March 29, 2017

What is Spamming? Hint: It Involves More Than Just Email


What is Spamming? Hint: It's More Than Just Email...

Mention spam and the first thought in your head might be of those unwanted emails promising easy money and get rich quick schemes that cram your inbox. But what you might not know is that another kind of spamming can have detrimental effects to your small business’s online presence too. That’s even if you never press the send button for an email titled “Make $1000 an hour just for filling out reports.”

Case in point is the recent failed suit against Google filed because websites belonging to online marketing firm e-ventures Worldwide were delisted by the search engine giant for search engine spamming.

What is Spamming?

In layman’s terms, spamming can be defined as the flooding of the Internet with unsolicited or misguiding messages. Mostly, spam is used for commercial advertising, often for get-rich-quick schemes or for selling dubious products. But not always.

In the end the term describes the aggressive means to promote the product rather than the product itself. So don’t make the mistake of believing that just because the product you are marketing is legitimate you couldn’t be guilty of spamming.

The most common form of spamming is email spamming, true. But the one likely to damage your business’s online presence the most is search engine spamming.

Search engine spamming is the deliberate and dishonest practice of modifying HTML pages to increase the chance of having them placed among the top search engine results.

Generally, most search engine spammers are aware that the content they are promoting is not relevant or useful to internet users. Or at least they are aware the means they are using to get it to the top of the search engine rankings is deceptive.

What Are the Common Search Engine Spamming Techniques?

Keyword Stuffing

This is the repeated use of a word to increase its frequency on a page. Older versions of indexing programs simply counted the number of times a keyword appeared on text and they would use that to determine the relevance level. However, things have changed as modern search engines have the ability to tell if a keyword is above its “normal” use.

Meta Tag Stuffing

This includes using keywords that are not related to the website content as well as repeating some more than once.

Mirror Websites

This is the hosting of multiple websites with different URL’s but the same or very similar content.

Hidden Links

This involves hiding links where visitors can’t see them so as to increase link popularity.

Page Redirects

This refers to the practice of taking the user to another page without their intervention using either CGI scripts, Java, JavaScript, META refresh tags or Server side redirects.

Gateway or Doorway Pages

These are low-quality web-pages that are stuffed with keywords and phrases but very little content. A doorway page will generally have “click here to enter” in the middle of the text.

Cloaking

This is the technique of sending a different version of  a webpage to the search engine from the one your visitors see.

Link Spamming

This type of spamming mostly takes advantage of Google’s PageRank algorithm. The algorithm gives a higher rank to a website that has more websites linking to it. So a spammer might create multiple websites with different URLs that link to one another.

Code Swapping

This involves optimizing a page for top ranking, then swapping another page in its place once a top ranking is achieved.

What Are the other Types of Spamming?

Email Spamming

This is the practice of sending unsolicited email messages to an indiscriminate set of recipients. It is among the earliest forms of online spamming and it is estimated that email spam currently makes up 80 to 85 percent of all emails in the world. While this vice is illegal in some jurisdictions, it is far less regulated in others.

Social Network Spamming

Social sites such as Twitter and Facebook are not immune to spam messages either. There have been numerous cases of account hacks and sending of false requests and links under the guise of the account holder’s details.

Mobile Phone Spamming

This form of spamming is directed at the text messaging service of a mobile phone and it is quite irritating and may in some markets cause the user to be charged for every text message received.

While spamming, especially search engine spamming, might make sense to some shrewd advertisers, it is important to note that the effects can be dire and at times even lead to jail time as in the case of “spam king” Stanford Wallace.

So for your sake and that of your business’ run away from temptations to market even legitimate products or your web presence by deceptive means. You may damage your online reputation irreparably — or worse.

Spam Photo via Shutterstock

2 Comments ▼
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Antony Maina


Antony Maina Antony Maina is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. His beat includes social media, general business reporting and exploring how people relate to technology. With a background in freelance writing, he is a contributor to other tech websites and can be found at Word4Bloggers.

2 Reactions

  1. So. Much. Spam.

    I applaud all the efforts to keep it under control (just look in your Gmail spam folder).

  2. Aira Bongco

    I used to think that spamming is about ‘gaming’ the system. It is about doing something repetitively to the annoyance of other people.

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