Yeah, I said it.
If you have ever stumbled upon a “linkfarm” or “autoblog” site you know it immediately. The context is wrong, the grammar is typically choppy or just indecipherable, and the topics are often all over the map. It is my opinion that these blogs, populated with the random strings of other sources and keyword-laden links and text, are fraudulent and could (and should) be prosecuted criminally.
Check out this example from the website Dintz:
This text is meaningless and is just electronic detritus clogging up the system.
Social media monitoring
As something that you might stumble across by mistake these sites are annoying but reasonably harmless. However, computers are not nearly as good as humans at determining autoblogs from legitimate sites and this can lead to a lot of spam results when using social monitoring tools such as Radian6. This is why most in-depth social media reviews are done using extensive manual labor rather than relying completely on tool results.
The sites that host this nonsense don’t just turn up in searches and monitoring, they also host Google (and other companies’) ads. This, in fact, is the purpose of many of these sites. They get paid for the ads they host and the random traffic they can draw using their “black hat” seo tactics. (For a treatise on “white hat” tactics, see Matt Gemmell’s excellent post: “SEO for Non-dicks“.)
Here’s a typical “dick” post…
…and the resulting Google AdWords placements…
This, by the way, is one of the reasons why impressions are so high, and click through rates so low, for your “Display Network” in Google AdWords. These exposures are often much lower quality than those on the Google search engine itself. To their credit, Google does try to stay on top of this and has a zero tolerance policy regarding autoblogs.
Some social media analysts and media people have been known to say “if a user finds it and is exposed to it then it is a legitimate source”. My response has been that this is a valid argument for users “in the wild” where they can make a decision but is not valid when looking at data through a tool where the same level of interpretation cannot happen.
Tools to build autoblogs
One of the reasons that autoblogs are so prolific in the blogosphere is that there are easily-accessed tools that blatantly help authors create them. An example of such a tool is a WordPress plugin created for this exact purpose: WP Robot 3.
So, why are they fraud?
If all of this hasn’t convinced you that autoblogs are evil, consider the copyright and trademark issues inherent in bots accumulating materials from all over the Web and reposting them without permission to try and trick visitors into clicking on them.
Sure seems fraudulent to me.
If you liked this, you’ll love Autocomments are Fraud too.
 Link provided in case you get an irresistible urge to become a black hat blogger because of this post.