Let me tell you a little story.
I had three dogs at one point in my life: Lucky, Brownie, and my current dog Cocoa.
(Hey, believe it or not, he actually enjoyed me holding him this way. He’d fall asleep. Maybe he was being affixiated. Eh, same difference.)
I’ve had to endure the experience of losing Lucky TWICE and Cocoa once.
Yes, THREE times in less than 2 years.
The first time was Lucky, and it took about a week.
The second time was Lucky again (yes, not so “lucky”)… and that was 4 days.
The third time was Cocoa and it took two days (actually, this story went viral and was covered on ESPN & CSN because a NHL hockey player and his wife found him).
Now, did I become a professional dog hunter? Well, I’d like to think so, but no. Dogs aren’t stationary tools that you carry with you. They have their own mind and legs to move around.
No, the reason why I got “better” was because my tools got better. Or rather, how I used those tools to achieve my means.
The first time, I relied heavily on the traditional methods – flyers, posters, door to door knocking, etc.
I was already doing lots of marketing & advertising, so I thought on 3rd day, ‘hey why not do this to find my dog?’
2nd and 3rd time, I went as far as doing EDDM (every door direct mail by US postal service) SMS broadcast, Facebook ads, etc.).
Finding a lost dog is slightly easier, but comparable to finding anything online.
The tools are there.
You just have to figure out how you’re going to use it and WHAT you’re going to use it for.
1) Reverse IP lookup on Bing
All websites are hosted somewhere, and those host servers have IP addresses.
In Bing, if you type in “ip:aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd” (i.e. aaa….ddd being the IP in question), it will tell you what other websites are hosted on that IP address.
Case Scenario A
For example, suppose you’re doing search marketing (i.e. pay per click) in a vertical where you have a gut sense that there are people bidding for the same keywords using multiple domains to dominate the search results page. This is against most search networks (“double serving policy”), and one entity is not supposed to have more than 1 account.
You can “ping” the destination URLs… get their IP and reverse IP look up on bing.
More often than not, you’ll notice people hosting multiple websites on one server. So if you know MyAwesomeGlassFixingGuy.com and GetYourGlassesFixedNow.com are on same IP and you see them showing up on the search results page ads for simlar keywords, voila! You most likely found this person violating search engines’ TOS.
Don’t be a “rat”, but remember, rats are evil.
Case Scenario B
Another example… suppose you find your content scraped & hosted without properly giving you the credit with a back link. (Content scraping is a huge EVIL business and the search engines are still fighting this)
You try emailing, contacting, sending cease and desist, and all kinds of stuff.. but they don’t respond. Here’s couple of things you can do
a) Send a letter to the hosting company telling them they’re hosting copyrighted content. 99% of the time, they will comply because they’re not going out of business because one stupid idiot.
b) Do a reverse IP lookup and find out if there are any “parent” looking companies that seem to own this site. Usually content scrapers work in large scale volume and are probably scraping other sites and hosting on their other domains. Find out who they’re scraping as well and contact them to let them know. Not only is group effort better, but you also build up rapport with that other victim who didn’t know that he/she was being victimized.. and might even give you some link love. Two birds, one stone.
2) Disavow Tool
If you do any kind of link building, you know that having bad or shady links is bad for you. Panda, Penguin, etc etc. With each update, the search engines are getting smarter about where the traffic should go.
But sometimes, you get bad back links.. whether or not you did it. Most probable cause? Spammers (and your competitors) are probably trying to bring you down so that THEY can rank higher.
Most links can be easily “wiped” by you sending a nice email to the owner of the website you want that link deleted from. But sometimes, they just don’t respond.
In that case, you can use the Google disavow tool to let Google know that specific link is one you want to disavow so that they won’t take that link into consideration.
3) Google Cache
If you are using chrome, there’s a command called “cache:”.
You can enter “cache:http://youwebsite.domain” into it and it’ll show you the CACHED version of that site. In another words, the “previous” copy that Google is hosting before the latest update.
Case Scenario A
Suppose someone wrote something nasty or factually incorrect about something that you pointed out. Say, you know a government official said something evil and you KNEW it was wrong.
But this is the web and things change split second.
How do you get this copy?
It’s like time archive of websites and it shows WHAT was written.
Case Scenario B
Did you do something stupid like delete a page? Lost the database password and now your CMS can’t connect?
Tada! Now, you have Google cache as a backup.
Yeah, it’s painful to go one by by one, but hey at least you got something.
4) Reverse Image Search
I have a great example for this one.
Are you doing online dating? Are you a girl who just met a guy (or received a pic from him) and he just won’t share who he is or what he does? Or God forbid.. has some kind of crazy criminal record?
Upload his picture into Google image, and it will tell you where on the net that picture (or pictures that resemble that picture) is.
This isn’t fool proof because image recognition technology is still very primitive, but more often than not, people re-use their photo over and over… so while it’s not 100% fail proof, it does work a big chunk of time.
Now imagine, you can extend this to marketing prospects.
Did you go to a networking conference and you just forgot who you spoke to? If you have his picture (whether you took it or you downloaded it from the event page), you can upload it and check out his web profile.