Picture this: you’re at a search engine entering your search words, and up comes the perfect result – the caption contains exactly what you wanted, in more detail than you specified. Great is your dismay and disappointment as you visit that site, realizing that there is nothing but a flurry of buzz words, your search words buried within, and stacks upon stacks of advertisements. You’ve been had by a SEO trap. How about this one: you search for some mainstream topic and the result contains pages upon pages bogged down with the identical article hosted by various blogs.
You know what I’m talking about eh. It’s happened to you too; it’s damn annoying and to add insult to injury, those sites are generating revenue for doing nothing but wasting your time. Welcome to the world of Blog Bogging and SEO Traps, the sorry state that search engines have degenerated to. Originally designed with the intent of indexing and sharing information, search engines are now seen as tools for generating revenue as effectively as is possible. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for “e-vertisement” and popular sites earning some revenue; I think it’s a brilliant advancement of the internet. However it just grinds my gears seeing search engines get spammed in the name of generating undeserved revenue while we’re just not getting what we expected or wanted from an e-search.
Undeserved, I say? Yes! Lets talk about Blog Bogging – blogs containing virtually no original content from its respective owner, while the majority of its articles are simply carbon copies of hot topics from another source, guaranteed to generate traffic. People might say “come on man the internet is for sharing” and I couldn’t agree more but if they truly wanted to share, simply dropping the link and perhaps a summary on their blogs, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Digg, and on other forms of social media would suffice. This is all about shamelessly milking the system for profit, with another person’s work at that!
So why is Blog Bogging so bad anyway? Lets assume that Justin Bieber gives an interview which appears on a major news site. He is clearly a “hot topic” in the media and this article would undoubtedly generate heavy traffic to the news site. Now the blog boggers wish to capitalize on this, and start re-posting the article on their site in hopes of catching some of this traffic because more traffic means more revenue generated by advertisements. Immoral? Absolutely! Weren’t we taught in school to hand in your own work? But it doesn’t even stop there, search engines will start finding this article everywhere with the buzzword “Bieber” and because of repetition and site linking, the article relevance will be boosted to high heaven. Now you come along and search for “Bieber” and this article is the bulk of what you will see unless you are prepared to sift through pages of search results. If said article was what you wanted, very good, but what if you wanted something else relevant to Justin Bieber? Happy digging!
I don’t condone Blog Bogging but at least media sharing still happens and the user is given something to read. The much worse form of internet spam appears in the form of SEO traps. How often have you found in your search result the ideal page caption of what you wanted, only to discover that you’ve been given the ol’ bait & switch? The page in question doesn’t actually have the information you seek. It doesn’t even have information relevant to the topic. In fact, it doesn’t have any information whatsoever! What the page does contain is an abundance of buzzwords relevant to current hot topics in news, science, retail, etc and, very noticeably, an enormous volume of advertisements as well as links hinting at that which you seek but leading to yet another SEO trap site.
It goes to say that this is awful! You end up wasting your time, search engines get cluttered with sites that don’t at all have what they claim to have and worse yet, the owners are laughing their way to the bank! Due to their nature of using the popular buzzwords, and the inter-site linking (it always seems that the SEO trap sites are all in bed together) SEO traps also gain a high relevance in search engines.
I don’t like this search engine spam, I do not like it one bit. Not in a box, not with a fox. It’s not right that revenues are being earned through other people’s work, it’s not right that revenues are being earned through false-advertisement. What can we do about it? Not so much immediately unfortunately. I’d say that it is the search engine’s responsibility to take measures against being spammed.
To remedy Bog Blogging, search engines should ideally reduce the relevance of sites that have mooched articles. However this proposal isn’t viable, determining the source site and tracking the article would be difficult, and solution deviates from search engine behaviour. Perhaps a fair solution could be to measure article similarity and group similar articles in an expandable section, leaving more space for diversified search results. To combat SEO Traps, the best way would be to take advantage of user feedback through a quality evaluation of the search results. Users should be able to down-rate, or even up-rate a site to advise the search engine on how to better serve search results.