Spam bloggers are making cash from the search giant’s AdSense – but they face opposition from a very determined man.
What’s the difference between WordPress.com and Google’s Blogger? Both offer a free blog hosting service that’s easy for first-time bloggers to use; you can set up your own blog in a matter of minutes. But if you’re planning on setting up a spam blog – or “splog” – don’t try your luck at WordPress. While Google’s Blogger is sometimes described as a haven for splogs, with some estimates suggesting that three-quarters of the blogs there are just empty spam, WordPress.com keeps the tricksters out, with splogs estimated at just 1% of the total.
Splogs are about making money (Cashing in on fake blogs, November 17 2005) by unethical means. Their creators design spam blogs to achieve high search engine rankings by filling them with questionable or stolen content that is added automatically. Set up a few thousand splogs, use Google’s AdSense ad-serving programme to line the pages of the blog with paid-for click-through adverts, and the money rolls in while polluting search results for everyone else.
There are probably millions of splogs, which are constantly being deleted by their hosting services. Technorati, which monitors 86m blogs, reckons between 3,000 and 7,000 splogs are created each day, peaking at 11,000 last December.
The spam-fuelled money-go-round works like this. Advertisers pay Google, Google pays its AdSense publishers, and some of the latter either create splogs or pay professional sploggers to do so. When users click on AdSense links, it encourages sploggers to create more splogs, and that makes for increasingly useless search engine results.
An anonymous American who calls himself “Splogfighter” (fightsplog.blogspot.com) has battled splogs on Blogger for two years by reporting them to Google. He has detected at least 1m splogs including, earlier this year, a splogger in charge of a record 265,000. His database contains details of 13m blogs; he has even created a visual method for watching when they’re created (fightsplog.blogspot.com).