John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

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Spammer vs. Spammer: Outing Competitors via Referrer Spam

Some time ago in SEO Secret I joked that modern day “SEO” was ratting out your competitors to Google (click on the turtle). Nowadays some blogs make a living mocking spammers and poking at the beast that is search engine spam. Lately, referrer spam is taking off as a way to get the attention of SEOs and marketers (a.k.a. people who actually look at referer logs). I get tons of it… hits that do nothing but place URLs into the referrer list, with a high enough frequency to arouse curiosity and cause me to follow thru and see who is referring traffic to my blog.

Now this is different from traditional referrer spam, which sought back links via published stats (and referrers as live links), because it is hitting my blog (no exposed stats) and hitting it 20 times per day.

Enter “spammer outing via referrer spamming”. If you have a competitor exploiting weaknesses in phpbb or some other lame software package, spoof the referrer using that spam-filled domain, and hit a blog like mine a few dozen times to make it look like johnon.com is mentioned on that site. If I fall for it, I will follow through looking for my mention, and discover the spammy exploited site. If I am so inclined to blog about the spam, as I did here, you will have outed your competitor.  Like Spy. vs. Spy, it Spammer vs. Spammer.

Today it was feeltairarmarchive.com that was “outed” in my traffic logs. In addition to Vargas Girls and naval aviation stuff, it has tons of pharma spam via a phpbb exploit, and blogspot has been spammed to death with doorway pages sending traffic. You’ll have to interrupt the redirect to see the spam, because it sends the traffic on to your typical online drugstore sites.

Now in reality I suspect it was my online pharmacy post that got someone automated referrer spamming bot’s attention and not actually a spammer outing a spammer, but it could work this way also. In this case, Google is not getting it’s cut via AdSense, and blogspot is being used (for free) to generate the doorway pages, so I am guessing Google would shut this down sooner rather than later, no?

It is the referrer spam that bugs me.  Hitting my logs with an invalid IP and a fleetairarmarchive.com referrer…. pretty cheesy.

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