Blog Wars: Attack Of The Splogs

The engines, namely Google, are striking back at sploggers and their malevolent creations, the splogs.

According to media reports Google has taken measures to impede those attempting to use its Blogger service to create and maintain fake blogs.

Blogger’s official corporate blog mentioned the “spamalanche” that has search engines, blog search engines and net advertisers in a tizzy.

They are now working together to eliminate the economic incentive for splogs by identifying them at their source – by domain – and not indexing them.

Can CAPTCHA Stop The Spamalanche?

The “CAPTCHA” test is a method by which automated programs that post or create blogs can be foiled–where the user is asked to type in a sequence of letters from a line that people can read, but computers can’t decipher.

Blogger is currently working on ways to reduce false positives and ensure that once a blog with word verification has been established as legitimate, the blogger will no longer need to solve the CAPTCHA.

Why Create Splogs In The First Place?

Splogs generally fall into one of two categories, notes Mediapost: Link farms, which pack hundreds or even thousands of blogs with gibberish or recycled content, and contain multiple links to a particular Web site, which allow them to game Google’s PageRank algorithm, creating artificially high organic search rankings; and spam blogs that simply recycle content with AdSense or other advertising on them in the hopes of making money from errant users clicking on the ads.

Splogs most often get their content by scraping – the process of sending an electronic copying bot to take everything it sees, recreating it on an unlimited number of instant documents, writes Jim Hedger.

Literally millions of instant sites have sprung up over the past twelve months, most of which are free-hosted Blogs, containing content scraped out from the original sites.

Why Splogs Are Evil

An article in the Wall Street Journal notes that the splogs are a big source of frustration for several search-engine start-ups that focus on blog searches, such as LLC, Technorati Inc. and Feedster Inc.

Jim Hedger makes some excellent points about why splogs are a menace to genuine bloggers, notably that:

Splogs are content thieves and can cause honest webmasters to get caught up in technical and financial issues by losing search engine listings and advertising revenue

Splogs use up blogging resources, especially those of Blogger and Blogspot

Slogs clog up the search results with crappy and irrelevant sites.

Splogs devalue the legitimate uses of blogs as communications and marketing tools

Splogs might lead future blog readers or users away from the growing blogosphere.

Pete Blackshaw, chief marketing officer of Intelliseek, a firm that monitors and searches blog content, said that spam blogs make it harder to convince companies to blog.

What Can You Do About Splogs?

It’s not just the engines that are fighting back. There are a few knights in shining armour out there, like Frank Gruber, a blogger in Chicago who became frustrated while encountering splogs in search engines, and recently launched a site called SplogReporter, reports the Wall Street Journal.

SplogReporter lets anyone submit the Web address of a suspected splog. Gruber has created an index to rate how “spammy” a blog is, and is building a database of splogs that he may share with search engines.

Google engineer, Matt Cutts, provided tips on how to report spam to Google on his blog. Use his tips to report spam and do your bit to clean up the blogosphere.

I first wrote about spam-blogs here, and recommended that instead of using blogs for spam, marketers must focus on building content-rich sites and getting high-value links to them.

Don’t restrict yourself to just the SEO benefits of blogging. Appreciate the value that blogs can add to your marketing and public relations strategy and use them the way they were meant to be used – as cutting-edge and “cool” tools for communicating with your target audience.

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About The Author

Priya Shah is a partner in the search engine marketing firm, SEO & More Request the whitepaper Boost Your Search Engine Visibility With Blogs And RSS

This article was posted on October 28, 2005

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