The Spam Evolution and What Not to Do

January 14, 2009

Spam has come a long way since the early days of the Internet. Bruce argues that it’s even become more malicious along the way. Initially Web users may have accidentally created Web spam, such as cloaking and keyword stuffing, without knowing the potential harm spam can cause. However, as the Web has developed, search engines have since become clearer on what constitutes spam. As a result, users creating spam are more likely to know they are doing so, and yet continue to do it on purpose. Susan, Bruce and Virginia start off the show by taking a look at the changing face and definition of spam, as well as current efforts to police and control Web spam.

Bruce Clay, Inc. Senior Analyst Scott Polk then talks to Virginia about how spam affects the social media space and link building efforts. Michael Gray brought up the scenario of Google implementing a “report social media spam” form, and Lisa Barone asked if social media links would be devalued as a ranking factor because of the ease in which they can be abused. Scott agrees that spammers and search engines are involved in a never-ending cycle in which spammers take advantage of a loophole while search engines try to close it.

Wrapping up the show, Susan, Maryann and Virginia describe spammy techniques to avoid on your site. However, it’s important to keep in mind the intent behind the use of such techniques, as a noble intent behind a sometimes spammy tactic can leave a different footprint than the same tactic used with malicious intent. Cloaking a page, for instance, in order to clean up a spider-unfriendly URL is acceptable, whereas cloaking to hide something from a search engine is not.