Interview with a link spammer
It is sad that link spamming pays off so well that people can make a good living out of it. PPC (Porn, Pills, Casino) pays off as people keep searching for it and clicking the links. Comment spamming is not a large scale business like eMail spam yet. The link spammers post links to their own sites which in turn direct the user to sites that sells the goods.
Why not just buy a Google ad, Sam? "You don't get anything like the same click-through ratio. Jakob Nielsen's studies and my own show you get six or seven times more click-throughs from 'organic' search results. And pay-per-click on search engines costs money! It can be £20 per click! We pay nothing to get an organic result." But what about the moral question, that you're using other peoples' bandwidth and blog space and abusing it by putting your commercial message there? "The question of morals is one for the individual. While it's legal, it will continue. It could be argued that a website owner is actually inviting content to their site when they allow comments."
Not all is lost though.The link spammers life an be made more difficult:
- CAPTCHA uses images that are hard to recognize for computers so automation is impossible. It breaks comments from RSS readers and some trackbacks so it's a two edged sword.
- Systems that require registration and you have to click on a link either in the registration email or online
- Their goal is to get as high as possible in the Google search ranking for a given search term. Using the nofollow attribute prevents the links from being indexed but only on the sites that implement it.
- Change the default filenames and folder names. If they know you are running .text the submit url of the form will always follow the same syntax. Change the URLs and they have to modify their script for your site instead of using a standard boilerplate script.
Limiting by IP rarely work as the spammers use the thousands of open proxy servers on the internet.