SEO Malware - Magzimus ThemeIf you Google my name at the moment, you’ll find some interesting results – and if you’ve hit this page as a result of looking for ‘webcam sex,’ you’re going to be disappointed.

I recently installed a new theme on the site – Magzimus – which I pulled from a site promising free WordPress themes. It’s pretty, it has a neat JavaScript slider, and it was a simple install.  What’s not to like?

Well, the fact that searching for my blog on various search engines now shows an affiliation with popular ‘adult entertainment’ site LiveJasmin, for a start.

It seems that the ‘free’ theme has an interesting business model: a hidden bit of PHP code in the admin.php file that checks to see if traffic is coming from a search engine crawler, and if so adding a hidden span at the bottom of the page containing affiliate links to the aforementioned webcam site – and a variety of keywords that are likely to get me significantly different traffic to normal.

I’ve excised the code, and am now waiting for Google et al to update my listing and remove the spurious keywords.

Next time you snag a WordPress theme from somewhere, do what I failed to do: check the code to see exactly what it’s doing to your site.

5 Thoughts on “The cost of free: WordPress SEO malware

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The cost of free: WordPress SEO malware « Gareth Halfacree -- Topsy.com

  2. Yea we had this issue on PrimaryBlogger, now each new theme gets run through a set of tests to ensure its not doing anything we don’t expect or know it will do.

  3. Pingback: links for 2010-12-03 « doug – off the record

  4. Adam Hepton on Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 21:21 said:

    That is a corking typeface you’re rocking in your logo, G-Dog. What is it?

  5. It’s Bebas Regular – a freebie from Font Squirrel.

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