Dear Google: When It Comes to Spam, Is Microsoft the Good Guy?

By Steve Bryant  |  Posted 2006-07-13 Print this article Print

Microsoft has been busy trying out new anti-spam technologies lately.

The Softies recently unveiled Strider Search Defender, an experimental project that automates the discovery of search spammers through non-content analysis. Strider uses URL-redirection analysis to find spam links in places like blog comments, forums and newsgroups. The goal is to find spam before it's indexed by search engines.

But what's Google doing? CEO Eric Schmidt doesn't seem to be interested in fighting spam. He seems to believe that click fraud -- much of which happens on spam made-for-AdSense sites -- should just happen.

Google's best suggestion: incoporate the "nofollow" attribute for hyperlinks in comments left by users, so that comments don't get any credit when Google ranks Web sites in search results. Google also recently made changes to the way that its algorithms judge the validity of advertisers' landing pages. While welcomed by many, the change also has the effect of enforcing Google's design standards on private sites.

The merits of Google's decision can be debated back and forth. But the differing approaches the two companies are taking vis-a-vis spam are enlightening: Microsoft wants to remove the inconvenience altogether, whereas Google seems to want to push it onto consumers.

Update: I was out of the office Friday, and didn't see this Google blog entry, which attempts to clarify Google CEO Eric Schmidt's comments about Google's click fraud strategy. Definitely check the post and the video out. (BTW, the video timeline scrubbing feature of Google Video is awesome.)  I don't know what to think when Schmidt says (at about 32.39) "the particular problem to us is not material to our business, it's a small number, we do refunds and so forth." How small are we talking here? The most commonly accepted estimation is that click fraud accounts for 15% of all pay-per-click activity. |

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