free html hit counter WSJ Discovers Referral Spam | John Battelle's Search Blog

WSJ Discovers Referral Spam

By - May 03, 2005

Over at the WSJ (free link) Lee Gomes notes how spam clogs up SERPs, and then realizes that the major engines are to blame for it:

…a kind of schizophrenia exists at search-engine companies. Half their engineering staff is busy trying to keep useless pages out of search results; the other half is busy coming up with tools that make it easier for people to create and profit from the useless pages in the first place.

He’s right, of course. We all have seen the crap that lards up results, pretending to be “services” of one sort or another. Is it spam? Well, it’s clearly affiliate- and AdSense-driven sludge. At best, it’s gray. But it’s funny, lately I have to say that the big guys are doing a pretty good job of trimming this stuff out of their results. Gomes notes that he found these sites while looking for home repair information.

In setting about on these projects, I naturally planned to use the Web as a resource to not only bone up on topics like roof repair, but also to find experienced and honest local trades people to hire. How lucky we are, thought I, to be able to do spring cleaning in the age of broadband.

What I actually found online was a different story. No matter what I searched for, I ended up with a distressingly large percentage of what might be called second-generation Web spam.

In fact, I’ve been doing the same kind of searches, and on Google anyway, I’ve found that the index is surprising clear of spam for searches like “roof repair,” “new deck,” and “window replacement.” I found pretty good results on Yahoo for these terms as well.

Hat Tip: Andy.

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  • http://www.google.com/webmasters/ GoogleGuy

    I thought this line was interesting: “This is not the search spam of the early Internet, where you would search for “Disney” and instead get a sex page.” I think most search engines are doing a better job with that type of spam, but they also need to be looking forward to what people will be trying next.