Trackback Spam


A Rising Trend – Trackback or Pingback Spam

What is Trackback Spam? Trackback spam is a way for spammers to garner backlinks from your posts to their website. I categorise trackback spam into several groups. Firstly, false trackback spam. Then we find the obscured related article link. Finally mass trackback spam.

False Trackback Spam

trackback spam diagram
Image from Rice University – Computer Security Lab

This is the most insidious, and unethical of the three groups. False trackback spam is when a spammer creates a list of related article links, publishes the post, so a ping is sent to your blog resulting in a trackback (or pingback) that the spammer hopes will get published, either automatically if moderation is not in place, or by a blogger thinking, “how nice of this person to link to my post”.

After the ping has been sent, the spammer then REMOVES the links to your article… This is a trackback spam method I see more often lately.

Obscured Links

Obscured links is a marginal spamming method – not all are spam – most probably are not. If you ever follow trackbacks to the linked post, you may have noticed the link to your site is hidden to viewers behind a collapsed ‘box’ and you need to click the “related links” text to see the referred to sites. Deciding if this is trackback spam is up to the blogger – some genuine (not spammers) bloggers use this to keep the layout of their posts clean, and avoid distraction – there are even plugins for WordPress and other CMS to do create these collapsed links

The link is however in the source code of the page at all times, not only when a visitor clicks on the item to see the links.

Mass Trackback Spam

Another (less common) method found. The author of the post publishes a long list of related articles, often exceeding the length of the article. Again, it is hard to conclude if this is really spam, or just a blogger wanting to recommend every possible article for further reading.

“I Do Want to Publish Real Trackbacks”

Bloggers are, on the whole, a friendly and interactive bunch of web authors. We appreciate other bloggers referring to our online scribblings, and like to show appreciation, so we like to publish trackbacks (and comments)… What we need is discretion if we are not to fall victim to trackback spammers. Visit the post the pingback originated from, and see if the link to your post is really there, and check back a few days later too – sometimes you will find the link has been removed. It can be a good idea to leave the pingbacks and only decide to moderate at intervals…

Of course, if the referring article is relevant and good, and you really want to thank the author for linking – edit your post and add the link into a paragraph with a good anchor text description of the article (and allow search engines to “follow” the link).

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About Mike

Web Developer and Techno-geek Saltwater fishing nut Blogger

Posted on February 8, 2012, in Blogs, Spam and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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