Detecting flogging & other blog spam using Google Alerts and why it’s important that you do it too.

I read an article in a newsletter a couple of weeks ago that the UK is considering legislation to make flogging (fake testimonials etc in blogs) a crime, possibly with jail time. Perhaps a bit extreme (A little time on a pillory at Charing Cross would do).

We use Google Alerts to watch our clients’ competitors for flogging and other blog spam and then turn them in to Google. We think it’s important that more companies do this.

A little background. Flogging can be an entire blog set up to run fake product or service testimonials or it could be just one or more posts within a blog where the blogger has included a fake testimonial, often for payment. See the Wikpedia page about flogging here,

We’ve seen other types of blog spam, such as posts that are obviously machine generated, sometimes complete gibberish, and include links to company web pages.

It’s easy to watch your competitors for flogging and blog spam. We setup Google Alerts,, to watch for mentions of our client’s competitors, domain name(s), product names etc. Google then sends us links to anything it indexes that mention them.

We examine everything. As I mentioned, we’ve seen competitors seeding blogs with obvious machine generated messages including links to their site. Usually we get alerts on 3 to as much as 10 similar posts all within a few days.

Flogging, fake testimonials, is a bit harder to detect as they are often well crafted and each one unique. We have to read each post.

Once we got a few examples of blog spam or flogging (what’s the chances that two or more people who run separate blogs think so highly of any product or service that just have to talk about it in their blog?) we turn them into Google via Webmaster Tools.

After we turned in the competitor that was seeding blogs with machine generated posts it stopped not long after.

We think it’s important that more companies watch for flogging and blog spam and turn in offenders. It can be difficult for search engines to police this on their own, especially in the case of flogging where a human has to read the blogs to detect flogging.

If blog spam and flogging is allowed to significantly influence the effect of blogs on incoming links then the search engines may devalue incoming links from more and more blogs just as they’ve had to devalue so much in the past (Like articles, etc)