Filling the web with junk – by article spamming
It was inevitable that the billions of pages that now comprise the web, a rapidly growing and fast changing, massive collection of web pages, would need a powerful search engine to get the required information and filter out the rest. For this search engine to be fast and efficient and produce the most comprehensive results, it was also important to automatically crawl and index the web, and rank the pages using automated procedures based on objective criteria to produce the right information on the first page itself.
A direct consequence of this has been the competition among websites, or rather among people trying to make money over the internet, to get their sites seen on the first few pages to receive maximum traffic and public exposure. This has given rise to the search engine optimisation (seo) industry, and a major aspect of this business is that of writing and publishing articles in bulk on a daily basis for web promotion, that is, article spamming.
The most prominent aspect of spam articles is that they are full of advice on what to do and how, on topics that range from everything under the sun — car loans, insurance, credit cards, health, beauty, gadgets…the list is endless. How to improve credit scores, how to stay slim, how to…advise and instruction-oriented articles probably attract more attention, and if its free, its most welcome. The writer once came across an article, on one such site that was being spammed, with the title, ‘I don’t know what to write!’ The author, probably a spammer, was facing the problem that article spammers face when they run out of ideas writing more than 40 to 50 articles on the same subject for over a month.
The greatest unethical / illegal aspect of article spamming lies in the fake identities assumed by article spammers. Being a ‘white female’ is apparently presumed in the seo industry to be a status of such repute that articles written by such ‘persons’ — Deborahs, Annas, Olivias — are seen as ones that would never be refused publication! Hence article spammers are advised to assume a fake ‘white female’ identity and spam.
What kind of websites are promoted using these articles? Combine the words free, cheap, 4free, best, 4you, online, download, etc, with car loan, ringtones, insurance, health store, software, books, movies, etc, even trademark names of companies, and register the domain. The promise of the websites is to sell free and cheap goods and services online. Free and cheap — these are the catch words used to try and lure surfers into clicking links that lead to other sites. It finally turns out that the ‘free’ goods are not really given as such for free, but carry conditions of buying some other item, or other such terms!
The entire production process is in fact quite professional, and detailed reports are maintained. With a number of sites at hand for promotion on search engines, a list of say 20 to 30 sites that accept article for publication is made. An efficient spammer can prepare and mass submit 8 to 10 articles to over 20 websites in a day, the whole activity spanning at least two months or more. This amounts to nearly 200 web pages of content per spammer produced everyday, 6000 pages every month, and literally dumped into the web. A content produced only for the sake of getting a backward link, a content with dubious value, mostly plagiarised content taken from other websites and written by people with little or no personal knowledge of the subjects they write on, and submitted in bulk everyday is what best describes the spam articles and the practice of spamming as witnessed by this writer.
The work atmosphere at such places is thoroughly professional and of utmost integrity. Team leaders, team heads, and team members put in a massive amount of effort, with background music and free birthday parties thrown in, and detailed reports and supervision to ensure no one cheats on work. In fact, it is not hidden from employees that spamming is wrong, but justified as a necessity to come up in search engines. Never before was theft and cheating so professionally supervised and ‘good work’ rewarded in words, letters and gifts than in the internet age.
What kind of people are recruited in such seo businesses? If you are smart, you would probably guess it. Fresh graduates from poor families who are ignorant of the business model, and too young to care to distinguish between the rights and wrongs in doing a business. What kind of people run or manage such a business? Maverick crooks who consider themselves ‘ideators’ and marketeers, squat on domains, create hundreds of sites merely to push them up on search engines and divert traffic to other sites, make money with online pharmacies (read Viagra), and reckless investors too old or ignorant or careless to inquire into such businesses before investing half a million dollars.
The end result? Mass spam sites, used only to funnel and redirect traffic, are often detected by search engines for spamming and banned.
Jan 1, 2007