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Behind Splogging: Why Sploggers Splog

Sploggers are almost certainly the most prolific plagiarists on the Web. A handful of determined and capable sploggers can swipe content from literally thousands of different sites, scraping their RSS feeds and taking their content as their own. Thus, even though the actual number of “career” sploggers is probably very small, their effects can be felt far and wide over the Internet.

Recently, however, I was given the chance to sit down and speak with an individual who had dabbled in splogging. Though he has ceased plagiarizing and even stopped his automated postings, he was able to provide me a great deal of insight into the world of splogging and the exact reasons that “black hats” have taken up the craft.

As it turns out, things aren’t as simple or obvious as they seem and, while the profit motivation of sploggers is pretty clear, how that profit is achieved is a little bit less apparent.

Not for Human Eyes

As most have gathered, splogs were never intended for human eyes. Most sploggers have no desire to attract human readers to their plagiarized sites. They’re quick, crude, low quality and, almost always, illegal. Visitors to them will not likely click any ads placed upon them nor follow any links provided.

That’s why very few splogs, these days, run ads within the splog itself (Though some apparently do). Not only would it be a direct violation of the Adsense TOS that could result in them getting all of their funding cut, but it’s not a likely source of revenue. Human-visited splogs are high risk with almost no potential for gain.

Instead, splogs contain links to other sites, usually long junk domains loaded with keywords, which they are trying to get the search engines to pick up. These sites, generally, are nothing but a keyword loaded header with a miniscule amount of copy and several different groups of text ads arranged to look like either search results or regular links. By the time the site is set up, over 90% of the site is covered with Adsense ads or a similar service.

The hope is that, with enough spam links to the domain, they can gain ground in the search rankings and get targeted visitors to those sites to click the links (Note: According to most SEO experts and my own research, this does NOT work. You can only expedite getting listed, not drastically improve your ranking, thus hundreds of junk posts are a waste). Those targeted visitors will then click the ads, either out of curiosity or because they mistook them for regular links.

It’s a classic example of black hat SEO that simply involves widespread plagiarism to make it work.

Google is NOT the Target

One of the interesting things that came out of my discussion with the reformed splogger is that Google is not the target of splogs. As odd as it may seem, Yahoo indexes entire sites much more quickly than Google and is even faster at picking up Blogspot blogs because it considers it such an important domain. Thus, even though the service is wholly owned by Google itself, Yahoo is the first to snatch up links contained with it.

The desired end result is that Yahoo searchers will be directed to the junk domains where they will then click on the Google Adsense ads. This arrangement is not only very profitable for the splogger, since they get a sizeable chunk of the revenue from each ad click, but is very beneficial to Google as they are getting money directly from Yahoo’s visitors.

Since most splogs are cleaned up before they reach the Google database, it’s mainly Yahoo, Technorati, Ice Rocket and the other fast-indexing search engines that have the most to lose.

The Google Link

If what this splogger says is true, then Google would seem to have little motivation to clamp down on this. Yes, splogs impact their Blogspot servers and cause many legitimate bloggers to debate leaving it, but the impact can easily be negated by the profit they stand to gain. While I’m very far away from saying that Google is directly involved or colluding with sploggers, in fact they have been very aggressive in shutting them down since the outcry against them began (especially since several major blog search engines stopped accepting new Blogspot accounts for their searches); there is a clear conflict of interest here.

Of course, this is the exact type of conflict of interest that arises when a company gains too much power in too many lines of business. Though their motto says that one doesn’t have to be evil to make money and they certainly seem to be handling the conflict very well, it’s hard not to worry.

In the end, how Google handles the splogging crisis will show a great deal about the company itself, both in terms of its capabilities and its trustworthiness. The world is watching Google, please don’t forget that.

Conclusion

I will be posting more on this issue as my conversations and research reveal more information. Stay tuned for more glimpses behind the most prolific plagiarists on the planet as I am certain more revelations are due soon.

33 Responses to Behind Splogging: Why Sploggers Splog

  1. Why Sploggers Splog [Plagiarism Today]

    Supposedly a splogger tells all, here.

  2. Why Sploggers Splog [Plagiarism Today]

    Supposedly a splogger tells all, here.

  3. [...] According to Technorati, a full eight percent of all new blogs are spam, an estimated 5600 splogs a day. Google, whose Blogger service comprises over 80% of all splogs, has effectively stopped deleting splogs reported to them and the techniques sploggers use to make their money have advanced the point that traditional techniques, including reporting them to Adsense, fail to work effectively. [...]

  4. idesigncg says:

    The technique you’re writing about is called Blog and Ping. Blogging keyword-laden posts and then using the blog to ping the search engines and let them know that the site has been updated. The idea is the search engine then follows the link to the revenue generating site, and in effect, indexing it.

  5. BJ says:

    I googled for sploggers and found this site. Thanks for the definition.

  6. Yahoo! Helping Splogs and Google Earn Money?

    Marcia posted a thread at Search Engine Watch forums named Plagiarism, Splogs and Search Engine Spam where she quoted a blog entry at Plagiarism Today named Why Sploggers Splog The snippet Marcia selected was ironic, to say the least. One…

  7. Yahoo! Helping Splogs and Google Earn Money?

    Marcia posted a thread at Search Engine Watch forums named Plagiarism, Splogs and Search Engine Spam where she quoted a blog entry at Plagiarism Today named Why Sploggers Splog The snippet Marcia selected was ironic, to say the least. One…

  8. [...] Marcia posted a thread at Search Engine Watch forums named Plagiarism, Splogs and Search Engine Spam where she quoted a blog entry at Plagiarism Today named Why Sploggers Splog The snippet Marcia selected was ironic, to say the least. One of the interesting things that came out of my discussion with the reformed splogger is that Google is not the target of splogs. As odd as it may seem, Yahoo indexes entire sites much more quickly than Google and is even faster at picking up Blogspot blogs because it considers it such an important domain. Thus, even though the service is wholly owned by Google itself, Yahoo is the first to snatch up links contained with it…. [...]

  9. [...] Plagrism Today has a series of articles on splogging and scrapping beginning with Behind Splogging: Why Sploggers Splog [...]

  10. [...] all benefit from the assumption that the search engine itself will always be gamed by spammers and sploggers and search engine marketers. Once we do that, creating a community that is invested in the efficacy [...]

  11. [...] a splogger tells all, here. This Post is Part of a Series — So You Wanna Be A Blogger?Blog SEOBlogging Ethics [...]

  12. [...] the plugins is called AntiLeech, and it’s purpose is to stop content being stolen via RSS by sploggers and spamdexers. It seems that some of my content has been appearing on other websites, fully ripped [...]

  13. [...] Lately there have been a lot of trackbacks to my blog – all from unethical sploggers. [...]

  14. [...] more about Sploggers. Filed under: General by — Dave @ 7:54 [...]

  15. [...] by ads for pills. If a blog scraper is gathering content that is copyrighted material, it is a violation of law. In addition, there are a number of more practical problems that blog scraping causes for the [...]

  16. [...] by ads for pills. If a blog scraper is gathering content that is copyrighted material, it is a violation of law. In addition, there are a number of more practical problems that blog scraping causes for the [...]

  17. [...] it easy for them, even if they don’t have any technical knowledge. They are not necessarily up to date on the hundred and one ways people use the Internet to dump their ‘natural’ viagra, shady mortgages and crazy rates [...]

  18. [...] Spam blogs are fake blogs that exist only for the sake of getting revenue from Google ads. They do this by sucking content from other people’s blogs, and tricking Google into thinking they’re real blogs. (Don’t ask me why Google hasn’t figured out how to squash this issue.) [...]

  19. [...] Plagiarism Today, by Jonathan Bailey [...]

  20. urod says:

    Try megauploadfiles.comin my opinion the best megaupload search engine ever.

  21. levivas says:

    there is not a difference for me, to read splog or blog, it must be interestingly

  22. levivas says:

    there is not a difference for me, to read splog or blog, it must be interestingly

  23. levivas says:

    there is not a difference for me, to read splog or blog, it must be interestingly

  24. WordPress, another popular blogging platform, comes with built-in comment moderation. Trackback spam is harder to fight, and a lot of bloggers have resorted to turning off trackbacks entirely.

  25. [...] If you found a blog entry that linked here, then it’s very likely that we discovered you were using a common splogging technique. This technique has a major flaw in that we can now post whatever we want on your blog. If you weren’t intending to splog, then please accept our apologies, but note that your blog is compromised since the email address used to post directly to your blog was made public. Don’t know what Splogging is? Read the following. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_blog http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2005/11/08/behind-splogging-why-sploggers-splog/ [...]

  26. Cyndy Green says:

    Thank you for this very informative article. I'm working on shutting down a splogger who stole content. His name is Gideon Kimbrell of Fontine, Montana and his web stretches far and wide. Any suggestions?

  27. [...] check on splogging, since I generally live with my head in the sand and focus on my own business. Plagiarism Today had an extremely informative [...]

  28. [...] check on splogging, since I generally live with my head in the sand and focus on my own business. Plagiarism Today had an extremely informative [...]

  29. What's really sad (or says something good about my character, I'm not sure which) is that I still don't understand any of this.

  30. I don't think it's just because of adsense related sites, i think it could be any site that just wants to rank better for their keywords sot they link back to other sites and backlinks to get indexed.

    Just my 2pence woth but why wouldn't a website with an RSS feed want their excerps published on another site if it is generating backlinks. This will help the originals page rank.

  31. […] The truth is that scrapers have been operating for longer than this site has been around. Many of the first posts I penned were about scraping, going back to 2005. […]

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