spam-collection-2007-06You’ve probably typed a search term into your favorite engine and clicked an ad to discover a site with absolutely no information, but tons and tons of links. These sites are called link farms and are part of the global campaign to fool search engines. The business model is pretty simple; an unsuspecting web browser stumbles on their link farming site and they either:
1. Sell ad space on the site
2. Redirect traffic to a paying site
3. Plant some nasty stuff on your computer like spyware or viruses.
There’s an entire industry of enterprising web wizards that do this with pay per click campaigns. If you can traffic at $0.05 per click and sell it at $0.10 per click, you can run that engine forever and constantly make money more money. All those nickels can add up to a lot of money and often these methods fuel some of the dirty corners of the internet.
Another dirty tactic is called typosquatting, or using a slight variation of a web site’s address to fool you into a site that’s not what you expected. is a useful site full of financial information, is a link farm.
Other sneaky tactics include buying up people’s domain names the second they expire, filling forums and comments with spam links, and luring traffic with offers that are too good to be true.
I read recently that an enterprising pharmaceutical spammer can make up to $4000/day selling Viagra. With that much money out there, it’s unlikely to see us winning the spam war any time soon. Google will keep making tweaks to the search engine model and spammers will keep tweaking their business model to stay ahead.
What Does This Mean For The Good Guys?
Much like the battle between bacteria and anti-bacterial soap, this constant back-and-forth war between Search Engines and spammers means both have gotten really sophisticated. The intricacies of PageRank and link building techniques are getting too complicated for mortals.
It’s not just that techniques in SEO that worked two years ago stopped working, it’s that they can be very detrimental to your business. Google and the other search engines are doing a pretty good job of blacklisting the IP addresses and business names of known spammers and God help you if you end up on those lists.
Focus on Being a Productive Member of the Web Team
Bottom line: You’re not sophisticated enough to do battle on the same playing field as professional link farmers, spammers, and pay per click arbitragers. Just like you wouldn’t try to place bets against professional currency speculators or Wall Street bond wizards, going head to head with professional spammers is a losing battle.
What you do have at your disposal is your deep understanding of your product or service. If you’re a real estate agent, take the time to produce some useful videos about buying foreclosures or managing a fix and flip. If you’re an attorney, spend time answering basic legal questions in an honest and useful way. If you run an organic skin care company, teach people how to take care of their skin and avoid harmful chemicals. Spammers may be very good at fooling search engines, but Google always finds ways to highlight honest links built by real people around quality content. And the goal of every search engine is to find more of your content and less spam. You can win that battle.