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Friday, May 6, 2005

Syndic8 Spam?

Charles Coxhead and Andy Baio say RSS directory are using sub-domains with “junk articles” which serve no other purpose than to lure searchers to their Google ads. As opposed to other similar cases, Syndic8 – “the place to come to find RSS and Atom news feeds on a wide variety of topics” – openly links to these sub-domains, albeit only in the footer of their homepage in small-print. is a large directory, and they could use their linking power to boost specific sites.

The domains “” and “” are examples of such sites; both “insurance” and “loans” are keywords often found in the context of spam. The article on loans, for instance, can also be found verbatim on (another page with Google AdSense) and (a page linking to topic such as “online casino business” or “affordable life insurance quote”).

Andy Baio says:

“Do people really think this is a legitimate form of advertising revenue? Jeff Barr and Bill Kearney, the two Syndic8 leads, are both smart guys and they seem to support the practice. But why? Gaming search engines makes the web less useful for everyone. As Leonard put it, ’It’s a simple question, right? Is what you’re doing making the world a better place or not?’”

Syndic8’s Jeff Barr responded in Andy’s blog:

“Obviously, we do have some links to some sub-domain pages, each with a bunch of ads on them. A while ago one of my existing advertisers asked me if I would consider doing this for them, and after some thought I agreed. The advertiser creates the pages, and I point DNS and link to them.

Some people don’t like this, and I do see your point. However, I don’t have any hidden links, I am not doing anything tricky. From my point of view I am able to fund the operation of my site based on the fact that its home page has a good pagerank.”

Interestingly enough, I can see no more PageRank for the homepage (not a PageRank 0, but a gray PageRank bar) – neither can I find them when I search Google for “Syndic8” or “”. Andy Baio still reports seeing a PageRank of 7. Could it possibly be Google manually removed them from the index?

Someone called GoogleGuy (if he’s the GoogleGuy, then he’s indeed speaking for Google) in Andy’s blog adds: “At this point, site owners should realize that linking directly to spammy webpages like this – especially on their own domains – can affect their reputation in search engines.”

Update: Andy Baio adds to his original post, “By e-mail, a Google engineer also confirmed that the Google AdSense account for Syndic8’s ad affiliate was terminated.”


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