Microsoft, researchers take aim at 'search spammers'

A new study by a team of Microsoft and University of California researchers has shed light on how so-called "search spammers" work and how advertisers can help stop the practice. Search spam consists of sites that show up all over search result pages and are created for the sole purpose of generating click-through advertising revenue. They're an irritant to users and another way in which the Internet is being abused for profit. The research will be reviewed at the 16th International World Wide Web Conference in Banff, Alberta, in May.

The researchers looked at "redirection spam," where a user clicks on a URL but is then automatically transferred to a different URL or shown advertising content that originates from somewhere else on the Web. For example, a business such as orbitz.com, a popular travel services site, may buy advertising from a syndicator, who then buys space on high-traffic Web pages from an aggregator. In turn, the aggregator buys traffic from Web spammers. The spammers set up the millions of "doorway" pages, designed to show up high in the search engine rankings. They also distribute URLs by inserting them as comments on users' blogs. If those links are clicked, the doorway pages then redirect to other pages, potentially bringing revenue back to its controller via pay-per-click advertising.

The researchers have discovered solutions with new spam detection and Web page analysis. They also narrowed down two blocks of IP addresses that advertisements were directed through to spammers' pages. That bottleneck, they said, "may prove to be the best layer to attacking the search spam problem." A responsibility also lies with advertisers to assert greater control over where and how their ads are placed. "Ultimately, it is advertisers' money that is funding the search spam industry, which is increasingly cluttering the Web with low-quality content and reducing Web users' productivity," they wrote.

News source: InfoWorld

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Search spam is what got me to switch from Google to Live search...

But it is getting bad on Live search too. Hopefully they can figure this out.

I never thought anything would get me to leave Google, but I've been doing just that. I decided to do a comparison between Google and Live Search using identical search terms for somewhat obscure things. Google's results were full of ebay listings, online stores and worst of all tons of completely unrelated pages that said "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page". What is that about? Live Search did a much better job and only returned pages with relevant information. It also returned the results noticeably faster.

This is one of the dirtiest kinds of spam, as it actually makes a profit off of people. Also it eats up good, valuable domains that people could buy and actually put to use. It's always a pain when you try to find a good domain and see some spammer has it stashed away making money off of clueless internet users.