Warning: Your Blog is Under Attack by Splogs

December 4, 2007 Posted by Gyutae Park

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.

This article was guest blogged by Gyutae Park of Winning the Web, an Internet marketing and make money online blog. If you liked this post, be sure to visit Winning the Web and subscribe to the feed.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment below, subscribing to my RSS feed, or following me on Twitter.
Posted: December 4th, 2007 under Guest Posts  

32 Responses to “Warning: Your Blog is Under Attack by Splogs”

  1. Jean Costa says:

    This is certainly an ongoing battle. Much similar to Piracy that has been ramped on the internet.

    It is comparable to, Computer Security, it can never be 100% secure, every system has its flaws.

    But I do believe, that over time it will slow down. As the search engine’s systems are enhanced, the knowledge to pull off an effective splog is increased.

  2. It’s happening to me right now. I only give out the short version of my feeds so hopefully that helps. I’m wondering if Feedburner has an option to block certain sources from pulling in feeds.

    It’s unfortunate but sometimes using a pw for your feed is a solution.

    Thanks, nice article,
    Sam

  3. Maher Saleh says:

    I’ve got many of this problems but it is hard to deal with it

  4. lex g says:

    I noticed that it sometimes helps to have a very clear policy on this on your blog , but then again, this only applies to non – automated services.

    Aside from ppl stealing content that you work hard for, what about the time that being busy with this consumes ?

    Lex
    ————————————————————
    http://www.newmediatype.com – web entrepreneur’s blog

  5. Beth says:

    I’m using the Digital Fingerprint Plugin for WordPress- has it helped? No, I’m still seeing my content on splogs-with the digital fingerprint. So I’m keeping a list in case I have to prove to Google the content is mine. To Sam-I haven’t found anything that can actually block certain IPs or other sources from accessing feeds.

  6. I’ve had to do some research on poker for the site I’m working on and the amount of spam sites in Google blogsearch is incredible.

    As a research tool it is quite useless because of all the content stealers but as it is free who do you complain to?

    Perhaps one day we will move to search engines charging people. I know I would pay to get more relevant results as it would save me time.

    • Sokolova says:

      Annette,

      There already was a time when search engines charged people. Goto.com founded by Bill Gross was the 1st engine to do so. The search engine relied on paid entries. Goto.com even met with Google before it went big to use their search technology.

      However Google decided to go their own direction with Adwords. The problem is we have scammers/ spammers who will do anything to make a quick buck.

  7. James Wilcox says:

    This is indeed a net epidemic. I check my akismet spam queue every day and there are about 4-5 “splogs” as you put it scraping my content. I’ve sent the hosting providers a cease and desist letter to the complaint/abuse email address and that may do the trick but I doubt it. I wrote a post all about this on my blog.

  8. First off, to clarify one point in my original articles, the Digital Fingerprint plugin is not designed to prevent theft, just help you discover, track and stop it. AntiLeech is a plugin that is designed to actually prevent the theft and it has people that swear by it.

    My personal approach is that there are some spam bloggers, such as those who only take a few sentences, that aren’t worth dealing with. However, if someone is scraping the whole of your feed, you need to take action and fast.

    On that note, I am available if I can help anyone out!

  9. Tyler says:

    What about putting a unique signature at the top or bottom of all of your blog posts. Something like “This is an original post of SlyBaldGuys.com” and include a URL to your site. This way people know where the original article is from.

  10. Matt says:

    This was always going to be a big problem with the monetization of blogging, everyone wants to get rich but basically do bugger all work for it..

    Thanks for pointing this out to all of us..

  11. […] Cruz Warning: Your Blog is Under Attack by Splogs PayPerPost Bloggers Beware Learn to Manage Your Online Reputation Your Complete Guide to Buying […]

  12. I’m already seeing this to on my fairly new blog. I think Google has themselves in a bit of a pickle here because it shoul drest on Google to determine who is the author and who is ripping off content.

  13. ArahMan7 says:

    Wow, that bad, huh?

    Forgive my ignorance, but I’m glad I came by and read this post. At least I know what’s going on and the appropriate action to protect mine.

    Greetings and lotta loves from Malaysia.

  14. Mike Huang says:

    Great post Tyler…now we just hope Google will get their act together.

    -Mike

  15. Frank C says:

    Remember that “quick excerpt” sploggers are really no different from any other aggregation engine, including Google’s blog search, when it comes to copyright provisions. They’re clearly operating within fair use, just like Google does and regular bloggers who quote small parts of your posts. That means all the complaining in the world won’t do anything to stop them so you may as well not worry and enjoy some free one-way back links while you Akismet Spam their trackbacks.

    Full content sploggers, however, are a different matter.

  16. My main weapon is a little script I wrote called Thiefinder. It will toss an entry into a log each time someone loads an image that is hotlinked from another site or blog – which is great for catching sploggers ;)

  17. So would you consider a site like mine, that takes the RSS feed from a bunch of sites, and puts them all in one place to be a SPAM site? I am not doing it with blogs, but with freebie sites.

    And isn’t this what RSS is all about? They are giving credit back to the owner, so I don’t really see the harm.

  18. […] Warning: Your Blog is Under Attack by Splogs […]

  19. Ethan Christ says:

    What about all of the diggers that call any blog post that gets submitted blogspam if it has any ads whatsoever. Is that actually blogspam?

  20. I don’t mind splogs. I have a plugin that puts a copyright message at the bottom of my RSS, and I’ve made it so it just links back to my site using keywords I want to rank for.
    ~ Dave

  21. paulette says:

    Thank you for the information. I hope more bloggers would read this. Upon reading this at least they will be more cautious.

  22. Malin says:

    Great post! I have discovered a lot of these splogs taking my content lately. But I’m not sure if it is worth battling them :/

  23. Techfudge says:

    Well blackhat ways do not let you go far…
    You will eventually get caught and penalized and thats why I always stick to white hat..
    As far as splogs are concerned they do not seem to be a threat to me!

PeerFly

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