Of ClickFraud and Content Theft

ML Sep 25, 2006

Last week, BusinessWeek mentioned HitTail as a way to build a better mousetrap to capture traffic for your blog. This week, BusinessWeek’s front cover is dedicated to Click Fraud. I see solving simultaneous equations at work here. Minimize your exposure to click-fraud while maximizing the un-paid traffic received from organic search. The pressure is on for the world of mainstream marketing to come around to the natural search way of thinking, and HitTail is positioned in the path of that tornado.

An underlying sub-theme of all of this is the pages rolled out across the Internet for the sole purpose of attracting AdSense clicks. I run across these pages all the time, but one caught my attention in particular this morning in the way it syndicated HitTail blog content, but provided no link back to the HitTail site.

Why does this constitute content theft while the dozens of other sites that syndicate HitTail content not? If you want to read more, you can’t! There are ellipsis showing there is more to the article, but no way to get to it. The ONLY links off of that page are AdSense links. There’s not even navigation links on the site.

Now, it’s not a very big site, and none of the pages go back further than August 22nd. Sites like this pop up and get shut down all the time. The rub is, they only get shut down when they trigger off abusive patterns. But by only having 5 pages, they’re flying well below the spam-threshold radar. So, my suspicion is that they own hundreds of such domains, and unsurprisingly, the domain is WhoIs Guard Protected.

Anyway, since there will inevitably be a resurgence of ClickFraud discussion on the Web this week, due to the BusinessWeek article, and I’ve already weighed in on that topic, I’ll take this opportunity to steer some attention to the source of the problem. Google provides incentive to Webmasters to roll out tons of useless pages remixed content pages, which are only half-justified by links back to the original source. And when you remove the link to the original source, it’s outright content theft.

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