It never ceases to amaze me the depths that some spam bloggers will go in the quest for a cheap buck.
I’ve seen sploggers scrape anti-child pornography sites in to promote “teen porn”, scrape hundreds, even thousands, of feeds to capture just a few keywords and even create tens of thousands of generated blogs on free hosting accounts just to push a few Adsense ads.
However, the one thread that all of these spam bloggers have is laziness. Spam blogging is about trying to make the most money for the least amount of effort.
Every once in a while though, I see a spam blogger that takes this laziness to new heights. Take this one for example (nofollowed) that doesn’t even bother scraping feeds or setting up watchlists. Instead, he just has the spam emailed to him, taking advantage of Google Alerts to do the dirty work.
It is a supremely lazy, but ultimately suicidal method of obtaining content for spam blogs.
The idea behind this spam blog is pretty simple:
- Set up Blogger account.
- Create a Mail-To-Blogger email address.
- Set up a Google Alert for your ideal keyword.
- Send alert to above email address.
- Set up a few ads (Yahoo Publisher ads in this case).
On the surface the approach seems foolproof. There’s no software to buy, no scripts to set up and no major hassles to contend with. The snippets copied are likely to be considered fair use and are keyword-rich.
Best of all, the process is entirely automated. There’s no worries about the feed being cut off or being redirected to new content. It’s a steady stream of free, keyword-rich content that will almost never end.
However, as you can probably tell from the link above, this system is anything but perfect. Even as far as scraping goes, this method is very weak.
Suicide By Google
The problem with this method of scraping is almost instantly clear. Google, and the other search engines, should have a trivial time spotting this is as scraped content.
Considering that the footer to each post clearly indicates where the content came from and links back to Google account pages, it should be a direct give away to any spider that the page is not kosher.
Even if the content is indexed, it will appear days, not minutes after the original post. Where a feed scraper can confuse the search engines, this scraper relies on the search engines first spidering the original content and then sending out the alert.
Since the search engine has already seen and indexed the original, it can easily peg the spam blog as the duplicate.
Finally, even if the site is able to establish some momentum, Google Alerts is not the most consistent of beasts. Even “as it happens” alerts can be held up for days, only to drop a bombshell all at once. Consistency is important to the art of spamming and such rapid-fire submissions will almost certainly peg a site as potential spam.
By the time it’s all said and done, this method is practically suicide. There is almost no chance that this type of scraping will yield the results that the person behind it is looking for.
All in all, there seems to be little threat from this kind of scraping. The content reuse is minimal and the chances of success are very slim. It seems unlikely that many professional black hats are using this technique.
What is worrisome, however, is the role Google is playing in this. As the owner of Blogger and of Google Alerts, they have to realize that their alerts are being sent to accounts created solely for the purpose of to Blogger.
The question is this: Why is Google allowing their alerts feature to be misused? Frankly, it is nothing short of negligent considering it would only necessitate blocking email addresses that followed the pattern firstname.lastname@example.org.
Certainly that would stifle no legitimate use of the Google Alerts tool.
Still, it is disappointing to see Google sit on its hands when it has such an easy and effective way to stifle some spam blogs and make the Internet a better place for all of us.
Hopefully it will wake up to this problem soon and address it, before the matter gets any worse.