A few weeks back the entire blogging world, Spamroll included, was talking about how WordPress was gaming its search engine rankings. Setting up tons of pages to press advertising against is no way to make a living. If you site, product, whatever, can’t stand up to a decent business model, then it is time to move on. Unfortunately, the simplicity of PPC advertising makes scraping for a few extra bucks pretty easy.
None of this is going to end soon, and with aggregators galore popping up to stake their claim, I suspect it is going to get worse before it gets better.
Case in point, Syndic8.
Syndic8 is a feed aggregator. They accept submission for RSS feeds, classifying them by subject matter and making them searchable. They do a pretty good job of it, and the service is free.
According to WebProNews, Syndic8 has been placing links to advertising specific subdomains at the bottom of their pages. Links including “mortgage.syndic8.com” and “insurance.syndic8.com”, popular subject matter from a search/keyword standpoint, point to generic content and Google ads. While this is not illegal or fattening, Google considers it immoral. It detracts from search quality, as the subdomains gain PageRank from links from the popular Syndic8 index page. As of the time of this post, Syndic8.com was garnering a PageRank of exactly zero, nadda, zilcho. It seems Google moved quickly to put a stop to the issue.
This all brings up an interesting point. As the number of feed aggregators grows, where are they going to generate their revenue. It costs money to run one of those things – while much of the software can be had in an open source form, gathering all that XML takes a decent amount of hardware, and a lot of bandwidth. While Syndic8 may survive this latest ordeal, due to its apparent ubiquity, many others won’t.
Meanwhile, it just goes to show you that short term gain just doesn’t pay (at least not after Google finds out).
PS: For those who still don’t quite get how all this Google gaming works, InformationWeek’s blog has a nice little primer on how it goes down. And they agree with Spamroll – it is about short-term gain at the expense of long-term value.
About.com has developed yet more explanation of how search engine spam works here.