tenpastmidnight blog

Making hay while the sun shines

Will blog spam fixes stop Google being swamped by blog results?

I was talking to Mr Budd about Google PR the other night at the Wired Sussex Christmas party. He said his 'Page Rank' dropped from 7 to 6 during the last update and while we both agreed that PR isn't the be all and end all of SEO, it still annoyed him that he'd dropped.

After a bit of chat we came to the conclusion that it was because his home site is his blog, and it's mainly linked to by other blogs. Comment spam on blogs is where people or robots automatically post messages in the comments with links to the sites they are promoting. The comments are generally badly-written sales-speak and have no relevance to the blog or post it is attached to. David has had a problem with this recently and the problem has got so bad that technical fixes are being used for the problem, put in by the people behind Movable Type and other blogging systems.

These fixes generally involve all links mentioned in comments being changed so they re-direct through a page on the blogger's own website which then delivers the visitor to the website that the link was originally pointing to. Depending on how you do this, it can mean search engines like Google do not see the link, which means they do not give the target site any Page Rank for the link in their calculations.

This helps stop comment spam because it means it is not worth placing those sales links, as the search engines do not recognise them and therefore rate the target website as being popular. However, it has a negative effect because legitimate comments are also losing the benefit of the links, making them seem less popular than they were - which is probably what has happened to Andy's site. There are probably as many people linking to him from when he comments in other people's blogs, but the links are not being picked up by search engines due to the technical fix to stop comment spammers. Andy's not a spammer, but he and all the other legitimate users get caught up in the same net.

While this situation is not ideal, it may have a side benefit. Various people on the BNM list have complained in the past about Google's results having lots of blogs at the top of the results with unhelpful posts about whatever they are trying to look up. Personally I haven't seen this problem for over a year, but some people are still complaining about it, and it used to be a pet peeve of Andrew Orlowski, one of the writers for The Register. Now these fixes for links are coming in which do not transfer Page Rank, many blogs will be seen as not as popular / not authority sites by Google, so they should naturally drop down from the top rankings they have been enjoying in search results.

So, if the high-up blogs in search results 'problem' is solved, we could have spammers to thank for it. It's a weird world.
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