Blog Scam — New Breed of Business Opportunity and Internet Scam
With the growing number of blog scam, it has reached a point where we should be concerned about the scene and their impact to the the blogosphere, the Web and Internet as a whole.
It seems like for everyone who tries to make money online, there is no fast track method to learn how to do it. Everyone has to go through the same process and learn the hard way. At least most people that I spoke to in the past have more or less the same experience.
Heck, I was in the same shoes not so long ago…
The thing is, no matter how much good information available, people have a tendency to move toward an easier solution, at least for the first time.
If you think about it, that just makes sense. Given a choice to start a business from scratch, work very hard for at least one year before seeing any kind of good result, or do it the fun, easy, and from-the-beach way, most people will choose the latter rather than the former.
With no surprise at all, people fall into the so called blog scams and basically any other get rich quick (GRQ) business opportunity because let’s face it. Even if you have failed a few times, you want to believe there is a golden key that will open the floodgates of Internet money windfall.
I recall a few years ago when I finally had to give the dream up. I felt more disappointed than angry, this GRQ biz opps didn’t work in reality. If only it was true…
(You know, still a bit of hope that it would eventually work out of magic, just for once again, but I decided to throw the idea out of the window…)
GRQ Scams Get a Makeover… Blog Scams!
With the advent of blog software that is able to do magic when it comes to getting any kind of content online, GRQ scams has just got a makeover.
I bet you have seen a bunch of hype about making millions building a network of blogs.
How do they work?
Blog scams take advantage of the fact that a blog is easy to update and you could get any piece of content up within seconds, not to mention that it can potentially be automated.
This means if you have access to scripted web application that may scour the Internet for free articles or generate junk content, you will be able to setup blogs that update automatically.
Building hundreds, if not thousands of these blogs, is a no brainer if you have the right software.
With such a model, the scheme can be labeled as creating useful blogs with solid content, although the truth is, it involves publishing repetitive — or random spin off of existing — content.
What Makes Blog Scams Scam?
You may look at blogging scams from two standpoints. As a visitor who is interested with the content the Web has to offer, usually such a blog provides little or no value at all, wasting the visitor quite a lot of time.
Usually, that is not the main intention of the blog owner. What s/he wants to accomplish often times is because of greed — to make money from the visitors through one way or another.
According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
The scam artists lure would-be entrepreneurs with false promises of big earnings for little effort. They pitch their fraudulent offerings on the Web; in e-mail solicitations; through infomercials, classified ads and newspaper and magazine “advertorials”; and in flyers, telemarketing pitches, seminars, and direct-mail solicitations.
Note: I’m not saying there is no way to make money online. Once you set it up properly, it may involve very little work on your part, but still you have to work hard to reach that level. There is no such thing as autopilot income from the start.
There is no doubt that a blog can be a very powerful tool for business and marketing. As a blog evangelist, I encourage the use of a blog as a tool to sell products or services or build business brand online. The fact is, there are unlimited ways to use a blog nowadays.
However, there are some models that are presented in a way that turns a blog into more of a fraud than legitimate business.
The thought of easy money is very appealing, but the truth is making money and building long term success usually requires hard work. This has always been the case for both offline and online business.
Heck if you approach it with the same mindset, you are going to increase your chance to succeed online.
Because many of the blog scams revolve around using a blog as a web publishing tool, let’s talk about that. Building a legitimate online publishing business is not only possible but could bring many of the luxury of having a web business.
Some of the benefits include working from home or wherever place you wish. You become your own boss and set your own working schedule. The Internet doesn’t have business hours. It is always on whenever you want to access it.
As to the potential, Weblogs Inc. sold a blog network to AOL for $25 million in 2005. That certainly is not a fad. And a smaller scale of success is certainly possible if you have the right combination of mind set, work ethic, business strategy, and marketing.
So, what makes a blog model scam?
- It promises little to no work. Once installed, the system will work day and night automatically without fail. Before long, you will see results. It will start churning out endless stream of cash in a week or less.
- High earning claims. Hundreds of dollars per day is not uncommon with such system. It becomes a numbers game. If one site / blog earned $1 per day, then 1,000 blogs would earn you $1,000 a day. Afterall, it is effortless to setup.
- Incredibly easy system and steps to follow. No technical skill required. The system works on auto-pilot without the need to learn a thing. Just buy it and make yourself a cup of coffee. If you know how to browse the Web, or point and click, you can operate it.
- Speed. People are naturally impatient. Blog scammers know it so they offer something very unrealistic, but still people buy into it. Seven figure in six months… or something very similar.
For example, an ad that I saw a while ago offered people an opportunity to make $31,000 per month blogging with an easy to follow and step-by-step guide, which was sold for $49.95. While it is possible to make that kind of money by blogging, it doesn’t come easily.
Before your blog takes off, in order to get traffic you have to work your “you-know-what” off. It also requires persistent. If you don’t have the necessary skills, you have to learn what it takes to make it work.
What Makes Blog Scams Possible?
A blog is a great publishing tool. The technology has improved to a point that it can be used as content management system (CMS) for small and medium sites. With the underlying infrastructure and the blogosphere, a blog is suitable for anyone who have a passion to get their thoughts out and be found.
A blog allows the readers to interact with the blogger, something most conventional CMS can’t do, at least not as easily as a blog.
It is not uncommon that a blog gets traffic the same day it was started. Search engine spiders are known to crawl blogs within 24-48 hours since the first entry is published. It may take longer, but still it is a shortcut to getting listed in major search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN Search.
Just as a comparison, if you submit your site to search engines, it may take a few months before the search engine spiders actually come.
One-click publishing and instant search engine crawling are only two compelling benefits of blogging. Blog scams take advantage of those benefits to offer software package or guides that promise unrealistic income.
To understand it further, you need to grasp a few fundamental concepts or principles.
- Online users are searching for information. They are always in need for information before they actually make a purchase.
- A lot of people start the search in search engines.
- There are many untapped keywords, especially long tail keywords — low search volume per keyword but there are lots of them.
- A blog lets anyone publish content quickly.
- Setup correctly, a publisher will get the blog crawled in record time by search engine spiders.
- Frequently updated blog tends to rank high in search engines.
- A blog lets people find you in many ways.
- There are some advertising networks that allow any publisher to cash in on their content almost immediately.
Depends on how you’d see it, you are likely to notice a real business opportunity, or potential scam by unscrupulous scam artists.
Common Techniques Used by Blog Scammers
It doesn’t take long time of research to realize patterns used by common blog scammers.
The systems are more or less the same, with a few twists here and there. Of course, a product may be slightly improved over the predecessors.
If you think about it, such system usually fills in a demand too, exactly like what a legitimate model does. People are looking for information. If you are able to provide that, with the right promotion, your blog will be found.
Just that with a scam, but they do it by spamming the search engines. That is a very common model. It used to be that you could be able to make good money easily with this method but as search engines become smarter they know enough to sift pages better. And they are only going to get better.
Relying your business upon such a model, with the wrong expectation to earn an unrealistic figure, is not what most people want.
There is more than one way to do it though. For instance, when it comes to content, the system may go through different ways to process source of content such as directory listings, free article directories or datafeeds from affiliate merchants.
Here are some common blog scam techniques:
Blog Content Generation Tools
- Auto RSS feeds to blog posting. Source one or more RSS feeds and post each entry as standalone content on the new spam blog (splog). Not only they add no value to existing content but often they fail to credit the source.
- Auto keyword stuffing content. Get content from random places, including search engine results and directory listings (they usually are keyword focused) before injecting it to the blog.
- Datafeed processing tool. Process product data from affiliate merchant’s datafeed and post them as content to the blog, complete with affiliate links.
- Free article directories scraper. Search article directories for free articles related to the topic you want to post.
- Private label content spinner. Private label content is a cheap way to get huge amount of content. Rather than manually rewrite the content, the author could use the tool to spin paragraphs, words and bits of contents to make them unique. The result is often not as natural as writing a piece of content from scratch, unless you spend a lot of time on it, which defeats the purpose of such software.
Inbound Link Tools
- Blog and ping. Ping as many services as possible. Some of the services will index the pages in those blog services, which in lead to the blog. Others will let real users find the post when searching for information. However, these tools usually focus on the benefit of getting strong link popularity instead of real visitors because people detect fishy content relatively fast.
- Auto reciprocal link request. It is surprising that people are actually linking to splogs, but it happens especially between splogs to boost link popularity.
- Auto site submission tools. Submit to millions of directories and search engines, also sites that allow adding links.
- Blog comment and trackback spamming. Automatically post blog comments that link back to the blog. Some of the comment spam get into the blogs, for each which doesn’t include a nofollow attribute, it is a boost for their link popularity.
- Auto submission to social bookmarking sites. Submit to as many social bookmarking sites with the right keyword as tag so the content is found by interested users.
Tag and ping. Use tagging such as Technorati tags so the blog is found for popular search terms.
- Auto blog creation tool. Create hundreds, if not thousands of blogs automatically from one interface.
- Keyword research tool. While not exactly a scam, they are used by black hat publishers who make money from AdSense arbitrage method or others, but directing traffic to spam sites/splogs.
- Search engine cloaking. Returning different content pages for search engines and human visitors for the sake of cheating the search engine spiders.
I am sure there are many tools either publicly sold or created for personal use by many sploggers, but those lists above are very common.
The Thin Line Between Legitimate Blog Models and Scams
The line that separates between a blog scam and legitimate blog model is often very thin.
In fact, some techniques used by blog scams take advantage of the benefits of blogging. The problem is, often they are used in ways that are destructive.
For example, “blog and ping” is a great tool to notify blog search engines about new entries or changes on your blog. Used properly, it tracks every single conversation that is currently happening on the blogosphere.
Aggressive blog and ping with spammy content turns the services into something less useful because of the volume of spam. It pollutes the blogosphere.
Some site generation tools claim to be legitimate and concentrate on building solid content based on sophisticated methods. Although the content generated are based on good information, still they lack personality and more or less repetition of the same content.
Bloggers who care to automate the whole publishing process usually don’t care much about the quality of content. They often use content from other people’s feed or article directories. That doesn’t add any value to the Internet.
Another technique utilizes mass submission tool for social bookmarking sites. This tool defeats the entire purpose of social bookmarking which is collection of really useful sites submitted and collected manually by human beings.
Of course, there are huge differences between real blog with splogs but sometimes the line is so thin even some bloggers fail to realize what they use is actually cheesy.
Your mileage may vary, but with a basic understanding of what is a blog and how it works, you soon will realize that every tool that tries to automate things to the extreme will either get you nowhere or even bring bad things to your business.
The last thing you want is to be banned by search engines, deleted from blog search engines or simply being avoided by readers, who are one of the most important currency for your blog.
Really, if you understand how these tools work and instead take the time to write your own content, network with other bloggers, build solid inbound links, post comments to other blogs, you are going to get some real exposure and build a legitimate blog that you are going to be proud of. The laziness and automation parts are what make them harmful for long term business.
The analogy is, people who keep polluting the Web and blogosphere with spammy content, it is like peeing into the pond they are going to drink from. Make the Web a better place by contributing solid content. After all, we are going to make use of it too. Plus you are going to build a sustainable business out of it.
The choice is yours.
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