Last week, Tyler made a post saying how he has been receiving numerous pingbacks from other blogs that were ripping off his content and using it as their own. This blog spam is actually very common and whether you know it or not, is probably affecting you as well. Do you know anything about this and why it is happening? In this article, I will lay out all of the details of this blackhat technique, how it could be hurting you, and actions you can take to better protect your blog and defend yourself.
Blog spam – What it is and why they do it
In order to take proper action for your own blogs, it’s important that you are well educated on what this blog spam actually is and why spammers are using the technique.
What blog spam is
The blackhat method being used in this case is called RSS scraping. Essentially what blackhats do is they use RSS aggregators such as Google Blog Search to target blogs based around a set of keywords. Their main goal is to create a huge site, called a ‘splog’, with tons of content provided by scraping snippets or full posts of relevant blogs. They will then credit the original source with a link to make the site appear less spammy and to prevent accusations of blatant content theft.
Why spammers they do it
So now you may be asking why anyone would create a splog and what benefits it may have. Well, splogs are usually created automatically in mass (hundreds of thousands at a time), each targeting a specific set of keywords. The goal here is to get these pages indexed by the search engines and ranking for the targeted set of keywords. This is usually done by pinging blog aggregators through services like Weblogs. Once the pages of the splog are indexed, the blackhat can then leverage them by creating a massive link network and thus increasing their ranking potential.
How this affects you
As you’ve just read, the effects of blog spam can have a direct effect on your own legitimate blog. Although Google makes an effort to give credit to the original source, they are not perfect and can incorrectly rank a splog page higher than yours for the same content. Alternatively, search engines may correctly identify a spam blog and devalue it but at the same time incorrectly label your blog as spam because of the duplicate content and the many links pointing from the spam blog to your own blog.
How you can approach this problem
There are many ways you can approach this problem:
From an optimistic point of view, you can ignore the spam blogs, hope and trust that Google and the rest of the search engines will correctly give you proper credit for your work, and be happy that at least the splog linked back to your site (although this link is probably worth next to nothing).
From a pessimistic point of view, you can look at the splogs for what they really are: content theft. This is a blatant violation of copyright and although people may not notice the destructive effects through a single trashy splog, when viewed as a whole the problem is very large. Don’t let your hard work be manipulated and devalued for someone else’s gain.
What you can do about it
Identifying the problem is the first step and hopefully I was able to convice you with this article. If you need further proof, here is an article outlining 5 content theft myths and why they are false. Next, you will have to take action to protect yourself and your content. Blog Herald offers another article with 6 steps to stop content theft that is spot on. Some of the possible strategies include using a digitial fingerprint in your RSS feeds to identify splogs, collecting evidence, and possibly contacting the plagiarist, web site host, advertisers (Adsense), and search engines.
In terms of SEO, being a victim of RSS scraping is a large problem for your site especially if your blog is new or banned in the search engines. Spammers will essentially be able to steal your content, rank higher than you for most keywords, and to monetize something that is rightfully yours.
How are you dealing with content theft? Are you taking appropriate action to protect your greatest assets? The fight with spam blogs is on.