Comment Spam and Google - Yesterday, today and tomorrow

Published in General on Tuesday, May 11th, 2004

Comment spam, from need to opportunity to preventive measures.


This little theory popped into my head after writing up an SEO strategy presentation I'll be giving to one of our clients this week. It is not heavily researched, but I think it is somewhat accurate. Keep in mind it's just an idea, and I'm not going into too much detail with this, and I may have missed a fact here or there.

The past

A while back it was the norm that new sites took six to eight-plus weeks to be fully spidered and happily settled in Google. Sure, it helped to have incoming links, and lots of them, but a good spidering of 100's of pages took time for new sites on new domains. As a result, a certain type of web developer would often look to buy recently expired domains in order to get indexed more quickly. The higher the pagerank, the better, but not really necessary.

The not-so-distant-past

Around July of last year, Google unleashed a 'new' version of it's spider, letting the spider known as freshbot retire. The new spider crawled deep, grabbed fresh pages and, miracle of miracles, sites were being indexed in less than two weeks (we had two client sites of roughly 1300 pages get spidered and indexed completely in a matter of 8 days sometime in late July, 2003).

Wow. Now, sites on new domains could get indexed quickly.

As a result, a certain type of web developer realized that there was an opportunity here: sites can get into the index quickly, and with a high enough PageRank be spidered often. More iterations meant easier optimizing (and worked great for the throw away domain strategy). All that was necessary were incoming links (also known as backlinks).

But how to get a bunch of links quickly from sites with decent PR?

Hello Comment Spam

Welcome to the age of comment spam. Depending on your degree of cunning, you could get 50-100-1000's of links in anywhere from a minute to a day. Good for them, crappy for bloggers and Google.

Striking back - New Site Sandbox, deleted PageRank and redirects

Well, Google seems to have found a bit of a solution, and it's called the sandbox effect. Basically, new sites get spidered as before, but after a few days of decent results in the Google Serps (Search Engine Result Pages), the site gets canned. It seems that the 'effect' can last up to two months (check the link above for more details).

In addition to the sandbox, there have been reports that expired domains are having their pagerank stripped.

The fallout from this should be that comment spamming doesn't have as direct a result as it used to.

There is a door here though, comment spamming may get you spidered more quickly and give you decent anchor text, however this too is being combatted, as there are preventative measures supported by Google that close this door.

Could this be the end, then?

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