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This 78 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 78 ( 1 [2] 3 > >     
"Spam is an Arms Race"
- Douglas Merrill/Google
glengara




msg:745953
 11:38 am on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Online search is not a "solved problem", a senior executive for net giant Google has told BBC News.
"Our position is that search is a very hard problem. We have still a lot of work to do," said Douglas Merrill, who looks after internal engineering.

[news.bbc.co.uk...]

Linkspam - not often featured on the BBC front page, are we in for a rough(er)ride?

[edited by: engine at 11:43 am (utc) on July 3, 2006]
[edit reason] added snippet [/edit]

 

whitenight




msg:745983
 3:25 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Solving one problem only creates another. So don't pass off solving the adsense problem because another will follow. That is natural in business.

Indeed.

G is literally paying people to spam them and make their product worse. Some might say that's a bad business model but what do those people know. ;)

europeforvisitors




msg:745984
 4:13 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

G is literally paying people to spam them and make their product worse.

AdSense was conceived with a legitimate goal: to allow "little guys" (not just corporates) to earn money from their Web content, with Google taking a share. One can argue that Google should have foreseen the Pandora's Box that it was creating with AdSense, or that it should have been more selective in the beginning instead of regarding spam as the cost of acquiring a dominant share of the contextual text-ad market.

Still, there's nothing new about different parts of large companies working at cross-purposes or even competing with each other. The AdSense team has its goals (maximize revenues), while the Google Search team has its goals (maximize quality of search). Ultimately, there may be greater cooperation between the two teams than we've seen in the past (example: the recently-announced caching and sharing of crawl data by the search and AdSense bots), but to retain its credibility in search, Google has to maintain the traditional "Chinese wall" between advertising (AdSense) and editorial (search).

whitenight




msg:745985
 4:32 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have no problems with adsense persay.

(Note: I do not use it and find it to be a "weak" affiliate program as far as monetizing a website)

But as you hint at, Google is working at competing interests within their own company.

In the end, it's the PRODUCT(search) that makes G profitable or not. Not what method they use to monetize their own site.
(Hmm. Seems like I heard Google employee #1 muttering something like this to webmasters)

I wonder if they have calculated how much it costs to pay salaries to quality control teams to constantly tweak results for MFA spammers; the storage costs for the sheer billions of pages created for this sole purpose; and the loss of credibility and market share

vs.

what that MFA revenue brings in?

trinorthlighting




msg:745986
 4:40 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Adsense and spam.... Its google's biggest struggle. Adsense is how they make their $$$

I would really like to hear an official definition of spam from google.

Google and Matt Cutts always use the word, but what is the official definition... or do we leave it up to how matt feels for the day, if he likes the website, etc..

whitenight




msg:745987
 4:43 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

One can argue that Google should have foreseen the Pandora's Box that it was creating with AdSense

Which brings us back to the argument that NO computer will EVER outsmart a human brain.

rohitj




msg:745988
 5:08 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

In my mind, most arms races every participant is a loser. To say Google wins or loses and talking about this as an Arms race, is getting away from reality.

The reality, in my mind, is that Google is trying constantly to make their service better and more effective at fighting spam. The question is at what point are you satisfied with spam--when 99% is elminiated or 99.9%? Its not going to reach a 100% but it could get to 99.9999%. For most of us, it wouldn't make a difference at that point but if you're a major search engine trying to get a competitive edge, you're going to keep pushing the R&D expenses. In my mind, that's a situation where every party involved loses (end-users may be better off if that R&D expense was spent elsewhere etc.,) and thus the analogy of the arms race is applicable.

rohitj




msg:745989
 5:13 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

One poster at the beginning of this thread stated that Google would lose this Arms race because of their own arrogance, their insistence that they can outsmart most webmasters.

I, personally, believe that the engineers at Google are smarter than the vast majority of webmasters out there. And they can--and have--made it very hard to be outsmarted. This is why their search engine is amazing and why I believe they'll do just fine in this "Arms Race"

Gimp




msg:745990
 5:47 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

May I suggest that you read the book "An Army Of Davids".

The combined knowledge of the Army of Wwebmasters will eventually beat Google.

Just look how a small group at Dynaweb has gotten around the Chineese google block.

Google has been messed up for at least a year now with the Jagger update and so on and they still can't stop the onslaught.

soapystar




msg:745991
 5:54 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

i still think the point here is not the failure of google spam filters..its the failure of BD..filters that were in place and doing their job are proving useless on the new infrastucture...hands up the number of you that have seen your old naughty sites take on a new lease of life post BD while your geunine content white hat site has fallen foul of the new serps..

yes the big gun spammers are always going to find a new loophole to jump through and make some quick pickings till that hole gets plugged..but we are not tlking about advances by black hat webmasters..we are talking about 3 year old classic link and network spamming..

ken_b




msg:745992
 8:55 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Anyone care to hazard a guess at the ratio of Google-antispammer-staff vs Spamming-google-for-fun-and-profit crowd?

BigDave




msg:745993
 9:10 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Since when is Google in an arms race with all webmasters? I thought they were in an arms race with spammers, which is a very small subset of the webmasters.

Google is actually on the same side as the majority of webmasters.

There will always be spam getting through, though at the same time, Google will contiue to block most of it just as most webmasters with half a brain will successfully block most comment spam on their site.

BigDave




msg:745994
 9:17 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Anyone care to hazard a guess at the ratio of Google-antispammer-staff vs Spamming-google-for-fun-and-profit crowd?

They are amlost certainly WAY outnumbered. But I don't think that is the relevant ratio.

How many of those that are spamming-google-for-fun-and-profit are basically just a much more recent version of script-kiddies who just run things that other people think up?

How many people out there are actively trying, and are also capable of, coming up with new successful spamming methods. Not using some method that they heard about that actually works, but comes up with something new?

gregbo




msg:745995
 10:03 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Online search is not a "solved problem", a senior executive for net giant Google has told BBC News. "Our position is that search is a very hard problem. We have still a lot of work to do," said Douglas Merrill, who looks after internal engineering.

Wish they'd admitted this years ago, rather than claiming their algorithms were immune to index spam.

BigDave




msg:745996
 11:22 pm on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

rather than claiming their algorithms were immune to index spam.

Do you have a citation for that? I've never heard that mentioned before.

markus007




msg:745997
 6:05 am on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google will win the spam race. Every day more and more real content is created. 2 or 3 years ago there were many categories that had no real good content and it was easy for spam to dominate. That is not the case now and going forward spam will be burried under all the real content that is being created. As time goes on I get the feeling it will be harder and harder for new domains to rank for anything.

Powdork




msg:745998
 8:50 am on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

How many people out there are actively trying, and are also capable of, coming up with new successful spamming methods. Not using some method that they heard about that actually works, but comes up with something new?
I've been trying to spam them with relevant links and unique content for years now, to no avail. They sure are smart.

As far as MFA's go...
Google's policy of "You've got an account, go to town" is the same as bartenders bringing a round of shots to your car before you leave their parking lot. It's stupid, it's irresponsible, but at least they sold another round of shots.
Creators of mfa's should have every item related to their account flagged for life. Every domain (and subdomain) should be checked prior to approval and at least once during it's first year.

tr95




msg:745999
 12:58 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Why not adapt the strategy used by Yahoo Mail to combat spam email to spam search results? Yahoo Mail sends all mail identified as spam to a bulk folder, which I never touch. Spam emails rarely get into the inbox, and when they do, users can notify Yahoo by marking them as spam. Some legitimate emails -- mostly newsletters -- are directed to the bulk mail folder. Eventually, the newsletters complain to Yahoo, which marks them as not spam.

Rather than trying to eliminate spam, search engines should provide partial, spam-free search results using an aggressive filter, with all websites believed to be spammy directed to a bulk folder that would not be displayed. The user would have the option of clicking on a Bulk search button at the top of the results page to display all search results, including the bulk folder. Naturally, some legitimate websites would wind up in the bulk folder. Webmasters of such mistargeted sites would have the burden of notifying the search engines to have an employee review their sites for exclusion from the filter.

I'm not as bothered by spam in search results as irrelevancy. If the five most relevant websites for a given search appear in the top 30 results, the search has been successful whether the other 25 results are spam or simply irrelevant. But if, as so often is the case now on Google, the five most relevant results are buried below 100-200 useless results, the search has been a failure.

Recently, when I was researching an obscure academic subject, I found the number one website to be a college professor's personal site in which he has posted complete copies of lengthy papers and book chapters written over the course of 40 years. I did not find the site in Google, which returned nothing relevant, but not necessarily spam, in response to various search requests. I found the site in Yahoo, in which it ranked at or near the top of a search that failed in Google. I didn't notice whether other results in Yahoo were spammy, and I don't care, because I found what I was looking for.

Gimp




msg:746000
 1:11 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

In the same light, search engines other than google could put all websites with adsense in them in a separate folder that the searching person could choose to view if he so wished.

Liane




msg:746001
 2:15 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

They have to learn how to control adsense abuse

I'll second that! Clearly, a lot of the spam generated is built solely for adsense. It is unbelieveably nauseating from a users point of view.

However ... who says Google wants to stop this sort of spam? Its a huge money maker for them and their single largest weapon against Yahoo and MSN!

Let's not forget that all these built for adsense sites are indexed by MSN, Yahoo and all other SE's too! Google wins no matter what. Its not a moral victory by any stretch, (they have nothing to be proud of with the spam adsense has generated) ... but it sure is a financial victory for them and a major thorn in the side of the other SE's who have to try to cope with this crap.

When Google stops making it so lucrative for spammers to generate all their crap ... maybe the end user will finally see some respectable search results. But we all know this will never happen ... so let the "so called" arms race and the perpetual discussions about "what Google should do about spam" continue. It is a battle which will never end and the end user will always be the loser. They are the real casualties of this "arms race".

Webmasters can only choose which route they want to follow. Personally, I have always maintained that building content is the way to go, but I can also understand the temptation to jump on the spammy adsense bandwagon. In fact, just last night I was thinking it was time to consider adsense. I would never do it for my existing site, but I see no reason not to try to cash in on adsense with some other product. I hear it can be very lucrative!

Unfortunately, relevance and quality content (and other such noble notions) only carry so much weight these days. Its the money the Search Engines are after ... and adsense delivers! Since you can't beat them, you may as well join them.

All aboard! ..... ;)

europeforvisitors




msg:746002
 3:18 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

When Google stops making it so lucrative for spammers to generate all their crap ... maybe the end user will finally see some respectable search results.

I agree that AdSense has been a boon for the get-rich-quick crowd, but overall, I'd say there's less spam in Google's travel SERPs than there was a few years ago when boilerplate affiliate pages dominated many if not most travel searches. If AdSense went away tomorrow, we'd still have machine-generated sites with millions of keyword-driven "post a review" pages. Those pages are so cheap to generate that they don't need AdSense to justify their existence financially--they'd be making money even if they had to rely on run-of-network banner ads.

Liane




msg:746003
 5:52 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

If AdSense went away tomorrow, we'd still have machine-generated sites with millions of keyword-driven "post a review" pages.

Sigh ... you're right of course. :(

adamovic




msg:746004
 6:52 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

The user would have the option of clicking on a Bulk search button at the top of the results page to display all search results, including the bulk folder.

They could implement "mark as spam" button in Google toolbar. But, somebody could write software which could kill the competition by developing "click virus" which use that "mark as spam" button. Honestly, I expect that "mark as spam" button.

whitenight




msg:746005
 7:29 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

If AdSense went away tomorrow, we'd still have machine-generated sites with millions of keyword-driven "post a review" pages

Hmm. I thought about this some. And the more I thought about it, the less respect I have for G$$gle as a company.

It's the analogy of a major industrial company creating a product that is highly profitable but, as a side effect, produces a ridiculous amount of toxic waste and pollutants to the environment.

The average company says, "That's the price of doing business, besides there a ALOT of other things that create pollution and waste as well. So what does it matter?"

However we are talking about G-o-o-g-l-e.
The company who's motto was "Do no evil"...

Who's founders talk about "creating Utopias"...

Heck, even half-way responsible companies without such hypocritcal rhetoric would see the harmful "side-effects" of their profits and do something to minimize the analogous "pollution".

And that's exactly what MFA is - pollution and toxic waste that ruins the entire internet eco-sphere for EVERYONE, while they keep on profiting.

And I can hear G and it's supporters saying, "Well we do our best to remove "spammy" MFA sites from our index so we are doing our part to control it"

So what?!

That's like shipping the toxic waste and pollution to another countries (Yahoo, MSN, and the WWW as a whole) and telling the home-town citizens,
"Hey, at least it's not in YOUR neighborhood. Out of sight, out of mind. There's no more we can do"

What hogwash!

There's alot more they can do about it. They fully understand the harmful "toxic" side-effects of their product. As someone mentioned earlier, just because it seems like an "unavoidable" problem doesn't mean that a responsible company doesn't do it's best to minimize or eliminate it altogether.

Google, get your act together! Stop polluting the world wide web and internet environment with the harmful side-effects of your profits.
STOP counting your money for a minute and take responsibility for doing something to create the internet "utopias" you so loudly pronounce in your Press Releases.....

rbacal




msg:746006
 7:49 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Those pages are so cheap to generate that they don't need AdSense to justify their existence financially--they'd be making money even if they had to rely on run-of-network banner ads.

Maybe. I daresay you don't know that and neither do I. You suitably chastize people for presenting speculation as fact, and I think you're doing the same thing here.

One thing you don't mention is that those "sites" do have to undergo a review to recieve ads from the major ad agencies, and my experience is that places like burst, casale and fastclick, to name three, have much more careful site reviews than adsense.

Could the junk sites get in? Maybe. Maybe not. And if not, what return do they get on the barrel scraping cpm ads?

It's my opinion that adsense has been a huge factor in encourage people to generate junk sites.

Right now adsense gives junk site owners access to monetizing a huge range of subjects, and the money is clearly superior to low paying cpm ads, or affliate programs.

And some of the junk sites created for that purpose end up in the SERPS.

On the adsense side, the solution is obvious and has always been obvious, except that google refuses to ENFORCE ITS TERMS OF SERVICE. And that applies to both adsense and adwords.

Will it solve the problem of spam? No. But it's an obvious step. Or simply give up -- change the TOS and take everybody, black hat or not. Junk or not.

This half way in the middle of enforcing its own rules is making things worse.

PS. To get a sense of the effects of adsense, one can read the messages on this webmasterworld. How many of the messages either outright display a "don't care about the rules", a "don't know what the rules are", a "how do I beat this rule?", or suggest that there are a whole lot of people with limited ability to create good content, and simply want to hop the gravy train.

So long as google let's them, they obviously have the right to try (at least at their own risk, if any). But it doesn't change the consequences.

europeforvisitors




msg:746007
 8:21 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's my opinion that adsense has been a huge factor in encourage people to generate junk sites.

No one's disputing that. But junk sites existed before AdSense came along, and they'd exist if AdSense disappeared tomorrow. What's more, I'd contend that--at least in the big-money sectors that I watch--there's less junk in Google's SERPs today, even with AdSense and "made-for-AdSense" sites, than there was before AdSense was launched.

The real reason for the "spam arms race" isn't AdSense; it's the strip-mining mentality that motivates so many corporations and Web entrepreneurs.

whitenight




msg:746008
 8:27 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

The real reason for the "spam arms race" isn't AdSense; it's the strip-mining mentality that motivates so many corporations and Web entrepreneurs

And Google, like any good arms dealer, err... company, is simply making profits by "selling" it's product to the largest perpetrators. Nice... -.-

Yes, yes I know. If it wasn't Google, it would be someone else.

Why should anyone take responsibility for solving the problem when they can profit from it, eh?

europeforvisitors




msg:746009
 8:35 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Why should anyone take responsibility for solving the problem when they can profit from it, eh?

But Google is working to solve the problem. It just isn't letting members of Webmaster World dictate how it should do the job. :-)

whitenight




msg:746010
 8:39 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

But Google is working to solve the problem

You're kidding, right?

Like I said, simply ship those toxic wastes to other countries...
Whitenight said,

And I can hear G and it's supporters saying, "Well we do our best to remove "spammy" MFA sites from our index so we are doing our part to control it"

Google has the corporate responsiblity code of <insert any big name oil company here>

I can hear <insert any big name oil company here> saying the same thing,
"We won't let Alaska dictate to us how we should clean up our oil spills. We'll clean them up when we are good and ready"

Make your profits while you can G. Eventually there will be a backlash. There always is.

europeforvisitors




msg:746011
 9:44 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

You're kidding, right?

No, because I took time to read the article that was mentioned at the beginning of this thread.

whitenight




msg:746012
 10:13 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

lol ok EFV, you keep reading G's PR campaign..

Like I and others said in the beginning, G can beat it's head against a wall with their current mindset/philosophy or they can figure out a win-win solution for themselves and the interent community as a whole.

Hmm, which moniker do I like best
"Google - The Internet Biggest Polluters"
or
"Google - Internet's Arms Dealers" :)

steveb




msg:746013
 10:22 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm always puzzled by a lot of the Adsense comments. Adsense is prohibited on (almost all) sites in the three most profitable areas of the Internet, where more reams of junk are produced than anywhere, and where some entire business models are built on a domain gnerating as little as a dollar a day gross revenue.

Adsense has lead to the creation of a lot of useless garbage, but there is relatively not much money in it so one should suspect that overall it is a minority contribtor to the doodoo online.

This 78 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 78 ( 1 [2] 3 > >
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