Study Analyzes Search Spam and Blog Farms

Posted on March 19, 2007

A technical paper has proven what most everyone already knew. That fake websites and blogs exist and the reason they exist is to get people to click on ads. The Times article says the study (PDF Link) found that the search spam and fake sites exist because the spammers are after the ad revenues.

The researchers said large advertisers were to blame for a significant share of the spam problem.

"Ultimately, it is advertisers' money that is funding the search-spam industry, which is increasingly cluttering the Web with low-quality content and reducing Web users' productivity," they write in the paper, which will be presented in May at the International World Wide Web Conference in Banff, Alberta.

Mr. Wang, group manager and senior researcher for cybersecurity and systems management at Microsoft, said, "The good guys are part of the problem."

The researchers' specific findings included evidence that some blog-hosting services have permitted an explosion of phony doorway pages. For example, the researchers noted that such pages were far more prevalent in Google's blogspot.com service than in other hosting domains. The Microsoft Research team has worked extensively with the managers of Microsoft's Spaces blog-hosting service to detect and identify search-engine spam, Mr. Wang said. Google would not comment for the record on its own efforts to combat such practices.

Many bloggers have encountered splogs that either copy content from a blog's feed or mix headlines or nonsense content from various feeds with the keywords they are trying to target. Everyone knew these existed but the study itself is interested because it shows how the spammers utilize search engines, splogs and doorway pages to generate revenues at the expense of bloggers. The study also found some of their favorite keywords like drugs and ringtones. Some of the blog farms (aka splog farms) out there are getting pretty sophisticated and these annoying spammers will probably continue to get more sophisticated over time.



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