One interesting aspect of web spam is that the suckers include both web searchers and advertisers. The goal of spammers is to get the two together and watch the clicking.
A new article in the NYT, Researchers Track Down a Plague of Fake Web Pages, discusses results by a team of researchers from Microsoft and UC Davis.
“Tens of thousands of junk Web pages, created only to lure search-engine users to advertisements, are proliferating like billboards strung along freeways. Now Microsoft researchers say they have traced the companies and techniques behind them.
A technical paper published by the researchers says the links promoting such pages are generated by a small group of shadowy operators apparently with the acquiescence of some major advertisers, Web page hosts and advertising syndicators. … The finding is striking because it hints at the possibility of curbing the practice.
The researchers uncovered a complex scheme in which a small group, creating false doorway pages, works with operators of Web-based computers who profit by redirecting traffic passed from search engines in one direction and then sending advertisements acquired from syndicators in the opposite direction.”
The researchers will present their paper on redirection spamming WWW-2007:
Spam Double-Funnel: Connecting Web Spammers with Advertisers. Yi-min Wang, Ming Ma, Yuan Niu, and Hao Chen. To appear in Proceedings of the 16th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW2007).
Abstract: Spammers use questionable search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to promote their spam links into top search results. In this paper, we focus on one prevalent type of spam â€“ redirection spam â€“ where one can identify spam pages by the third-party domains that these pages redirect traffic to. We propose a fivelayer, double-funnel model for describing end-to-end redirection spam, present a methodology for analyzing the layers, and identify prominent domains on each layer using two sets of commercial keywords â€“ one targeting spammers and the other targeting advertisers. The methodology and findings are useful for search engines to strengthen their ranking algorithms against spam, for legitimate website owners to locate and remove spam doorway pages, and for legitimate advertisers to identify unscrupulous syndicators who serve ads on spam pages.