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Search Engines Take On Spam

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Spam. Sometimes, it seems impossible to get away from it.  Search results are inevitably infected by a handful of malicious sites, particularly surrounding trending terms.  What, if anything, are search engines doing to curb spam and enhance the search experience?

New search engines are starting their lives by pointing to the drastic difference between themselves and spammy Google.  FindtheBest, for instance, which debuted last year, calls itself the “anti-search engine.” Founder Kevin O’Connor seeks to provide “apples-to-apples comparisons” of places, products, and institutions.  It recently launched “Top 10 slideshows,” and “buyers guides” to better serve users, and O’Connor hopes to become “a trusted source for consumers to find reliable information free from hidden marketing schemes.”

Blekko, the web slasher, has been busy routing out spam as well.  The search engine recently blocked 1.1 million websites in its new “AdSpam” system.  They aim to block spam before it gets in.  CEO Rich Skrenta says, “This new technology will block spam before it ever shows up in a search results page.  We have algorithmically identified multiple spam signals for every page in our index.  Eliminating those domains from our index has dramatically cleaned up our search results.

What are search biggies Microsoft and Google doing to pare down spam?  Recently, Microsoft worked with law enforcement to shut down a malware network, Rustock.  This network used digital zombies to send billions of daily emails advertising knockoff drugs or false lottery winnings.  Rustock was one of the biggest spam botnets in the world and could send up to 30 billion messages a day — which may well account for those Viagra offers you’ve been receiving.

For its part, Google has recently issued its Panda, or Farmer, Update, which was said to affect nearly 12 percent of queries.  The effort was aimed at cracking down on content farms, though many sites, like Associated Content and Hug Pages, got caught in the middle.  Beyond this, Google says it continually revamps its algorithms to improve search experiences.

The war against spam continues.

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