What is spam?

The term spam is used to summarize all unsolicited electronic messages; as a rule, these are advertising messages. While spam in the “classic” sense primarily relates to e-mails, the term is also used for certain procedures in search engine optimization.

Email spam

Most spam messages are very easy to recognize due to certain characteristics. For example, you are often not addressed by your direct name in the subject line. The sender usually contains cryptic characters or the sender pretends to be a company employee, while the email extension only shows a freemail provider.

If you open the e-mail in spite of these instructions, you should recognize at the latest from the content that it is spam, because the correct address is usually also missing here. Most of the time the content turns out to be a bad translation or is peppered with numerous links. By clicking on the links, the sender recognizes that the e-mail address is still active, which can lead to an increase in the frequency of spam messages. It is also possible that the link leads you to malware. Phishing toois operated via the links, ie you will be directed to an apparently reputable login page, for example from Ebay or PayPal, and should log in there in order to verify your account. In reality, however, it is a phishing site that intercepts your data and can cause great financial damage.

Malware is also the keyword for the file attachments that contain many spam emails. Opening it can cause malware to be installed undetected, which can collect data or even delete data on the PC. Therefore, never open an attachment unless you are absolutely sure who the sender is.

Collection of email addresses by spambots

Spambots spy out email addresses that are then used by spam senders.

You have probably already received spam e-mails from unknown senders and wondered where they got your e-mail address from. The addresses are “tracked down” using spambots. These are scripts or programs that systematically search the Internet for email addresses. The addresses found are combined into distribution lists and used to send spam e-mails. The programs that identify and filter out these spam e-mails in your mailbox are also a kind of spambots. They are known as spam filters.

Spam on social networks and instant messaging

In social networks, spammers usually find the contacts they want using the internal network search. You can use it to reach certain groups or fan sites, for example. As with e-mails, the spammers then send messages with a link. This either leads to unwanted advertising offers or redirects to a phishing site.

The term spim is often used in connection with instant messaging services (spam instant messaging). The collection of contact data takes place, among other things, via user directories that are created by the Instant Messanger program itself. In addition, many users of these services put their account names on the Internet so that they are visible and usable for every user.

Search engine spam

Spam to influence search engine results is also known as spamdexing. This includes all measures that violate search engine guidelines and serve to achieve a better position in the search results (SERP). The term spamdexing is a combination of the words “spam” and “indexing”. Alternative terms are search engine spamming, Google spamming or googleating, with the latter term referring to a special variant of spam, namely the creation of websites that only serve to influence the link structure in order to bring websites forward in the search engine results.

Spam techniques in spamdexing

The spam techniques are always based on certain search engine evaluation strategies. The search engines use complex algorithms, which in turn determine the position in the search results at which a page appears. You can use it to see, for example, whether a page is relevant for a category or a keyword. The text content and the URL play a role here.

Spamdexing can be roughly divided into the categories “content spam” and “link spam”:

Content spam

Content spam includes all the spam measures that are implemented on the website itself. This is possible, among other things, as follows:

– Keywords are repeated in high numbers on the page in order to simulate a higher relevance for this term. Such keyword clusters are often located at the bottom of the page or in areas that are not visible to the user.

– Keywords are hidden by having the same font color as the background. The same method is used for hiding words / phrases that are not thematically relevant to the page, but are only intended to attract more visitors.

– Accommodation of keywords in the ALT attributes of images.

Link spam

For the assessment of a page, Google also evaluates its backlinks, including the type, origin and number of links. Spammers use this evaluation, for example, by creating additional pages (satellite pages) for a website, the purpose of which, however, is only to link to the website to be strengthened. Other spam measures to artificially influence the link profile are the massive setting of links in guest books, comment fields or forums, whereby spam mainly includes links that have absolutely nothing in common with the topic of the forum, blog, etc. to have.

In addition, there are other spam methods such as:

Doorway Pages

Doorway pages, also called bridging pages, are created just like satellite pages to influence the ranking of another page. However, they work differently: They are placed in front of the actual website, although they are seldom visible even to the user and instead usually redirect directly to the desired page. This is also known as cloaking. The doorway page itself is therefore visually unappealing and only heavily optimized in terms of content, ie through an accumulation of keywords or keyword lists. The problem is with the search engine The content is different from that of the user, because he is not directed to the bridge page, but to the actual website, which, however, only reached the search position using manipulative techniques.

Log file spam

Log file spam, also known as referral spam, refers to the technique of calling up websites in order to include your own page, which is to be brought forward in the search results, in the referrer information of the website you clicked on. This information is a statistic that is publicly accessible on many pages and can also be read by search engines. This shows exactly where the clicks come from, as their origin is displayed as a real link. This in turn leads to a backlink for the page that is to be promoted – i.e. an artificial increase in the backlinks in order to simulate high relevance to the search engine.

Further information on referral spam: Vitaly rules

Google bombing

With this spam technique, numerous links are generated to a website, the link text of which has nothing to do with the content of the linked page. Most of the time this is aimed at devaluing the site or its content. A popular example dates back to 2003. At that time, numerous pages linked a biographical overview of George W. Bush with the link text “miserable failure”. After a short time, the page was number 1 for this search term.

Next Google Bombing Examples: Google Bombs

Consequences of spam – actions taken by search engines

As a rule, the definition of spam differs from search engine operator to search engine operator. The use of spam measures is also penalized differently. Today, spam is mostly detected automatically by the search engines themselves. Messages from other Internet users (e.g. via the Google spam report page) or manual detection by employees of the search engine operator also play a role.

If spam is now identified on your website, the search engine operator can impose a penalty. The punishment ranges from devaluing the ranking to deleting it from the index and blocking the IP address. If you are lucky, the sentence is limited – but otherwise irreversible.

Spam vs. website optimization

According to healthknowing.com, spam is defined as all pages that mislead the user or are of no use to him, e.g. by receiving the same information on several pages or by links leading to completely different offers than the link text or the announcement before the link promises. The aim of these actions is to improve your position in the search results. However, that is also the goal of search engine optimization: A website should rank as high as possible for terms that are relevant to its offer. To achieve this, the search engine optimizer naturally uses the knowledge of the search engine’s sorting algorithms as a guide.

The difference to the spam measures described above, however, is that in a serious search engine optimization, informative pages are created or that information is “built in” on the page (e.g. via keywords in the text or in the meta data) that help Google to classify the content and thereby provide the user with a better result. If a page is designed to be user-friendly and at the same time provides the desired information, manipulative spam techniques are not necessary.

Each search engine operator gives precise information on which measures are inadmissible and lead to exclusion from the index.

What is spam