The “Quick Excerpt” Splog and Why You Shouldn’t Worry

Hey! That Looks Like ME!

Maybe you’ve seen this kind of trackback show up on your blog comments or in your Akismet filter:

[Your Blog’s Name] [verb] an [adjective] post today on [link to your blog article]. Here’s a quick excerpt:

If you go to the blog in question you’ll find an excerpt from your article that’s about 350 characters long in the post and you’ll probably also find Adsense ads and perhaps an affiliate offer or two on the page. It looks like a normal blog for the most part except that it is obviously generated by a scraping process, not an actual person.

Many people get annoyed by this. I’ve seen several posts recently decrying this kind of automated blog. They want to report them to somebody, anybody. However, this kind of scraping is actually beneficial to your blog. Here’s why.

1. It Validates Your SEO and Keyword Targeting Efforts

Getting noticed is always tough for a new blog, but, with a little basic SEO work you can indexed and splogged within a day of starting activity. Here’s an early post on OpTempo where I described this: One Day Old and Already Scraped and Spammed.

If splog software is noticing you this means that you’re indexed in Google and your feeds are pinging well. Your site is getting noticed and splogging lets you know this.

If you continue to get splogged, that means your posts are hitting popular, well paying, keywords. Once again, this helps validate your own keyword targeting efforts.

2. It’s a Free One Way Backlink

Google, Technorati, and others work off of backlinks. More backlinks means higher Google PageRank and higher Technorati authority for your blog in the long run. Excerpt splogging helps you gain backlinks and thus they improve your ranking as a result. The more splogs following your blog the better off you’ll be.

3. Dupe Content is No Problem

Many fear that being splogged like this will trigger a Google duplicate content penalty. However, this is highly unlikely since the excerpt is generally only about 350 characters (much like the Blogging Zoom excerpt, BTW) and blockquoted. The Googlebot is smart enough to tell that this is simply a quote from another site and not original content. In fact, since you’re being quoted, this may even increase your ranking as an authority site in Google’s algorithm according to some “Why Wikipeida ranks high” theories I’ve heard.

4. There’s Not A Lot You Can Do Anyway

This kind of quoting is allowed under US and most other countries copyright laws. Short excerpts of an original work are allowed as fair use. This means that copyright complaints will fall on deaf ears.

Will Google suspend Adsense accounts for such blogs or de-index them? Maybe, maybe not. They certainly don’t suspend those who use article farms for content, although they may get a dupe content penalty. Also since these splogs are within copyright law they’re unwilling to do anything on that front, since that could, in turn, affect manually edited blogs that quote news articles or other bloggers.

About all you can do is mark the trackbacks as spam in Akismet. This is probably the most effective response you can have.

What are your thoughts on “quick excerpt” splogs? Leave me a comment and let me know.

 


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14 Comments »

2007-11-12 13:59:16

I agree with you. As long as there is a correct link to the author and it is an exerpt, you might as well be thankful for the link.

Comment by jfc
2007-11-12 14:53:38

Hi James

One backlink building trick is to create posts with a popular keyword, like iPhone for example. The splog engines are usually looking for these keywords and snap up your posts when they get pinged.

 
 
Comment by Jason A Clark
2007-11-12 14:09:02

I’ve had this happen to me on many occasions. I’ve never noticed any traffic from it but I can’t tell that it’s ever hurt anything either. I don’t think it’s a huge problem as long as they aren’t just ripping off entire articles or anything.

Comment by jfc
2007-11-12 15:00:24

Hi Jason,

You probably won’t see much traffic from one, maybe a couple of hits a month if that. The way these sites make money is having 1000’s of posts that get search engine traffic. They maybe earn about $10-30 a month in Adsense and other ads. Doesn’t sound like much until it’s multiplied out a few hundred times.

 
 
Comment by david
2007-11-12 17:55:53

I also agree. It is beneficial to you and the splogger I guess if they provide a link back to your original article.

Comment by jfc
2007-11-12 20:08:23

Hi David,

It’s really a win/win situation since it gives you free backlinks and the splogger can create legit, if mostly useless, content. It’s certainly a lot better than an out and out content thief.

 
 
Comment by Desty
2007-11-13 13:40:08

I get hit from these sites about 4-6 times per day. I’ve never seen any traffic from any of them. Most, while leaving trackbacks, don’t leave backlinks that Technorati can detect.

Comment by jfc
2007-11-13 14:15:32

Hi Desty,

I think Technorati weeds them out to some extent although some who I’ve gotten spam trackbacks from are still listed. I would guess they eliminate ones that are obvious vs. the more clever ones.

The kind that’s likely to get banned are those that show up one day with 1000’s posts all saying “Here’s a Quick Excerpt”. Ones that vary the intro and closing text and build gradually, about 20 or so posts a day, seem to stick around.

 
 
Comment by Forrest
2007-11-13 14:38:06

I have to disagree with your point #2; most of the splogs that have been attacking me like this ( and it’s been a lot lately ) don’t wind up being indexed. I’ve been putting a link back to one of my earlier posts in the beginning of new posts, to force scrapers to give me a link while they pilfer my content … but the next day when several of them show up in my Akismet filter, I go check and they’re never indexed by Google. As annoyed as I am, I almost wish GoogleBot would go crawl them and see the links pointing back at me.

But I liked reading your first point, that it validates your publicity efforts to see the sploggers jump on your coat tails…

Comment by jfc
2007-11-13 16:03:22

Thanks for your input Forrest,

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you view it, most sploggers are amateurs who’ve bought a “get rich quick” eBook and aren’t all that creative or savvy about what they’re doing.

Indexing of deep blog links is tricky, particularly for a splog that may get banned for being too aggressive. You can separate the amateur sploggers from the pros on how well they do this. If you want to get deep into this topic, see this post on Blue Hat SEO: 100’s Of Links/Hour Automated - Introduction To Black Hole SEO. It’s complex, but an interesting, read.

 
 
Comment by Jenny Lens
2007-11-13 14:57:05

Although I’ve had websites for over a dozen years, I am now just migrating to Wordpress. Immediately I’ve been splogged/scraped, but at least they are not replicating the whole page! That would be awful!

Thoughts to share:
1–They don’t use MY name. They write “so and so wrote an interesting blog about this topic” and then they quote a few lines from my blog, with a link back to my blog.

2–I haven’t seen any increase in meaningful traffic due to it. People search for me because they love early punk rock photos. They usually write to me, just to say hi or buy/license my photos. Most everyone either finds me via Google or looks up my name under photos on books. So if this is helping traffic I want/need, I haven’t seen it yet.

3–That’s my concern, that if they find these sites first, will they be turned off and leave? I deliberately posted my classic rock shots on the top of every page, cos I know peeps will leave if they don’t see pix. They have to scroll down amongst all kinds of posts to find me on these sites. I think/hope most are determined enough to find me to go back to Google, scroll down til they find my domain with my name. Or they might bypass these sites and scroll serps til they find my official site.

4–Their contact info is never active, if they even have contact info. If they have a form like this, it always bounces back.

5–If Askimet doesn’t catch them, I add them to AntiLeech using either their IP or sometimes that’s hidden, so I add their website url.

This is a puzzling issue to me, plus the downside is I just don’t have time to deal with it. I don’t have enough time to recode my pages from pure html to Wordpress!

PS I found you via bloggingzoom.com and I’m glad I did!

Comment by jfc
2007-11-13 16:17:35

Hi Jenny,

I like your site. I’m going to have to dig into it further when I have a little more time. I’m a big fan of early punk, particularly Johnny Thunders and Tom Verlaine.

So far as traffic goes these sites, at best, provide indirect traffic by giving your site more authority in Google’s eyes and thus increasing your placement in search results and your PageRank. The trick is how quickly the splog gets indexed as Forrest pointed out. Most won’t ever place well in search themselves though.

 
 
Comment by Dawn Pedersen
2007-11-20 22:09:33

I guess the only real annoyance is that when I want to see who is genuinely linking to me (the Incoming Links section of WordPress’s Dashboard), I need to cull out all the splog crap. On the ten latest incoming links listed this moment, five are splogs. Yeah, they increase my Technorati authority, but doesn’t that make Technorati authority a bit of a sham?

Comment by jfc
2007-11-21 01:03:44

Hi Dawn,

Most measurements of web site performance are a sham in some way. Ultimately, non-reciprocal links back to your site improve your ranking in most cases, even if they’re from auto-generated blogs that don’t copy your full content.

 
 
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