Google drives a lot of this crap. They count the number of sites that link to a site and use it to rank the sites when they display them after a search request. There are a class of scammers who make money off Google by creating web pages that contain nothing more substantial than links to other pages. They get a little cash for each dumb user who clicks their links instead of backing up and going directly to another site that Google recommends. You may have seen these sites show up when you use Google and been confused how you got directed to this, when you were looking for real content.
The first thing these scammers do is craft the headers of their page so the terms in it match popular and lucrative search terms on Google. Then they write a few paragraphs that sound attractive and on-topic to the searcher’s terms. These form the brief snippets of the site content you find under every Google link. This still isn’t enough to be anywhere close to the top 10 in sites for that search, where everyone wants to be on Google. You need a bunch of sites linking back to yours to achieve that. These scammers found a vulnerability in forum sign-ups that permitted them to register using a robot without going though the regular registration screens. Thus each registration, which includes a listing of the scammers money site in it, counts as a link back to the site. Do this on a thousand forums and you might get in the top ten.
Thankfully Google recently changed the rules on site popularity to try to weed out these scammers. They haven’t revealed the algorithm, but it sounds like they are attempted to judge the “quality” of the links to see if they were created just to game the Google system. I’m hopeful that it will cut down on the scammy registrations. We have noticed a fall-off in registration rates, but we don’t know if it is related or will be permanent.
There are other things that Google does that helps the problems along. One is ignoring the no-crawlers-allowed signs at the door to our site. If Google did what we asked and didn’t crawl our forum, the scammers registrations would have no value to them.
Darn it, Google! You are like Homer’s beer. The cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.
"I am a 12 foot lizard." GCR Jan 31, 2006