1:      1039 Avenue Street
Registrant City:         New York
Registrant Postal Code:  10023
Registrant Country:      US

Administrative, Technical Contact
Contact ID:              QH9BLSG-RU
Contact Name:            
Contact Organization:    
Contact Street1:         1039 Avenue Street
Contact City:            New York
Contact Postal Code:     10023
Contact Country:         US
Contact Phone:           +1 800 2379293
Contact E-mail:

Registrar:               Regional Network Information Center, JSC dba RU-CENTER

Last updated on 2011.09.28 10:34:48 MSK/MSD

The individual whose name was used has a much more common name so hopefully does not have the same issues I have.

Status update on search engine results

So at this point I would like to record where the negative results (due to the credit card and identity theft) are turning up so I can track how well the good results are percolating up. I should have started tracking these earlier as I’ve already had 1 reference successfully removed (it no longer shows up in any of these search engines), and some new pages I’ve created have shown up in the top 3 pages.

Page 1: bad results at #5,7 (out of 10)

Page 2: #1, #7

Page 3: #5, #10

Page 1: result #6, #9 (out of 10)

Page 2: result #4, #9, #10

Page 3: result #3, #6

page 1: result #6, #9 (out of 10)

page 2: result #4, #9, #10

page 3: result #3, #6

page 1: result #1, #5 (out of 10; excluding my ads inserted between 1 & 2, and at the end. The abandoned blog beats my ad!)

page 2: result #5

page 3: result #1

page 1: result #5, 6, 7, 11, 21 out of a total of 28 results. Clearly I’m not popular enough on duckduckgo.

I still have my work cut out for me!

Trying the simple things first

So I thought I would try the simplest (or apparently simplest) approach first. Ask people nicely to remove my name – not their article as their work has much value as an example of what to look out for in spam that might indicate phishing attacks. The more information out there about not trusting every detail of unsolicited email from strangers (even if they purport to be from familiar places), the better.

I decided on the top 4, which covered the first 3 pages of google results. A blogspot blog, and 3 personal blogs. Here is what has happened with them so far. Bad news first.

The Blogspot blog appears to be abandoned. The post containing my name is the last post on there, and it is now 7 months later. While I have asked on there to have my name removed, I doubt it will have much impact, but I shall try again. Asking the hosting service to edit or remove the page isn’t an option at this point. Blogger is owned by Google, and as such will only take down pages if there is a matching court order. I will pester again. Sadly, this is a very prominent result.

One blog allowed me to submit an email to the author, however, it then disappeared in to a black hole. I will have to bug this one again.

One blog had no way of contacting them at all. I tried to guess email addresses but they all bounced or were undeliverable. I will need to rethink this one.

The one that worked….

So one of the bloggers I contacted understood immediately, and removed my name, replacing it with the word ‘redacted’. Perfect! Of course this now needed Google to know about the change, so luckily he had a sitemap.xml already present, so I could just add a bit of link juice and after about a week it was updated and no longer showing. Thank you Geoff Fox for appreciating the situation, and responding so quickly!

First plans of attack to reclaim my identity

So the first step to drawing up a plan of attack is to work out what is the outcome I am after.

So what do I want?

It would be awfully convenient if none of these pages ever turned up again, but that isn’t going to happen and may not even be what I want.

My primary goal is to ensure that if my name is searched on any major search engine, the first 2-3 pages of hits do not associate me with any of the negative fallout of having my name misappropriated. Once that has been achieved, I can see whether I can do better than that.

As I mentioned previously, I do want the bulk of the information in these pages to remain available, but without the reference to my misappropriated details. For brevity, I’ll refer to these negative references caused by the abuse of the misappropriated details as “the fallout”.

So then what are the possible angles of attack to recover my name?

  • Increase ranking of positive references to my name over the other pages.
  • Removal of my name from the inappropriate and negative pages from search results.

Where do I want these removed or rank lowered?

  • Search engines: Google, Bing, Yahoo
  • Metasearch engines:
  • People profiling sites: Pipl
  • More amitious targets: DuckDuckGo

So now that I have an indea of what it is I want to achieve, what are my options?

Based on feedback from my very good friends, there are a few things I will try.

  • Build a site to explain the situation and link to the good material on the internet
  • Use Google ads to improve site ranking of a site describing the situation
  • Ask the people to remove my name from the offending pages
  • Get people to go on a clicking campaign on my behalf to help the good results turn up first
  • Remove my name from people indexing aggregators that associate me with the fallout

As I implement these, I will write up caveats, hits, misses and take on any extra ideas from you!

Reclaiming your name after credit card theft

The Situation

In February this year, my Credit Card details were stolen. I received a phone call from Citibank identifying a fraudulent transaction (kudos to them!). I confirmed this, the card was cancelled and replaced, and the money re-credited. I also found another transaction on there at about the same time, where someone had purchased something from a Russian domain registrar. I was surprised at the time about how much you could spend at the registrar, but I filled out the paperwork for Citibank, had the money re-credited immediately, and all was right with the world. Or so I thought.

The Fallout

So it turns out that my credit card details were used to register a lot of websites. These websites were used as some kind of presumably honeypot scams via email spam, directing them to dodgy URLs offering free upgrades to Skype and Adobe products. How do I know this? My name is rather rare (I suspect unique world-wide), so when I Google searched my name a little while ago, rather than seeing a list of interesting and good deeds I may have done, I saw websites like “stupid scammers” come up. Now I’m very much in favour of these sites remaining up, because I would like people to be generally aware of such scams and be able to easily identify them as such. What adds insult to injury for me is that not only did the scammers use my stolen credit card to pay for the domain name registration, they also used my name as the technical contact, administrative contact and company name. This means that when people went to investigate the scam sites using whois, my name came up.

Why do I care?

At the moment I am looking for work, and so my Google search profile is very important to me. I would like the first impressions to be good. So when I started checking in to my current profile and found my good name to be associated with these scams above any other things that I’ve done, I was less than impressed. Secondly, as an IT professional, these scams are particularly badly done and make me look bad in my own field of broader expertise.

How do I know that every time I apply for a job, someone  isn’t Google searching my name and ruling me out just-in-case? I want to reclaim my name.

What am I doing about it?

I”ll be trying quite a few options, and I’m also soliciting other ideas from the internet at large (that includes you!) I do not expect this to be a fast process, but something I want to see how far I can get; with the intent of sharing my experiences and what to do if the same thing happens to you. I will also look at issues around Bing and sites like Pipl, but luckily the stupid scammer stuff is buried much deeper on those.