Google’s search results have recently been plagued by a relentless and overwhelming spam attack. This attack has resulted in numerous domains ranking for hundreds of thousands of keywords each, indicating the potentially millions of keyword phrases affected. Surprisingly, many of these domains were registered within the past 24-48 hours, raising concerns about the scale and impact of this spam attack.
Unveiling the Link Networks
Bill Hartzer, a reputable expert in the field, shed light on this issue through a series of posts on LinkedIn. Using the Majestic backlinks tool, he revealed the link networks associated with several spam sites. These link graphs showcased numerous websites tightly interlinking with each other, a typical pattern indicative of spammy link networks. However, despite the efforts spammers put into creating these backlink networks, it appears that the high rankings are not solely attributed to these links. Google’s algorithm now places more emphasis on content rather than links – a shift that has inadvertently allowed these spam pages to exploit certain loopholes.
The Power of Longtail Phrases
The first loophole being exploited by spammers is the ease of ranking for longtail phrases. Longtail phrases are keyword phrases that are rarely used, making them less competitive and easier to rank for. Exploiting this concept, spammers create millions of pages targeting longtail phrases, resulting in these pages ranking for hundreds of thousands of keywords within a short period of time. This technique allows them to manipulate the system and gain visibility for their spam content.
To understand the impact of this technique, let’s take a closer look at the concept of longtail. Coined nearly twenty years ago and popularized by the book “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More,” the principle of longtail is utilized by companies like Amazon to sell a vast range of individual products each day. Spammers have cleverly seized on this principle, exploiting the ease of ranking for longtail phrases to gain visibility for their spam content.
Exploiting the Loophole in Local Search
The second loophole that spammers are capitalizing on is the inherent flaw in the local search algorithm. Local search uses a different algorithm than non-local keywords, allowing websites to rank for queries with minimal link building efforts. Instead, these pages need to have the right keywords to trigger the local search algorithm and rank for specific geographic areas. Spammers have identified this vulnerability and are targeting local search phrases, such as variations of popular platforms like Craigslist, to exploit the algorithm and gain visibility for their spam content.
Unveiling the Spam Pages
Unfortunately, gaining direct access to the spam pages is nearly impossible. These sites automatically redirect visitors to other domains, making it challenging to analyze their content. Even with attempts to view the source code or change browser user agents, the spam sites remain elusive. However, through the use of Google’s Rich Results tester, it is possible to gain insight into the HTML of these spam pages. By visiting with a Google IP address, the tester allows us to capture and analyze the HTML of the spam pages, revealing their structure and content.
The Scale of the Spam Attack
The scale of this spam attack is unprecedented. One domain alone has managed to rank for over 300,000 keyword phrases. These keyword phrases range from variations of popular platforms like Craigslist to longtail phrases with a local search element. The ease with which spammers can rank for these keyword phrases highlights the extent of the problem and the need for immediate action.
Understanding Why the Spam Technique Works
The success of this spam technique can be attributed to the difference in algorithms used for local search and non-local search. In general, local websites require fewer links to rank for specific queries. Instead, these pages need to optimize their content with the right keywords to trigger the local search algorithm and gain visibility in specific geographic areas. This vulnerability has been known for years, with examples of websites ranking for longtail local search phrases with minimal effort.
Google’s Response to the Spam Attack
Google is well aware of this spam problem and has been working to combat it. In a tweet by Danny Sullivan, a representative from Google, it was acknowledged that the issue had been brought to the attention of the search team. Efforts are being made to address this spam attack and find a solution to prevent further abuse of the search algorithm.
It remains to be seen how Google will tackle this ongoing issue, but it is clear that they are actively working to combat the spam attack and protect the integrity of their search results.
See first source: Search Engine Journal
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Mediocre Studio; Unsplash – Thank you!
Colin Hughes, a passionate wordsmith and digital raconteur. He ghostwrites for numerous websites that include travel, culture, and lifestyle content. When not traveling for work, he loves to spend his time at home with his husband and two border collies, Reggie and Tuesday.