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Old 08-20-2004   #1
I, Brian
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Post When are pages "spam"?

I love the issue of ethics, in general, as a dicussion point. And as I'm in this business, SEO ethics is a discussion I really enjoy.

A topic I'd like to *focus* on here, though, is as to *when* web pages can be regarded as "spam" - also, whether there are degrees of "spam"?

Are pages filled with affiliate links spam? After all, they can exist simply to promote traffic to other sites, with no interest in providing original content.

How about blogs? Some are great - O 'Reilly has a bundle on their network, and CNet lists to some very distinguished ones. So how come the ones I always seem to come across in Google are so pitiful content-free self-indulgent clap-trap? Are they spam?

Now the crunch - one aspect of SEO/SEM involves the creation of additional sites and pages solely from which to promote clients from. It's part of the general links building armoury.

When is this spam?

Is it spam if the pages contain content that is useful for humans, as well as search engines?

Is it spam if it only ranks high in the SERPs?

At what point does creating pages primarily for search engines *fairly* enter into accusations of said pages being "spam"?
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Old 08-20-2004   #2
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I'm personally tired of these types of posts so I'll just link to a definition of spam.

http://www.cybernothing.org/faqs/net-abuse-faq.html#2.1
Quote:
It's a luncheon meat, kinda pink, comes in a can, made by Hormel. Most Americans intuitively, viscerally associate "Spam" with "no nutritive or aesthetic value," though it is still relatively popular (especially in Hawaii) and can be found in almost any grocery store.) The canned luncheon meat has its own newsgroup, alt.spam.
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Old 08-20-2004   #3
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My opinion - there is high risk SEO, medium risk SEO and low risk SEO. Choose your level of comfort and rock on.

Last edited by chrisnrae : 08-20-2004 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 08-20-2004   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I, Brian
How about blogs? Some are great - O 'Reilly has a bundle on their network, and CNet lists to some very distinguished ones.
O'Reilly really focuses on quality information for their users, so their use of blogs is smart and a worthwhile effort for their visitors. If you have something to say and it is quality information, then it makes sense to add content pages.
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Old 08-20-2004   #5
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My opinion - there is high risk SEO, medium risk SEO and low risk SEO. Choose your level of comfort and rock on.
That needs repeating.

It's all bollocks, if you cant see that it is, well, you go your way.....


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Old 08-20-2004   #6
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"Some are great - O 'Reilly has a bundle on their network, and CNet lists to some very distinguished ones. So how come the ones I always seem to come across in Google are so pitiful content-free self-indulgent clap-trap?"

"If you have something to say and it is quality information"

"Quality" information as a description of content is in the eye of the beholder. I know quite a few bloggers who write what some would consider "useless entry after useless entry" because it isn't about a technical topic, politics of the current news events of the day.

Yet, these bloggers have *huge* followings and lots of traffic. What they write certainly wouldn't be considered "useful" to the O Reilly crowd, but its obvious from their traffic and comments that it certainly interests some people.

The blogging community has it's own dynamic, and it's own standards. Sure, there are useless blogs - you can tell by their lack of traffic and comments - but there are also blogs delivering "drivel" with a huge audience that loves to hear it.

Sorry, went a bit off topic there .
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Old 08-20-2004   #7
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Point being, O'Reilly blogs have coherent quality subject-rich content, aimed at very specifically at human user - not spam in anyone's books.

Yet if I put up low-ranking content-rich pages, specifically for search engines to pick up the links from them (no cloaking, redirects, doorways, or anything specifically Blackhat, etc, etc) -> then somebody somewhere will cry "spam!" because of the intention of getting SEM benefits from pages designed for SEM benefits - even if the content is actually useful for human users!

And yet those same spam-criers will then argue that the topic-free pubescent drivellous monotonous blog-fest angst I've had the misfortune to encounter via searches on Google - is legitimate "content" - because it was written, duplicated via dynamic page and static HTML archive, and link bombed into irrelevant subject areas by a group of equally snivelling adolescents... ...but all without search engines in mind... ...so that lack of intention makes it all okay non-spam!



What I'm trying to focus a discussion on is whether "intention" versus "content" is a valid argument to make, and the reasoning for the decision.
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Old 08-20-2004   #8
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Truth is, one man's spam can be another man's resource site. Remember SNAP? Back then I wrote a large-ish site to, ummm, 'fill in the blanks' at the local level --to me, it was a traffic dredge, plain & simple. Damn was a big hit with JohnQ, has plenty of free, non-reciprocal backlinks now.
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Old 08-20-2004   #9
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"What I'm trying to focus a discussion on is whether "intention" versus "content" is a valid argument to make, and the reasoning for the decision."

I don't think it matters. Again, you can go high risk, medium risk or low risk - whatever you can sleep with at night. There is no way to know a person's true intention - only what they claim it to be. Google, nor any other SE is going to personally investigate every site to try a decipher it's intention, so the whole "argument" of content vs. intention seems pointless to have, because intention will never be used as a factor by the mega SE's to "flag" spam. Course, unless you simply like heated discussion .
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Old 08-20-2004   #10
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OK, let's give it a shot with an example . . .

Here is something I came across today. So you guys be the judge. Is this SPAM or not?

I searched in Google for "aldo luongo", which is an artist of a fine limited collection of art.

The very first natural listing is: http://www.lahainagalleries.com/aldo_luongo_m.html. Wait, was that the right destination page, oh NO, there is a redirect (see code for "onMouseOver="location.href") that takes you to the homepage.

For those of you who where not able to catch the "_____ page" (whatever you want to call it - again up to you). Here is a copy of it in one of my servers. I removed the redirect so that you can spend as much time on it as you want.

Want to analyze the code, well here it is:
Code:
<html><head>
<title>Aldo Luongo Sources at Lahainagalleries.com</title>
<meta NAME="keywords" content="Aldo Luongo, home painting ideas, civil war paintings, 19th century fine art david cox, black art painting on e-bay, sites with fine art paintings">
<meta NAME="description" content="Aldo Luongo sources. ">
<meta name="revisit-after" content="7 days">
<meta name="robots" content="all=index,follow">
<meta name= "resource-type" content="document">
<meta http-equiv="pragma" content="no-cache">
<meta name="distribution" content= "Global">
<meta name="language" content="English">
<meta name="doc-rights" content="Copy Written Work">
<meta name="robots" content="all">
</head><body a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/" onMouseOver="location.href = 'http://www.lahainagalleries.com/';" bgcolor="#ffffff" text="#000000" link="#000000" vlink="#000000"><p align="center"><a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/" >
<img src="clickhere.gif" border="0"   Alt="aldo luongo - click here to enter, civil war paintings, black art painting on e-bay, 19th century fine art david cox, home painting ideas, sites with fine art paintings" ></a>

<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvietica, sans-serif"><font size="3"><br>
<br>
<h1 align="center">Aldo Luongo at Lahainagalleries.com</h1>
<br>
<p align="left">Aldo luongo information presented at Lahainagalleries.com. Aldo luongo sources by clicking above.  Find <a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/aldo_luongo_n.html">aldo luongo</a> on Lahainagalleries.com. all kinds of artwork and paintings found online at lahaina galleries. Gary Swanson artist and other work found on lahaina galleries.visit us today. looking for art in hawaii? visit us online today or give us a call. Many artist such as Naoko, Darrell Hill, Otsuka. Are all artist with work found on lahaina galleries. Related terms are <a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/aldo_luongo_m.html">sites with fine art paintings</a>, <a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/aldo_luongo_n.html">home painting ideas</a>, <a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/aldo_luongo_o.html">civil war paintings</a>, <a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/aldo_luongo_p.html">19th century fine art david cox</a>, and <a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/aldo_luongo_q.html">black art painting on e-bay</a>.   looking for original artwork done by the best original artists? Visit us today. visit us today for the best original artwork today! or give us a call. still on display at Lahaina Galleries. Ironically, Killett even wound up doing business with Hawaii Five-O’s leading man, Jack Lord. official artist for Perrier Jouet champagne; Dario Campanile, who applies the luminous technique of a Salvador Dali. Hong Leung, Aldo Luongo, Naoko, Darrell Hill, Otsuka. Are all artist with work found on lahaina galleries. Aldo luongo  sources at Lahainagalleries.com. Frederick Hart, the Vietnam Memorial’s three G.I.’s, the “Creation” panels of the National Cathedral, and the incredible pioneering acrylic sculptures.<br>
</p>
</font><font size="3" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvietica, sans-serif">Guy Buffet, Dario Campanile, Lau Chun, John Cosby, Gregory Deane, Yankel Ginzburg, Frederick Hart. Aldo luongo related phrases are on Lahainagalleries.com. Hawaii's largest art gallery and most well known galleries in America. The Killetts cultivated a roster of technically dazzling, accomplished artists, including Guy Buffet, whose slyly irresistible portraits of waiters. Related terms include 19th century fine art david cox, civil war paintings, black art painting on e-bay, home painting ideas, and sites with fine art paintings. paintings, art work by original artist found online at lahaina galleries today. looking for great art for your house visit lahaina galleries today and browse around. accomplished artists, including Guy Buffet, whose slyly irresistible portraits of waiters. Look for aldo luongo on Lahainagalleries.com. The Killetts cultivated a roster of technically dazzling, accomplished artists, including Guy Buffet, whose slyly irresistible portraits of waiters. Hawaii's largest art gallery and most well known galleries in America. Terms that are related are home painting ideas, sites with fine art paintings, black art painting on e-bay, civil war paintings, and 19th century fine art david cox. looking for art in hawaii? visit us online today or give us a call.
<br><p><a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/aldo_luongo_n.html">Aldo luongo</a> is related to Lahainagalleries.com. Frederick Hart, the Vietnam Memorial’s three G.I.’s, the “Creation” panels of the National Cathedral, and the incredible pioneering acrylic sculptures. Hong Leung, Aldo Luongo, Naoko, Darrell Hill, Otsuka. Are all artist with work found on lahaina galleries.  Many artist such as Naoko, Darrell Hill, Otsuka. Are all artist with work found on lahaina galleries. still on display at Lahaina Galleries. Ironically, Killett even wound up doing business with Hawaii Five-O’s leading man, Jack Lord. Other related phrases are black art painting on e-bay, civil war paintings, 19th century fine art david cox, home painting ideas, and sites with fine art paintings. looking for original artwork done by the best original artists? Visit us today. looking for great art for your house visit lahaina galleries today and browse around. paintings, art work by original artist found online at lahaina galleries today. official artist for Perrier Jouet champagne; Dario Campanile, who applies the luminous technique of a Salvador Dali. 
</font><font size="3"></p>
<center>
  <a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/">Homepage</a> <a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/john_cosby_q.html">Products</a> 
  <a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/frederick_hart_q.html">Services</a> <a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/frederick_hart_n.html">Help</a> 
  <a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/aldo_luongo_o.html">About Us</a> <a href="http://www.lahainagalleries.com/lahainagalleries.com_SiteMap.html">Site 
  Map</a> 
</center>
</font> 
<!-- Aldo Luongo, black art painting on e-bay, civil war paintings, sites with fine art paintings, 
  19th century fine art david cox, and home painting ideas on Lahainagalleries.com.   -->
</font> 
</body></html>
Now, let's analize the backlinks to this page. Wow, there is ONLY 1: http://www.laramoremagic.com/laramor...m_friends.html

I don't know about you, but IMO this page does not look useful to ANY user. However, the question remains: Is this SPAM?

Let's go back to the beginning. When we did the search for "aldo luongo" the first result with lahainagalleries.com actually does take us to one text link and with one image link to http://www.aldoluongo.com/ , which is the actual and offical artist's homepage. So why did lahainagalleries.com go through all the trouble to get traffic for "Aldo Luongo" if it doesn't sell any of its art? Short answer, to convert that traffic into buyers of art for other artist that lahainagalleries.com does carry.

Now, we have the big picture, now we can ask: IS THIS SPAM?

You call the shots.

Last edited by Nacho : 08-21-2004 at 12:18 AM. Reason: Added for clarification
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Old 08-21-2004   #11
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Question of spam aside, as a general rule any page that makes me want to claw out by eyes when I attempt to read it (like that one - my head hurts) should probably not be presented to me as a "good" result by a search engine, and I personally would consider it to be spam based on that...

However, the fact that maybe I personally don't like something should not automatically mean something is spam. It might be spam to me, but it might be your lifes work (pathetic as it is) to you.

One issue with spam is that its usual online meaning is "unsolicited, bulk, commercial email" And it has to be ALL three to fit. It can legally be commercial and unsolicited (ie a link request or request for services), or bulk and commercial (ie a newsletter) and still be fine.

For reasons known only to the originators, spam later got connected to some websites, possibly because the usual reaction to a list in Google that looks like a list in an inbox before filtering reminded them of it...

I really like the definition of spam being "Sites Positioned Above Mine" from a humor standpoint, but unfortunately that's not helpful.

The problem with "spam" is that it's very much a judgement call. I think it is possible to be "spammy" without being spam.

For example, a webmaster with a top ranked site who stuffs metatags and comment tags is obviously spammy, but since the engines ranked the site where it is while ignoring the comments and metatags, is it spam? It's there naturally IN SPITE of the stuffing.

So in this case the page is spam but relevant? Is a technique only spam when it's influential?

That might be it - unless it works, it's not spam - just stupid web tricks....

In that case, maybe like email spam, in order for something to be search engine spam it has to not only fit ONE category, but more than one AT THE SAME TIME to truly qualify as spam.

Anyone have ideas on what the criteria would be.

I think most people would consider deceptive to be one of them. When I do a search on (to use an actual example that happened to me in the old days) "disney kids games" and get back 3 pages of porn sites on Alta Vista I would consider those results to be spam, and the webmasters who deliberately attempted to show up for that result to be spammers (and morons - did they think I'd be interested? I doubt there was much of a conversion rate)

Issues with this are that many sites today that people may consider "spam" are actually on-target. They are about the topic searched for. So deception isn't all of it. Or at least has to be defined better.

Also, I think that it should be effective. If you do something with the intent to trick me but it doesn't work, then you are an idiot, but NOT a trickster, I would think.

So it has to be deceptive and effective. Anything else?

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Old 08-21-2004   #12
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Post

My friend Alan Perkins defines it as follows:

Search Engine Spam
Any attempt to deceive a search engine's relevancy algorithm




[From "The Classification of Spam]

Last edited by Jill Whalen : 08-21-2004 at 02:53 AM.
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Old 08-21-2004   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jill Whalen
My friend Alan Perkins defines it as follows:

Search Engine Spam
Any attempt to deceive a search engine's relevancy algorithm

[From "The Classification of Spam]
That's the problem, though - gauging intention.

After all, the administrators of highrankings - and that includes Alan Perkins - all have an unobtrusive links to their commerce sites at the foot of every page on that forum.

There are obvious SEO benefits to doing so - in fact, Alan's article above even seems to label it "Link Content Spam":

Quote:
When a link exists on a page A to page B only to affect the ... authority component of page B
Of course, the contention is one of "intention".

Would Alan therefore be happy to use an external JavaScript file to ensure the highrankings footer links are delivered as effectively invisible to Google and other search engines? That would certainly prove that the placement of those links has everything to do with human users only, and nothing to do with search engines - but I somehow doubt that will happen.

Namely because every SEO at some point has to take search engines into account when it comes to constructing site pages - whether body copy or link strategy in itself.

Search Engines themselves would probably call that an intention to "spam". SEM's would possibly call it "improving accessibility".
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Old 08-21-2004   #14
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Post Low, Medium, High Risk SEO tactics

Nacho,

What you appear to have listed is a "doorway page" - which isn't really a "grey area" on the issue of "intention".
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Old 08-21-2004   #15
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Quote:
Search Engine Spam
Any attempt to deceive a search engine's relevancy algorithm
This is the problem with self appointed "authority", it can backfire.

Under that definition, almost all SEO can be classified as spam. At the very least, alll SEO is highly questionable.

Take highrankings.com for example. Is it spam? Sure it is, under that definition. It could be argued that the domain name was chosen to encourage people to use the anchor text "high rankings".....

Note: I dont think that's spammy, I think it makes perfect sense, the point isnt to accuse, but rather point out that definitions like that are far to open to interpretation.

Its all a matter of perspective, and perceived intent.

Nick

Last edited by Nick W : 08-21-2004 at 06:26 AM.
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Old 08-21-2004   #16
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Spam is in the eye of the beholder.
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Old 08-21-2004   #17
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> When a link exists on a page A to page B only to affect the ... authority component of page B

Would that also cover the link Mr Perkins recently added at the foot of his "spam white paper"?
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Old 08-21-2004   #18
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Originally Posted by I, Brian
Would Alan therefore be happy to use an external JavaScript file to ensure the highrankings footer links are delivered as effectively invisible to Google and other search engines? That would certainly prove that the placement of those links has everything to do with human users only, and nothing to do with search engines - but I somehow doubt that will happen.
Of course he would be happy to do so, but why should he (or we since he actually had nothing to do with that link) since it's not there to deceive nor to gain link popularity. We don't use javascript links on our site -- you're saying we should start to so that people like you stop accusing us of spamming? I think not. Accuse all you want.

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Old 08-21-2004   #19
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Regarding the name high rankings -- if my intention was to get people to use the phrase high rankings so that I could rank highly for that it, then I would be a complete idiot since "high rankings" as a keyword phrase is not a good one at all. (I know many of you think I AM a complete idiot, but c'mon, I'm not THAT dumb )

It's a useless phrase other than for the branding that I have created over the years with it.

I don't remember ever actually buying a domain name for keyword purposes. (Although I have had clients that have come to me already having keyword-rich domains.) Not that I think there's anything wrong with it, I just don't do it, nor do I recommend it to my clients. There are too many more important reasons to name a domain a certain way (nothing to do with SEO), and keywords is way way way down on my particular list of them.

But aside from all that, no, I don't believe it's spam either.

BTW, I only pulled that one definition out of Alan's paper regarding spam because this thread was asking for definitions. He does address the other issues you guys bring up, and very well, I might add. Have a quick read some time! I'm not about to try to go into the details and defend his paper, because I could never do it justice, and it's probably been done in millions of forums across the world before. (Alan's on vacation for a few weeks...erm I mean "holiday" so you won't be seeing him here either.)

I'm pretty much going to leave it at this because I don't want to get into this debate -- again! (I'm getting to old, I think. )

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Old 08-21-2004   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jill Whalen
Of course he would be happy to do so, but why should he (or we since he actually had nothing to do with that link) since it's not there to deceive nor to gain link popularity. We don't use javascript links on our site -- you're saying we should start to so that people like you stop accusing us of spamming? I think not. Accuse all you want.

Jill
Jill,

No one is accusing anyone of spamming - except, apparently, Alan Perkins. Who, by his own definitions, could arguably be construed as falling upon his own sword.

You recommended someone as an authority as what is "spam" and what is not - my point was merely that the issue is not so clear cut - that was the intention of opening a discussion on this "grey" area of SEO.
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