Spotting a splog

Spam blogs, sometimes referred to by the neologism splogs, are artificially created weblog sites which the author uses to promote affiliated websites or to increase the search engine rankings of associated sites. The purpose of a splog can be to increase the PageRank or backlink portfolio of affiliate websites, to artificially inflate paid ad impressions from visitors, and/or use the blog as a link outlet to get new sites indexed.  Spam blogs are usually a type of scraper site, where content is often either inauthentic text or merely stolen from from the RSS feeds of other websites. These blogs usually contain a high number of links to sites associated with the splog creator which are often disreputable or otherwise useless websites.  Source: Wikipedia

  • Steals blog content with no notice to the original authors or accreditation.
  • Fails to provide a means of contacting the site owner (often the contact and about pages are broken links).

In her article How to spot a splog Lorelle says:

“Splogs, spamming blogs, are often little more than link farms, a bunch of text stuffed with links to whatever they are selling. The easiest way to identify a splog is when nothing adds up nor matches. The content doesn’t match the links. The content doesn’t match the blog title or post title. There is a signature or name in the article that doesn’t match with the name of the post author or submitter.”

spyglass
spyglass

Angela Swanlund is a new blogger friend of mine.  She’s been a full time professional freelance writer for 2 years, and part time for over 7. She’s an Author for the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, History and Culture and is currently retained on contract to research the 1946 unsolved “Moonlight Murders” that took place in Texarkana, Arkansas. True crime is her normal genre, and she has covered such notorious individuals as Ronald Gene Simmons and the West Memphis Three.  On occasion she  does freelance work for area newspapers such as the Ozarks Farm and Neighbor, a 3 state regional farming publication. She also owns I also own Rural Family Living, LLC, a small retail sales business.

Angela and her co-author Patti Ann Stafford, the Editor of The Music Rocks!,  have an emerging blog. Angela recently had blog content stolen and she has shared some splog spotting tips that I’d like to pass on to you.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard the terms “splog” and “scraper”, here are a few warning signs that a blog may not be what it appears to be.

(1)  If someone posts a shameless plug in very poor English, but has a blog that’s expertly written – there’s a chance the content has been stolen.

(2)  If the blog has been around for quite some time, 6 months or more, and has no Google rank – the bar is completely GRAY in color – there’s a good chance Google has already detected duplicate content, and blocked the blog from search results.

(3)  If the blog has only been around a month or so and has an extremely high Google page rank, such as a 4 or 5, there’s a good chance the blogger is stealing page rank by using a redirect and cloaking tactic.

(3)  There is nothing wrong with advertising! Advertising is not an automatic indication of wrong doing with a blog. However, if a blog has what appears to be an over abundance of TLA (text link ads) there is a chance the blog is for the sole purpose of making money. It’s advisable not to share links with a blog that contains an over abundance of TLA type advertising because the chances are great that Google will detect and block this blog from search results – rendering your back link useless.

(4)  An abundance of affiliate type advertising is also not a direct indication of any wrong doing! Affiliate marketing is a very viable source of income for a blog, and when done properly – an added bonus for readers as well. Even the “big dogs” such as Lowe’s and WalMart have affiliate programs. What you want to look out for are blogs with an abundance of “get rich quick” affiliate links. These types of links sometimes even lead to virus infections and severe browser problems such as homepage reset and redirects when surfing.

(5)  Watch out for unrealistic FeedBurner subscription numbers! This one is becoming increasingly popular. If you see a blog with little content, no page rank, no comments, and what looks like very little traffic – yet they have a FeedBurner subscription indicator that say’s they have 12,457 subscribers – beware! If they would willfully use code to alter and fake their subscriber list, you can practically rest assured they’ve used other tactics on their blog as well.

(6)  Other indicators that all is not well can include a lack of contact information for the owner, at the very least there should be an email address somewhere.

(7)  A lack of timely posts, huge gaps in the posting calendar followed by bursts of several posts in a row on the same day often indicates someone that blogs only when they have paid reviews to do.

(8)  Bad judgment where credits are concerned – I see this quite often, a blogger will alter the code on WordPress templates and remove the template creator’s name and replace it with their own. Photographs without a mouse over “alt” tag, and no credit given anywhere are another indication of bad judgment.  Source

Related posts found in this blog:
How to copyright your digital works
SlogSpot: Dealing with content thieves
Splog Off! Dealing with content theft
What is copyright?

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12 thoughts on “Spotting a splog

  1. Pingback: Content thief! Jaipal Banal & mkarunreddy « onecoolsitebloggingtips

  2. Pingback: Technorati Indexing: Two Steps « one cool site: wordpress blogging tips

  3. For a quick second I was worried. I have other blogs to promote my blogs but they are not copy & paste, they are not feed burnered, not machine written and they make some sense. Though, I tend to ramble on a bit. There I briefly mention PP or My Thoughts then I mention something like how social networking or some such can help your blog. Those blogs are more helpful for bloggers than my blogs that I promote.

  4. Hi there Robert,
    Thanks for letting me know you read the article and found it useful. I do believe that you should also read the “related posts found in this blog” as they will assist you in deciding on what kind of a copyright license to place on your blog.
    Happy blogging :)

  5. Man, I am such a rookie at this. I must read up on this splog thing. I am glad I found your site. I am still learning the technical aspects of blogging.
    There is so much to learn. Thanks.

  6. @Joseph
    When we first begin blogging our comprehension of what’s going on and why we ought to do this or that is cloudy. As we proceed we begin to become more by a variety of bloggers that approach the same subjects from different angles and eventually a light shines into the darkness and we begin to gain understanding. Thanks for your compliment, and your comment, and best wishes for happy blogging.

  7. Dear time,

    You have a wonderful blog network, I am a real newbie to all this and although I have been reading some of your advise I have to be honest and tell you that it I don’t understand it all. Thanks for stopping by my blog I appreciate the visit. I hope to make good use of your generosity.

    Regards,

    Joseph

  8. @sayzlim
    Some people are just plain silly. Bloggers are too smart to get sucked in by phony feedburner subscription images. You say you don’t know what to do about splogs. Please read my comment immediately above made to iritza to find the information you want.
    Best wishes for happy blogging :)

  9. @irtiza
    My post called Splog Off! Dealing with content theft provides step-by-step instructions for getting your stolen content removed from a splog. It includes a fill-in-the-blanks form for making a DMCA complaint as well.

    Your lack of page rank in a new and emerging personal development blog is not connected to Google thinking your blog is a splog. It frequently takes 3 or more months to achieve a page rank. The most important factor is getting back links from bloggers who link back to your posts. From what I can see you are off to a good start. I also believe that these posts will be helpful when it comes to understanding how page rank is determined and how to improve it.
    Improving your Google Page Rank
    Technorati: The Six Month Link Window
    Happy blogging :)

  10. One of the trick I find it’s not creative at all is making a gif image and replace with feedburner chicklet. Well, it may tricks some people but I can smell something odd once I see their feed. :D, I don’t really know how to fight splog, how I wish I can remove their splog.

    I think most of use (who always view blog) can see if the blog is written by people or machine or maybe a machine people who only know ctrl+c and ctrl+v. Or maybe people who can only see affiliate link and $$$, but get nothing…

  11. hi,tt, very informative post. i didnt know the meaning of splog before and now i know too much.

    @number 2 tip: i’ve been blogging for 2.5 months now and i dont have any page rank. does it mean that google thinks my blog is splog.

    peace

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