Got an email address? You’re getting spam! (welcome to the real world!)  The university might be doing a good job of screening you from it, but spam on the Internet is as common as a swastika  in Ventersdorp! Unfortunately, email spam isn’t the only spam variety. There’s also link spam.

Unless you run a Web site, you might not know about link spam. It’s a way for criminal webmasters to boost the value of their sites, and it all relates back to how search engines work.

Not only do search engines check the content of websites they also check to see who trusts or depends on those website. That’s shown by links. So, for instance, if you own a Web site and link back to this GERGABlog, you are bestowing a little of your goodness on us. That’s how Google, Yahoo!, Bing and the others interpret your generosity.

But if you run a site that’s not trustworthy and no one in their right mind would ever link to you, how can you still achieve search-engine greatness? One way is to load the system with link spam. We see it in our comments here on GERGABlog all the time.

“Great post. That’s really well thought out,” is typical of comment spam. The content of the comment is meaningless. The commenter is really trying to get his/her URL listed alongside the comment. If he does–bingo!

Link spam has the net effect of cheapening search engine results. If you’ve ever clicked a search link and ended up on a page with little real content you’re probably a victim.

This is also fresh in my mind because of since opening the GERGABlog in March 2009,  I’ve recieved 70+ comments, and all but 10 of them are link spam!

Confidence games – and that’s what this is – a con game – have always existed. The Internet just makes it easier for crooks to find their marks and operate in a high volume environment.

[with thanks to Geoff Fox from AppScout for the information]