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spammer toolEmail spam is annoying, but pretty easy to ignore nowadays. But have you ever wondered how and why your favourite forum died and was suddenly filled with viagra adverts? How about those nonsensical blog comments you got that just don’t seem relevant?

Read on to find out about the tools the Internet spammers have at their disposal, and more importantly how you can protect your online presence against them.

Note: I’ve decided to deliberately censor the names of some of these tools. I chose to do this, not the editors of MakeUseOf, because these tools are for the most part unethical and dangerous. These tools are technically classified as blackhat, and stand a very high chance of getting you and your site banned from Google if you are caught using them. You have been warned.

X-?????

This is a truly vicious little Windows tool that’s able to automatically register and post profile links to popular online forum systems. Defeating this software is a daily battle for most forum webmasters, and often results in wide ranging IP bans. Once a spammer IP address is identified, it’s reported to a community database and stored. An entire industry has arisen which offers to run the software for you, saving you the trouble of worrying about IPs, usually by making use of their own vast database of hacked proxies. $50 will nab you around 10,000 profile links.

One way to make sure your forum site isn’t inundated is to make sure you’re always running the latest version of trusted open-source software. While it won’t stop them registering, it does avoid the complete spam takeovers that occur when a backdoor is discovered in old forum software.

Luckily, Google is now very efficient at identifying sites using this technique. It’s a foregone conclusion that if you use this software or purchase these services, your website will be de-indexed from Google, never to return again.

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spammer tool

?????Box

This one is a blog mass-commenter, but many claim it can also be used legitimately. The process is quite simple – using a series of proxies, you ‘scrape’ Google for blogs that are relevant to your keywords – maybe as many as 50,000 sites – then systematically post the same (or spun) comment to each blog, under a fake name, fake email, and whatever links you want. The result of this is poorly worded and grammatically incorrect comments which usually have nothing to do with the original article – AKA comment spam.

Another common tactic is flattery. You’d be surprised how many blog owners will actually approve a comment just because it says “Thanks for this wonderfully useful post, I’ll be sure to bookmark your site!“. Sometimes you’ll receive seemingly innocent non-spammy comments that don’t contain a link – but don’t be fooled – spammers know that if one comment is accepted, most blogs are set up to automatically accept their next comment. So after a single spam campaign, they repeat the whole thing using the same name and email – this time in the hope that their first comment was accepted and they are now free to post whatever link they like. If one site fails – who cares, there’s another 49,999 to try!

The best defence against this kind of spam? Akismet will catch a lot of it, but if you want to be really sure, add a comment Captcha plugin or require users to be registered. We have previously covered a number of methods to stop spam Kill Spam Comments On Your Blog For Good With ReCaptcha Kill Spam Comments On Your Blog For Good With ReCaptcha Read More and you might also even consider switching over entirely to Facebook comments How To Add Facebook Widgets & Buttons To Your Website How To Add Facebook Widgets & Buttons To Your Website Read More .

spammer tactics

??Nuke-?

This software is prohibitively expensive for most at around $150/month, but it’s the most powerful automated promotion tool out there. With a built in database of thousands of forums, blog providers, social networks, press release and article sites, it can automatically create multiple online personas – registering accounts all over the place, posting some links or articles, and making itself relatively indistinguishable from a regular user in the process. And all with automated proxy rotation, error recovery and multi-threaded browsers. Scary stuff – and you can even design your own attack plan.

Luckily, it doesn’t target individual blogs, but rather the services that provide free blogs or resource sites – so you don’t have to worry about defending against this one. It may however give you pause for thought about how much relevance we should be placing on social signals in search..

spammer tactics

Proxies & Decaptcha Services

We cover a lot of proxy services and VPNs here on MakeUseOf, usually a way to get around a corporate or school firewall – but hiding IPs is also essential to those who spam the Internet. Rather than simply using a single proxy though, they will purchase a list of hundreds and cycle through them.

I touched on decaptcha services before in my article Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Captchas Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About CAPTCHAs But Were Afraid To Ask [Technology Explained] Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About CAPTCHAs But Were Afraid To Ask [Technology Explained] Love them or hate them - CAPTCHAs have become ubiquitous on the Internet. What on earth is a CAPTCHA anyway, and where did it come from? Responsible for eye-strain the world over, the humble CAPTCHA... Read More . By utilising systems that forward the captcha image to third world countries, spammers are able to take advantage of incredibly cheap labor to accurately solve captchas for them.

Spin Text

One problem that spammers find is that the same content posted over and over again is very easily to identify and therefore block. Spinning was therefore invented as a way to automatically and very slightly alter various parts of the content, and in the most basic terms means swapping out words with ones that have a similar meaning.

Writing out these variations by hand is painstaking work though, so most spammers rely on an automated spinning service – which explains why the majority of spam you see seems to have the most ridiculous English ever. It’s not written by foreigners, it’s auto-spun.

spammer tool

Anyway, I hope this has been an interesting little tour into the underground world of Internet spammers, and hopefully armed you with a little more knowledge on how to defeat it. For those of you looking to learn more about these tools and how to obtain them – sorry, this is one topic I won’t be divulging any more details on! If you are looking at promoting your website through legal or ethical methods though, I suggest you check out my previous article on 8 Proven Ways To Make Your Blog Popular 8 Proven Tips To Make Your Wordpress Blog Popular 8 Proven Tips To Make Your Wordpress Blog Popular Read More , or subscribe to my own personal site, Make Money Blogging, where I regularly address the topic.

Image Credit: ShutterStock

  1. Bob Miller
    January 5, 2016 at 1:47 am

    It's not the tools, it's how you use them. If I gave you a hammer, you can build a house with it, or hit someone on the head as hard as you can.

    I've used some of these tools and have ranked sites that are still ranked to this day. Don't understand this 'let's spread FUD, ooh scary blackhat tools' mentality around here.

    • James Bruce
      January 5, 2016 at 8:22 am

      I didn't say they don't work, and you're free to live by your own ethical guidelines obviously. If you really *need* these tools to rank your sites though, then perhaps your content isn't as useful as it should be.

  2. shane lee
    September 7, 2011 at 4:55 am

    This is all really great information, but just as a quick question about seo and relevant content to your blog. If you want backlinks that will help you the most then would posting on dofollow blogs with a topic relevant to your post be anymore helpful than if you post on another blog thats unrelated with just as high of a pr. Would there really be much of a difference in terms of a backlink.

    • muotechguy
      September 7, 2011 at 7:53 am

      Hi Shane, thanks for the compliment. Sadly, I can't answer your question as no one really knows the inner workings of the google ranking algorithm and to give advice on such would unprofessional of me. 

      To be honest, if you're comparing the relative merits of one backlink over another starting to consider specifically seeking out dofollow blogs, it's time to take a step back and consider your overall strategy a little. It's great that you're inquisitive about these things, but ultimately they're just one minor factor in the big scheme of things and it's important not to get bogged down on the details. 

      If you remember that content is king, and thought-out responses on relevant blogs are always welcome and useful, you will not go wrong. Begin to target do follow blogs, and youre heading down the wrong path. 

      Hope that helps!

  3. Aogoi
    August 31, 2011 at 8:19 am

    there is no need to reveal the software, most internet marketers know those softwares.

  4. Brian
    August 2, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    I found this an interesting read. Thanks you James. 

  5. nik
    July 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    A well written article James. It has some good details. Blackhat SEO will only damage the SERP of a website and whatever improvements you see from black hat is only temporary.

    • Aibek
      July 31, 2011 at 6:12 pm

      good point, Blackhat techniques are short term.

      • James Bruce
        July 31, 2011 at 7:55 pm

        and often permanently damaging in the long term

  6. Jeffery Fabish
    July 30, 2011 at 1:20 am

    I thought you were better than this, James. 3/10

    • James Bruce
      July 30, 2011 at 8:09 am

      Well Jeffery, it's not possible to please everyone all the time, but I would ask that you elaborate on that so I can cater to your needs more fully in the future and improve myself as a writer. 

      What exactly dont you like? Are you opposed to the general concept of exposing these kinds of underground software? I'm not sure why, as my motives are to educate people on the kind of tools out there. Before I knew about these, I would accept spam comments all the time. I'd like people to defend themselves against it. I'm not aiming to get more people using them, hence why I deliberately obfuscated the names and deleting comments that show links/names of the software in them. Or do you not approve of my writing style? 

  7. John
    July 29, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Sorry to bother again but just wondering, how can you make links NOFOLLOW or DOFOLLOW and also how can you understand if links are NOFOLLOW? For example both on your name and my name there are website linkes. I just checked the source to see if anything says about NOFOLLOW or DOFOLLOW but nothing there.
    Another question is, as you wrote above spammer are creating profiles from forum websites and blogs etc. And put a link on the profile, how about it, is it good for SEO?   I will read you article "8 Proven Tips To Make Your WordPress Blog Popular". I personally also trying to find ways to promote my blog but don't know where to start to be honest. I was looking for a freelancer from the freelancer_com, and some of them are offering thousands of back links for very little money, but more than likely spam then. And do you think it would bring more harm then good? What would u advice in terms of professional help.

    • Xps
      July 30, 2011 at 4:52 am

      A dofollow link has no special attribute. Any link that isn't nofollow is dofollow. Looking closer at the source, I can see it's nofollow by the relative attribute added to the anchor tag:
      <a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="your site" id="dsq-author-user-269006390">John</a>

      To make your links nofollow, add rel="nofollow" to the anchor tags. To make it dofollow, remove those tags.

      • James Bruce
        July 30, 2011 at 8:05 am

        Thanks XPS. 

        John - stay well away from anything offering thousands of links. It will do a lot of harm to your blog and very little good. 

        I would like to write more about SEO tips for beginners, but I'm afraid the powers that be have determined it to be a banned topic here on MUO. You've already read my 8 tips, so beyond that it's difficult to give specific advice without seeing the site. 

        First, do have your on-site SEO in good shape? By which I mean, relevant titles, meta tags etc? How is the content? If you produce content that is unique, interesting, and popular... people will link to you eventually. Natural growth is the best way to go nowadays unless you have money to spend on quality link building (not random 1000 links for $10 or whatever). Apart from that, try to encourage social sharing - statistic show that major websites now get more traffic from incoming facebook visitors that google. If you offer something for free - to download - then one great way is to have poeple share the content, or "tweet to download". 

        Am I right in assuming your signature links to the site in question? In that case, a few pointers:
        - The content on each page is quite minimal - consider increasing the amount of explanation/synopsis text for each video. Less than X words : rest of the page ratio and google will mark your content as "low quality"
        - Remove those annoying chikita(?) context links. Little double underlined links personally shout spam site to me and many internet users. 
        - Another major problem is that your content pages are straight duplicate content. You don't get ranked for writing anything not original - apologies if this IS your original content and others are copying it, but it seems like a copy paste from video synopsis somewhere else. You *have* to write the synopsis/description yourself, or you simply aren't going to rank. 

        Other than, seems like you're doing ok. The meta tags etc are good, people are definintely sharing your content, so just need to address the points above. 

        Disclaimer: I'm not an "SEO professional" by trade, so what I say can only be taken as a product of my own experience and learning. No one can give exact advice on how to rank in Google, so bear that in mind.  

        Hope that helps!

  8. John
    July 29, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    How about signatures? For example sometimes comments are really related but there is a link at the signature to an unrelated website. Would it be spam, or how these kind of links effect the page ranking?

    • James Bruce
      July 29, 2011 at 9:26 pm

      By default, most blogs make signature links as NOFOLLOW, so google knows to ignore them. When a blog deliberately makes their signature links DOFOLLOW though, the URL is added to a list and circulated within spammer communities so everyone goes to post there. So in most case, it wont affect SEO, but I still personally delete them. 

      Sometimes these kind of comments (with "spam signatures") are posted automatically by comment spam app mentioned above - it's quite easy to find blog posts about Macs for example, and mass-post a generic "macs suck" or "windows is so much better" comment, and most will be accepted however unwillingly. Sometimes the comments *are* genuine, but the user still chose to spammy keywords and a link in their signature. Whether or not you choose to delete those is up to you really - here at MUO, we have a policy of deleting any comments with deliberatly spammy links in them - I don't have care how useful a comment it is, if the signature link is "insurance quotes" as a name, it's getting deleted. Linking to your own site is one thing, deliberately adjusting the name so it uses keywords is another. 

  9. James Bruce
    July 29, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Please refrain from posting the names of the software in the comments. It's a sure fire way to get yourselves banned. Even I have limits, and there is a reason I deliberately hid the names. 

    • Mark O'Neill
      August 1, 2011 at 10:28 am

      Just to echo James here. Anyone who posts the names of the software will get their comments deleted.  Do it a second time and we ban you permanently. We've had jokers on here trying to post the names several times and it won't be tolerated.

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