First, Google did great things in helping everyone find relevant information on the web. Now it is one of those helping to add clutter. The blog-provider blogger.com, acquired by Google some time ago, is one of those blogservices enabling splogs. Within the across the Sound Podcast, Steve Rubel also mentions this upcoming problem. There is a couple of stories about this, here, here and here.
The move was designed to doctor search results and boost traffic to those sites by fooling the search-engine spiders that crawl the Web looking for commonly linked-to destinations.
Email spam is bad, as it clogs up user’s email box and make it difficult for marketers to send even permission based emails, as these might not be opened either.
Splogs don’t affect users directly (apart from those subscribed to certain RSS feeds). But it can have a large negative impact on the blogosphere (and consumer generated media, as Steve puts it), as well as information access. As the quote above says, it’s about fooling searchengines and hence distorting searchengine results in the favour of the splogged (ie linked to) websites.
If a bot creates a couple of fake blogs all linking to a site for, say, Viagra, tagged with „pharmaceutical“ and other tags, then this will have a high position within a search for pharmaceuticals. Even though the user will (probably) have searched for more objective information.
Technorati writes, that 2% – 8% of new weblogs are fake or spam weblogs.
So this might indeed have a direct impact for users. If good information cannot be found as easily any more because of bad information, because the search results show too many splogged sites, then the whole concept of the web as a medium for quickly finding relevant information is in danger.
So what can be done?
First option: filter blogs from search results. But this is not really what the search engines will want (remember Yahoo! integrating blogs into news search results). This would kill most consumer generated media and put the web back to where it was 5 years ago. Not to mention of the loss of valuable information that quite a few bloggers provide!
second option: make it impossible for the bots to open blogs automatically. There must be a technical solution for this, Google!!
btw, Fightsplog wants to take action, so go there an help (if you can).