Jan 102011
 

So I’ve been reading a lot lately on the state of the internet and SEO marketing. This post will shed some light on what is currently going on. As many of you reading this may know, Niche site marketing is one popular way to make money online. The basic idea is you use keyword research to find a relatively competition-free area of the web (at least the Google web) and create a niche site. You populate the niche site with some affiliate products, then go to work on marketing the hell out of it. This generally means getting a crazy amount of backlinks to your site, which will then move you up in Google’s search rankings. How do you do this? Write an article, spin it a million times, submit to a million article directories, each article complete at the bottom with an anchor link to your niche site. Having more backlinks gives your site more authority in Google’s eyes but this method of gaining them is actually quite detrimental in more ways than one. Most speculation seems to point to the fact that Google with have to address this situation, but the other questions is, does Google really want to?

(view of a winter sunset through the trees – shot from Otaniemi, Finland)

Google’s search results are sometimes completely wrong. Here’s a fun game to try. Do a search for “Search Engine” in Google. You may be surprised to find what shows up first, second, third, fourth, fifth etc. Hint: It’s not Google! Isn’t that strange that if Google is supposed to be providing people with the best information, and clearly Google is the best search engine (at least for now), why would they not rank themselves first? Google’s algorithm gives a lot of weight to older sites, whether or not the result is relevant today (on a side note, many Internet marketers recommend purchasing an old domain name for exactly this reason). You can see some gaping holes in Google’s algorithm when looking at local results. If you do a search for many big US cities in Google for “big city name” locksmith, you will see an interesting result. For example if you search Los Angeles locksmith, the first result will be a site called los-angeles-locksmith, and if you check it out, you will find that this is not actually a local business. They can direct you to a local business, but why should you go through this extra step? In most cities I checked, I found this company lurking around somewhere on the front page. Most of their titles had the city name with hyphens separating the words (a hint that there is some real SEO thought going into this). Now there’s nothing wrong with this company doing what they are, but from Google’s perspective, shouldn’t they be trying to help their customer by directing them to a legitimate local business? If you spend enough time searching for random things and pay attention, you will find that for many search results, there are strange, unexpected sites showing up.

Now, from a marketers standpoint, this might be good. It means you can get your site ranked high on Google even if it’s not necessarily the best result. However many SEO experts are talking about how Google may be forced to change their algorithm as web SPAM becomes more of a problem. Google Webmaster tools has reportedly started to issue warnings regarding a “notice of detected unnatural links” and a separate warning about cloaking. This warning comes with a threat that “In order to preserve the quality of our search engine, pages from (somedomain).com are scheduled to be removed temporarily from our search results for at least 30 days.”

A new rival search service some of you may have heard of is Blekko. Blekko is a new site and most articles I’ve read suggest that it offers a lot to make search engine marketer’s job easier. Blekko has come up with a new idea for search using slashtags. Slashtags are a way that anyone can make a “vertical” search engine around any topic. For those not familiar with the term, a vertical search engine is one that lets you search in a specific area of interest, rather than across the “horizontal” spectrum of all interests (the way Google works).

Take a look at the video below to see how it works:

While right now you can see it’s not necessarily better than Google for many things. In fact it is lacking in some ways. It may have it’s uses especially as Web Spam becomes more and more of a problem with Google. Blekko’s founders are keenly aware of the problems Google is having with web SPAM. So much so, they have created a SPAM clock http://spamclock.com/ You can watch the number of SPAM pages being indexed by Google rising at an alarming rate. Of course the goal of this traffic is not to inform, but to monetize users through a variety of ad networks.

Marksonland.com blog states in regards to the amount of SPAM created daily “Think about that 1 million pages an hour. Wikipedia is 3.5M articles. Every 3.5 hours a new volume of text the size of wikipedia is unleashed on the internet and unsuspecting users. Every 3.5 hours. 7 wikipedia size corpuses being created every day. Ugh.”

The co-founder of Blekko Rich Skrenta states on his blog Skrenta.com “Consider that in 2000 there were about 7 million hosts on the internet offering essentially all the content on the web. In 2010, the number of web hosts has soared to 250 million. How many of these 200 million plus hosts offer legitimate content? A small fraction. The rest is spam.” And he continues… “Which brings me to my larger point. This spam on the web is creating REAL problems that are affecting much more than our ability just to find information. The energy and other costs for crawling, storing and serving this trash is soaring. I saw a recent estimate that 15% of the world’s energy consumption in 10 years could go to support Internet usage. A fair amount of that energy is being burned by the thousands upon thousands of servers at incumbent search engines. Making search greener by weeding out spam could have a significant impact on energy consumption.”

It’s yet to be seen if a service like Blekko can really do anything to impact the way Google behaves, however I think it’s safe to say, with pressure coming in the form of Blekko, Google may very well re-examine the way it currently ranks pages.

So what does this mean to you (and me)? Keeping this in mind, it is time to branch out and start to think about other techniques to market sites. While article spamming may still continue to work for awhile, it’s days may be numbered. Of course, Google still has a vested interest in delivering ad-delivering, profit-for-Google generating content. To be fair Google does a pretty good job, however at the rate the SPAM is increasing, can this be sustained? Keep an eye on Bing as they may have a better algorithm for SPAM detection and it could be an area where they can actually gain some ground on Google.

Hope you enjoyed this post! Please comment with your opinion! I’d appreciate it if you Like me on Facebook! Thanks for reading, Nick.

 

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  4 Responses to “2011 SEO: Examining the effect of SPAM on search results and the Rise of Blekko”

  1. I look at it this way – spam is not going to stop.

    Every search engine to have ever existed has had an algorithm for determining results. *Even if the SE remains completely tight-lipped about how they rank pages*, after some time period an approximation of how the algo works can be determined by some people just by using the search engine which is successively tweaked and experimented with. SE traditionally have not remained tight-lipped in any case as you may already know.

    So first a couple of people work it out after some time period, blog about it, sell info about it – whatever, ways to game the algos become known to all and sundry very quickly. Then marketers set about using this info and spam the hell out of results, then automated tools become available and everyone gets into a race to spam the most anchored backlinks (in Google’s case).

    Part of the reason Google achieved such prominence in a short period of time when it first became public was that it offered results that were relatively spam free whereas it’s competitors had become somewhat like Google is now – spam everywhere. Then we went through the process outlined above and here we are.

    I’d place a lot of money on Blekko being similarly spammed if and when it becomes a SE that most people use.

  2. There are 2 ways humans can get rid of spam websites on Blekko. Neither one can be easily defeated.

    The first is that people can add you to their personal /spam tag. The only way around this is creating new spam sites, but branded sites like eHow and experts-exchange are stuck.

    The second is that people won’t add spam sites to slashtags. Like wikipedia, slashtags with high traffic are watched carefully. You have to be invited by an existing editor, and when you add a spam site, users will quickly notice. And if you get noticed, you’ll be thrown out of the editors list for the slashtag, along with the person who invited you. Plus individual users will add visible spam sites to their individual spam tags.

    I’m sure that Blekko’s *algorithm* might have trouble with spam if we get to be more popular. But the editor system and personal spam tags are hard to subvert.

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