Splogs and Sportals

Question

Often, when I am searching for something on Google, I end up clicking onto a site that seems to be nothing but a few ads. There is no information of any value but lots of text ads and links. Why would anyone put up such a worthless site?

-Georgia

Answer

This question was answered on October 13, 2006. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The popularity of 'blogs' (web logs or online journals) has produced the same problem that the popularity of e-mail created: spam!

In the case of spam blogs referred to as 'splogs' or 'blam' the folks that put them up don't do it because they have something to say, they do it because they found a way to exploit the technology to make money!

The combination of free blogging sites and pay-per-click advertising created a whole new genre of junk on the Internet.

The ads that you see displayed are generally being served by a legitimate advertiser (most common you will see a small link that says "Ads by Google") Whenever someone clicks on the ad, the junk site's owner gets paid a tiny sum If you build enough of these junk sites and cross link them, the tiny sums of money start to add up.

The trickery and dodgy tactics are getting much worse and the vast number of splogs that are being posted is starting to congest the blogosphere.

Blogs are a great way for anyone to communicate with the world but these con artists are in the process of destroying the value of the tool, just like they did with e-mail

The best thing you can do is never click on any link on any site that has gibberish text and a bunch of ads If you do click on any of the advertising links, you will be rewarding the dirtball that put up the junk site and potentially hurting the legitimate advertiser that has to pay for arrant clicks.

For those of you using Google Adwords, this is the problem that I referred to in last week's column on click fraud If you allow Google to place your ads on the Content Network, you can rest assured your ad will end up on lots of splogs and you will likely pay for a lot of unqualified clicks.

Another variation on this same theme is a spam portal or 'sportal' A legitimate portal site is one that is dedicated to a specific theme; business, sports, cars, etc and has real links to sites that have to do with the theme or to theme specific search engines.

A sportal is designed to look like a portal site, but is nothing more than a bunch of links to other sites put up by the same owner that all have pay-per-click ads on them If they can snare you with one of their sportal sites, they will continually direct you towards their other splog sites with the hopes that you will eventually click on one of the ads.

The saddest part of this equation is that the technical ne'er-do-wells that put up these junk sites know how to get them highly ranked in search engines as well.

And their latest perversion of the blogosphere is software robots that post millions of fake comments on legitimate blogs that link back to one of their splog sites.

None of what they are doing is illegal, it's just flat out annoying The companies that host blogs as well as the search engines that get tricked into indexing splogs are hard at work trying to rid the world of this junk, but they are at a disadvantage.

A user can generally spot the junk sites pretty quickly, but the automated technology that is the basis for just about everything on the Internet can not tell the difference, therefore, it's not likely to go away any time soon.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on October 13, 2006