As most of you know, one of the newer ways to increase your Web site's search engine ranking is to have various blogs link to your site. Many people believe that blogs are weighted more heavily in search rankings than traditional Web sites, so the practice has caught on--to a fault.
It's an age-old adage: As soon as some good phenomenon gets started, someone comes along to exploit it for his or her own benefit, and lowers its value for everyone. The Wall Street Journal had an article this week about how irresponsible marketers are using tens of thousands of gibberish blogs for the sole purpose of increasing the links and rankings of some generally unappealing Web sites. These devoid-of-content blogs are called splogs-- a combination of "spam" and "blog."
The article goes on to call out splogs as public enemy number two on the Internet. (Identity theft is apparently number one.) While splogging is irresponsible and harmful to the blog ecosystem, it's hardly a threat to the Internet overall.
As far as I can tell, the only real impact of splogging is the corruption of the current blog search engines. If you already know the blog (or news feed) to which you want to subscribe, then splogging won't impact you. In other words, if you go to the New York Times Web site and click the XML link to add it to your news reader, the world of splogging has zero impact on you. Splogging only hurts you if you are using a search engine to find the feed.
So, what about search engines? I'm no search guru but from what I've seen, the search engines are engaged in a never-ending battle with rogue marketers trying to thwart the ranking systems and get otherwise-less-appealing sites ranked higher with the engines. Search engines have been contending with this since search engines were invented. Years ago, the bad guys created tons of fake and gibberish Web sites that pointed to their target Web sites. Somehow the search engines figured out this trick and were able to continue to return proper results. Blogs and feeds are nothing more than Web sites (of a sort), and I have every faith that the search engines will be able to get one step ahead of sploggers just as they did with the companies that created so many fake Web sites years ago.
It's like the old Mad Magazine cartoon, "Spy vs. Spy." The bad marketers and the search engines will be trying to outsmart each other until the end of time. Blogs are just the latest battleground. Mark my word, in a year, splogging won't concern users or search engines. Search engines have too much history solving this kind of problem for me to believe that blogs are somehow the battleground where they will finally lose the war.