Happydog commented on a spam post (since deleted) where a multi-paragraph article on WWI was followed by a link to a Colorado law firm:
This is about the weirdest spam I’ve ever seen. I’m sure these lawyers have no idea the people they hired to get them traffic are idiots.
This type of spam is not about getting people to click on the links. It’s an attempt to associate the links with popular web sites. (Wordorigins.org is not especially heavily trafficked, but it gets a respectable number of readers each month.) The aim is to boost search engine ratings, not get click-throughs. In this case, the topic of WWI, undoubtedly cut from another site and pasted here, was probably chosen because of the recent thread on the term “world war.” It’s all automated; no humans involved.
Google has pretty good algorithms to discount this type of spam in its rankings. Other search engines probably don’t. I don’t know how effective the practice actually is, but I’m guessing that it does have an impact on the margins.
(Note: if you want to comment on spam, start a new thread in the meta discussion. If you comment on the spam thread itself, the comment will disappear when I delete the original spam post.)