denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote in [site community profile] dw_news 2012-04-12 08:51 pm (UTC)

It'll generally look like individual blog articles with fancy formatting on a variety of topics with a handful of links thrown into the bottom. The biggest giveaway is fairly stilted prose (they assemble the posts by scraping other blog posts and running a script that replaces two or three words per sentence with synonyms), at least one picture per post that has very little to do with the actual content, and at least two or three links per post to the same place.

It helps the spammers because of how search engine rankings work -- Google gives more "google juice", aka a higher-placed search result, to pages that have more links to them. So if you want Site X to appear high in the search ranking, you get a lot of other sites to link to Site X. In the early days, people figured that out really quickly and started coming up with ways to manufacture lots of links to their sites, so Google started adjusting their algorithm to weed out spammy links. This has led to a really bad arms race in which people try to use all kinds of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques -- some of them are totally legit, and some of them are really spammy. This tactic is on the "really spammy" end: the goal is to make something that looks like a "real" blog, with links to Site X sprinkled throughout, so the search engine considers those inbound links to be good links instead of spam links.

The inane comment thing: that's what's known as a "test campaign". They happen here too, they just tend to be anonymous. You'll generally note that there's a keysmash in the subject line, or that one word in the text of the comment is distinctly misspelled -- the spammers leave the comments, then wait a week or whatever and go search for the keysmash or the distinct misspelling. It lets them see how well the search engine 'sees' the site they're spamming on, as a test to see how much benefit they'd get from spamming it with their actual advertising later.

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