Spam blog

Spam blog

Spam blogs, sometimes referred to by the neologism splogs, are artificially created weblog sites which the author uses to promote affiliated websites or to increase the search engine rankings of associated sites. The purpose of a splog can be to increase the PageRank or backlink portfolio of affiliate websites, to artificially inflate paid ad impressions from visitors, and/or use the blog as a link outlet to get new sites indexed. Spam blogs are usually a type of scraper site, where content is often either inauthentic text or merely stolen (see blog scraping) from other websites. These blogs usually contain a high number of links to sites associated with the splog creator which are often disreputable or otherwise useless websites.

There is frequent confusion between the terms "splog" and "spam in blogs". Splogs are blogs where the articles are fake, and are only created for search engine spamming. To spam in blogs, conversely, is to include random comments on the blogs of innocent bystanders, in which spammers take advantage of a site's ability to allow visitors to post comments that may include links.

This is used often in conjunction with other spamming techniques, including spings.

History

The term splog was popularized around mid August 2005 when it was used publicly by Mark Cuban, but appears to have been used a few times before for describing spam blogs going back to at least 2003. It developed from multiple linkblogs that were trying to influence search indexes and others trying to Google bomb every word in the dictionary.

Recent Activity

The term may be applied to more recent infections, most noticably those reported by Webtrends in April 2008. Leveraging botnets, spammers have infected several thousand pages which display prominent keywords from the Google Trends site by bypassing the CAPTCHA authentication method, which had previously subdued all spam bloggers. A recent sighting puts the top ten google hottest terms of the day as all being owned by spambots on the Blog Results page. As they have gone mostly unchecked, they have also infected real SERP Page One web results and corrupt any hot search terms more than a month old. Phraseoligist reports that the attacks appear on AOL Journal, Blogspot and Spaces Live. Hackers are using a number of methods including link farming, spamdexing and keyword stuffing each in a simple, moderated form to achieve top PageRank results. Most of the sites contain an animated graphic which appears as a youtube streaming video. Once clicked, users become infected with one of several variants of spyware. This generates revenue for the spambot's owner.

Problems

Splogs have become a major problem on free blog hosts such as Google's Blogger service. By one estimate, about one in five blogs are spam blogs. These fake blogs waste valuable disk space and bandwidth as well as pollute search engine results, ruining blog search engines and damaging bloggers community networking (e.g. Blogger's next blog link).

Google's search engine uses PageRank, which is susceptible to link flooding, especially from highly weighted bloggers. One splog clearly states: "Google's run by people who can't be bothered to post links on the internet." Splogs could become a detractor to people using, enjoying and finding value in the blogosphere. Splogs sometimes choose a name similar to a popular blog in order to benefit from the occasional incoming link from careless bloggers, who think they are linking to the popular site.

Splog activity can cause problems for legitimate bloggers, if search engines respond to splog by blocking or treating as 'suspicious' all web addresses in a particular domain.

RSS abuse

Full content RSS feeds are actually compounding the splog problem. RSS makes it easy to copy content from genuine blogs. Splog RSS feeds pollute RSS search engines, and are reproduced and propagated around the Net.

Defense

Several splog reporting services have been created for good willed users to report splog with plans of offering these splog URLs to search engines so that they can be excluded from search results. Splog Reporter was the first service of this kind. Then came SplogSpot which actually maintains a large database of splogs and makes it available to the public via APIs, and A2B which blocks web server IP addresses that splog URLs resolve to. There is Feed Copyrighter plugin (for WordPress) which allows you to automatically add copyright messages to feed, so splogs can be easily spotted and reported by visitors or through Google search. There is also TrustRank, which attempts to automatically find them. Blogger has implemented a system that can detect splogs and then force them to take a Captcha 'spell this word' test. Blogger deleted thousands of splogs in September 2005 and even more in December.

On February 24, 2007, Splog Reporter announced on its website that it would no longer be providing a splog reporting service.

See also

References

External links

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