Check out this interview with a link spammer – it’s an interesting read.
“It was around December 2003: Google did what was called the ‘Florida update’. It changed the algorithm that measured how high a site should be ranked to spot ‘nepotistic’ links and devalue them. So if you had a link farm of sites with different names which linked heavily to each other, they were pushed down,” explains Sam.
So the link spammers – who prefer to call themselves “search engine optimisers”, but get upset when search engines do optimise themselves – turned to other free outlets which Google already regarded highly, because their content changes so often: blogs. And especially blogs’ comments, where trusting bloggers expected people to put nice agreeable remarks about what they’d written, rather than links to PPC sites. Ah well. Nothing personal.
“Comment spamming to blogs was going on before the Florida update, but it rose after that,” says Sam. “All we need is a website that allows some interaction.” Photo galleries based around PHPGallery – which allows votes and comments – are easy targets too. So many of them allow anyone to leave a comment.
Why not just buy a Google ad, Sam? “You don’t get anything like the same click-through ratio. Jakob Nielsen’s studies and my own show you get six or seven times more click-throughs from ‘organic’ search results. And pay-per-click on search engines costs money! It can be Â£20 per click! We pay nothing to get an organic result.” But what about the moral question, that you’re using other peoples’ bandwidth and blog space and abusing it by putting your commercial message there? “The question of morals is one for the individual. While it’s legal, it will continue. It could be argued that a website owner is actually inviting content to their site when they allow comments.”
There’s a lot of info to pull from this interview, but a couple of things to note:
To be in the top ten is great, but results 8 – 10 bring a higher conversion rate.
Confirms that Google is all about ‘most links in wins’, that’s why all the comment spam. The spammers are benefitting in the rankings from all the IBLs.
And that comment spam is nothing personal – it’s just business.
So won’t the new ‘nofollow’ links implemented by Google, Yahoo & MSN defeat the link spammer?
“I don’t think it’ll have much effect in the short, medium or long term. The search engines caused the problem” – we didn’t quite follow this bit of logic, but Sam continued – “and they’re doing this to placate the community. It won’t work because most blogs and forms are set up with the best intentions, but when people find hard graft has to go into it they’re left to rot. To use this, they’ll all have to be updated. The majority won’t be. And there’ll just be trackback spamming.”
Thanks to: seroundtable for the heads up on the article.