Saturday, February 04, 2012

How To Avoid Getting Your Blog Locked, As A Suspected Spam Host

This is a question that some blog owners ask in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.

This will generally be after they have just been through the Blogger spam review process. Some of those asking the question are spammers, blatantly asking what they can get away with. Others are regular blog owners, unwittingly hit by "friendly fire", as Blogger just tries to keep the level of spam down, in the Blogosphere.

One of the challenges involves identifying the genuine cries for help - and ignoring the hackers and spammers, who are trying to make trouble for everybody.

The simplest answer, to the obvious question, would be the best for everybody - if only everybody would follow.
Don't spam.
Spammers can't follow that advice, as it would doom them to a lifetime of asking
Do you want fries with your burger?
or
Do you want whipped cream on your "large" coffee?
We know, already, that Blogger cannot whitelist your blog - but there are some common sense ways to reduce the risk of spam classification.

There are several ways that your blog may look like a spam blog. Many blogs, such as those reported in the forums, will have one of these problems.
  1. Use spammy content or techniques.
  2. Have little to no content - look like a latent spam blog ("Empty").
  3. Have content, that's been scraped into a spam blog - look like an activated spam blog ("Reserve" or "Active").

There are ways to avoid the above possibilities.
  1. Don't use spammy content or techniques.
  2. Publish content (relevant to the subject of the blog), regularly. Don't look like an Empty spam blog.
  3. Publish unique content (relevant to the subject of the blog), regularly. Provide unique material, that has not yet been scraped. Don't look like a Reserve or Active spam blog.

The Blogger fuzzy spam classification process looks for various artifacts, in your blog.
  1. Content that discusses or promotes spammy techniques - or content or traffic obtained using spammy techniques.
  2. Malicious or spammy accessories.
  3. Links to other, known malicious or spammy blogs or web sites.

Instead of the simple advice "Don't spam", I'll expand upon that a bit.
  1. Avoid spammy practices.
  2. Publish, and Publicise, properly. Don't advertise, recklessly.
  3. Accept reality.
The reality is that spam will always be with us - since spammers want more of a future than selling burgers or coffee.

You can't control the spammers - your blog, if it is publicly accessible, is subject to scraping by any spammer, at any time. Considering that reality, the best advice is that you Publish, regularly - and make your content relevant and unique.

The more unique and properly targeted material that a blog contains, that's not been scraped or syndicated, the less that it will look like a spam blog. And the less that a blog looks like a spam blog, the less chance that blog has of being spuriously classified as a spam blog.

Having read this, you now need to get back to work on your blog. If your blog becomes deleted or locked, as a suspected malware / porn / spam host, get the blog reviewed.

If the blog gets reviewed, but cannot be restored, you may be allowed to start over - but you will be expected to clean up your act.

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2 comments:

D.B. Echo said...

I have a "life" blog called "Another Monkey" in which I have never, as far as I know, posted anything about monkeys. Instead I post about everything under the sun - gardening, astronomy, computer issues, things going on in my life, anything really. A few years ago I decided to "monetize" my blog by adding Google Ads. As you could guess, my wide variety of topics utterly confused the ad-selection algorithms, which frequently resulted in random and rarely-relevant ads.

SO, I decided to deal with this issue by producing "spinoff" blogs focusing on various topics - gardening, astronomy, computer issues - reposting content from Another Monkey to produce more focused single-topic blogs that would, in theory, get more focused ads. Truth be told, I lost interest in most of these spinoff blogs after a few months (and continuing pitiful returns from Google Ads), but they're still on my roster. I wonder if any of them have been flagged as spammy - especially since, in effect, I have been "scraping" myself? (I did always include a link to the original posts on Another Monkey to try to drive traffic to my main blog.)

Chuck Croll said...

D.B.,

Without actually examining your blogs, I can't say for sure that what you have described is actually causing problems - but it is certainly a textbook example of how you can do that.

If you had identical content in both the original "Monkey" blog and one or more "spinoff" blogs, simultaneously visible online, that could indeed make your blogs look like members of a splog farm, or at least scraped content.

Duplicated content is not recommended, in any case. Even if you don't end up with spam locked blogs, you will be severely penalised by the search engines. If you want to link the original and "spinoff" blogs, consider using blog feeds and feed gadgets.