Blog Spam: Scourge of a Small Social Network

  • Since relaunching The Market List as a niche social network, we have seen some significant positive results.


    Perhaps the most positive is that our list of market and agents has grown significantly due to to better content management tools. Our original site was all custom coded and lacked many of the more useful data entry and editing tools common to most current content management system. More time is being spent adding and updating markets instead of coding and recoding the site.


    The most negative result is the sudden surge in blog and profile spam.


    Profile spam involves he creation of profiles that include a link to a targeted landing page to help the search engine optimization of that page.  The fake profiles are very easy to spot on our end. Most select profile titles like "AXDTFF" and if they bother to enter any personal info it all seems to be copy and pasted "There is nothing to say about myself at all. I hope I be useful to Marketlist." or "Got nothing to say about myself really. Enjoying to be a part of this community. I really wish I'm useful at all"


    The names used are almost always a mix of two first names, and the names don't match the email address required to sign up.


    The blog spam is more annoying because it was showing up on our main index page in the event feed.


    We've taken several steps to help eliminate this problem.


    At first, we were deleting the profiles and blocking the IP address from future access to the site.


    This proved to be only a temporary stop-gap, as the spammers were coming from a variety of IP ranges. We now block the entire IP range if it's from a foreign country ( IP addresses in China were the most significant source of spam ), or if it's from a block of IPs assigned to a business in the US. 


    We also temporarily emoved the blog feed from our main index page to hopefully make it less attractive to spammers. Even though Google, Yahoo and Bing spider The Market List frequently for content changes, the main index page is usually checked and updated most often, giving spammers a better chance of having their blog and profile spam indexed and the link counted toward their SEO efforts.


    ( The latest SEO news that we follow advises that Google may actually be penalizing sites in the search results if they have too many incoming links from profiles. I'm fairly confident that they know "30 Year Refi", "Cyber Monday Shopping" and random porn sites aren't really of relevance to our site theme. )


    Finally, we are now actively trying to find the company contracting the spammers to post on the site. The posts are far to consistent to be a coincidence. While we're sure they won't stop simply out of the goodness of their hearts, the economic reality is that they are paying for SEO link building that will not provide any result.


    Hopefully appealing to their wallet instead of their hearts will make the problem more manageable.