eHow Scam- Using Google Image to Steal Traffic From its Own WCP Writers

6:26 PM Posted by GloryBug


eHow's Newest Scam- Stealing Traffic by Using eHow WCP's own Photos Against Them in Google Image Search

I have had some niggling thoughts lately about eHow's use of US WCP writer's profiles to artificially prop up their faux UK site, but even more so, I've been thinking about all the recent photo bugs writer's have been experiencing.  Not being able to publish articles with photos, photos disappearing from articles... while at the same time being told by Julie in management that one of the components of the secret eHow WCP algorithm pay is photos.  Think, think, think, I told myself.  Follow the money.

eHow management gave me a clue when they quoted part of their TOU when a writer asked about their profile image, avatar or photo.... and that part of the TOU states eHow can use any 'material' including photos, pretty much as they see fit.  But, I really couldn't find any examples of  eHow using my photos on anyone else's articles.  I asked point-blank in a forum if eHow felt they had the right to use my photos on other people's articles, but got no reply.

So, I looked at it from a different angle.

Google Image Search
I'm not sure how many people use Google Image search- I'd guess quite a lot.  I use it a lot.  When I am searching for a particular term, it's so much easier to sort through visuals than to have to read each article to see if it's what I was looking for.  For example, if you search the term 'SparkleJet' on regular Google, the first link to come up is a link to my fiance's band's discography.  Please don't click on that- they get no residuals if you buy from there!  However, 2 slots down is his band's Myspace page.  Click there if you'd like.  But, let's suppose you were not interested in my fiance's band.  Or in web designers.  Or most of what appears on front page Google.  Let's say you want to read about Sparklejet Gretch Guitars?  If you look up in the left-hand corner where it says 'web, image, video', etc.,  and click on 'images', it will take you to the Google Image pages where you can see pictures of guitars and find the page you were really looking for.

What does any of this have to do with eHow?  Glad you asked.  Using that same type of search, follow me here....
Let's say I wanted to find out how to lose weight by drinking vegetable juice.  If you type the term 'lose weight vegetable juice' into regular Google, in the 6th slot is an article called 'How to Lose Weight with Vegetable Juice'.  Yay- that's my article!  But, don't click on that, click on the little button at the top of the page that says 'images'.  See that 5th picture, the one with the veggie juice and the celery?  That was taken in my kitchen.  But, it's not titled correctly.  In my article it is titled '8oz of vegetable juice'.  If you click on it, it takes you to my article.  Good.  But wait.... there's my pix again, in slot 7.  This picture has been resized, and is bigger, though.  And, again, it's not titled correctly.  When you click it, it takes you to an article ON eHOW titled 'How to Understand If Vegetable Juice Can Help You Lose Weight'.  Whoa..... I didn't write that article!  How'd they get my picture?

Hmmm.  if you change the search terms to 'how lose weight vegetable juice' I'm now in the Google #3 front page slot, but when you click 'images', my picture is now in #6 slot.  But, it's the bigger resized pic, and it leads to the other writer's article.  Now I can't find my article at all!  WTF?

If you Google 'how clean pond filter', my eHow article is #1 on Google front page.  Dang, all that work promoting and backlinking has paid off!  Then I click 'images'.  Yay!  My picture is the very first one.  I click on it, and for some reason it leads to a different article I wrote for eHow.  That's ok, though, because it's about cleaning pond filters as well.  Wait... that second picture, the larger resized picture?  That's mine, too, even though it has the wrong title!  Why is it that when I click that picture, it takes me to a different article written by a DS flat-rate 'contributing writer' instead of my article? 

If I search Google for 'fat koi', my article is the number one listed!  When I click on 'images', I find my picture of my poor bloated fish as #9, and it's titled correctly.  But it's larger than the picture I remember.  Hmmm.  I click on it, and no surprise, it's a link to "How to Determine the Correct Depth of a Koi Pond",  written by a 'contributing writer'.  Why do all my pictures link to 'contributing writers?  Oh, yeah- they're the Demand Studios eHow writers who got paid a small (5-$15) one time writing payment for their articles.  My actual picture that links to MY article is on page 2, in the #28 spot.

?????????????

eHow/Demand Studios couldn't possibly be using my Google Image links to divert traffic away from my articles, could they?  If someone clicks on ads on MY article, eHow has to pay me a secret magical amount, but if someone follows a link from my picture to a 'contributing member's article, and that reader clicks on an ad, eHow keeps all the money.  That couldn't be it, could it?

For 'perfect hash browns', my article is #4 on front page Google.  In Google Images, my picture is in slot 4 and 5.  The first, resized, larger image is not titled correctly.  It leads to a video on eHow that I did not make.  What are the chances that if someone liked the picture, they'd click the first, larger picture?  The second picture is also using someone else's title, but it does lead to my article.

I have spent all day checking out my photos on Google Image, and other eHow writer friends as well.  What I've seen is that eHow has resized our photos and is using them to provide links to other people's articles, most often to articles written by flat-rate DS writers.  Often, that picture link appears before our picture linking to OUR article.  Sometimes I can't even find my picture being linked to my article at all.  I've also found my Google Image search bringing up unrelated photos, articles, titles of mine, as well as articles, videos and articles of unrelated writers and topics.  It appears eHow is using our pictures to create a massive spiderweb of backlinks that don't neccessarily help us at all, but rather help eHow to direct traffic to articles where they do not have to pay residual income.

When is Stealing Not Stealing?
Now, it does appear to be true at this time that eHow/Demand Media is not specifically taking OUR pictures and POSTING them on other people's articles.  But, is it really any better for them to be posting them on Google Images and using them to take traffic away from our own articles, essentially stealing our traffic and our revenue?  It appears to be purposeful, since all of the photos being used (and every one of my photos is being used) have been resized.

Please let me know what you think.

1 comments:

  1. Anonymous said...

    Having followed only your "fat koi" example, the reason that your picture shows up linked to "How to Determine the Correct Depth for a Koi Pond" is because the thumbnail version of it is over there on the right under "Related Articles". You can't blame eHow for Google's indexing and image association algorithm... but you should thank them (eHow) their own algorithm that recognizes the relationships between the two articles.

    Now if you don't want your picture showing up as associated with that page, then all you'd have to do is to get it removed from the "Related Articles" section... but do you really think that would be a wise move?

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