The people from SEO Digger recently put together some research on search spam. Some of the terminology they use (like using the word illicit) is inaccurate, but the trends they discovered align well with what one would expect.
Spam Dominates Longtail Adult & Pill Search Queries
In high money niches, spam sites tended to dominate longer search queries while having less exposure in search results for shorter queries. View the below graph with adult, pills, dating, cars, gifts, and casinos. It shows the normalized density of spam sites ranking in Google by 1, 2, and 3 word queries.
Why is Casino an Anomaly?
I believe the reasons casinos appear so tight nit are
- US advertising laws and gaming laws prohibit some of the common spam related revenue streams
- leading online gaming sites have heavily embraced both offline advertising and SEO
- people who gamble tend to be quite passionate about gambling
That passion means gamers are more active to participate in community sites in that niche, which further consolidates traffic streams due to network effects and creates a lot of free on topic content for some of the major community driven sites.
Effective Search Spamming Business Models
Given this research, if you were to create a business model revolving around spamming, it makes sense to focus on the long tail of search. Get enough PageRank to get your pages indexed, but do not worry about accumulating enough PageRank to try to rank for core keywords in the spammy niches. Plus, staying away from the core keywords makes your sites less likely to get booted from a manual review and/or a competitor snitching on you.
Spam & Ranking Low Trust New Sites
The exact same trend that is seen between real sites vs spam sites is paralleled when considering new websites vs older websites.
- Older websites that are heavily linked at and heavily trusted dominate the core category related keywords.
- Longer search queries have less matches in the search database, and are thus more reliant on the on the page aspects of SEO.
- Older sites can not possibly adequately cover all the related longtail search phrases, so newer sites with less authority rank for many of the more accessible long tail keywords.
If you create a new site you can set your goals on ranking for core category keywords, but realize that longtail traffic will come first. If Google lets entire categories get dominated by spam pages then there has to be an associated opportunity to rank real pages.
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