HOW MANY WAYS CAN I TAG-SPAM THEE?
OK, so it's not the darker side of tags, but again, how tags as another great web tool can be mis-used. Over the last couple of days, I've read a good post by VC Fred Wilson on his take on blogs, tags, and RSS feeds, along with a more tongue-in-cheek post by web entrepreneur Marc Pincus, on they can be used for purposes different than its original design. Both are of note if you're new to the tagging thing.
This morning, Om Malik has a sobering post on the anecdotal increase in the use of tags, especially Technorati tags, to feed traffic into automated spam blogs.
I'd touched on these a couple of weeks ago in a post on "Blog plagiarism", in which talked about how content was being skimmed from blogs into this spam blog farm. There were follow ups to that post here and here.
Om now points out how these folks may be using tags to start feeding traffic into these blogs. As he explains it:
"I discovered that if the tag was “mortgage” it took me to special tagged page. However, most of the links on the tagged page essentially were some sort of a spam-blog, which basically was set-up for the express purpose of extracting money from Google.
Never mind, Technorati gets money from AdSense. I checked out other tags like VoIP, Broadband, DSL, Cable, Vioxx and what not. (I did not check all the popular tags, but I hope you do!) The entries were highly dominated by spam links. Interestingly, the page ranks of these tagged pages were pretty high."
Couple of tangential questions that come to mind:
- Are "spam blogs" now another, new form of click fraud for Google, Yahoo! et al to focus on?
- How much do these "spam blogs" contribute to the robust revenue growth of the portals currently?
It'd be interesting to get David Sifry's (Technorati founder) take on all this. He just had another helpful "State of the Blogosphere" post up talking about how impressively blogging is growing in general, which Fred noted this morning.
Technorati is likely seeing this mis-use of their tags because of their popularity in blog search. I would presume the other blog search services are also noticing an uptick in this activity. Also, it'd be interesting to see if the tagging companies like delicious are seeing this trend as well.
This may be something the industry may be able to nip in the bud.