The End of MFA Era?

Jennifer Slegg of Jensense has posted yesterday about one change in Google AdWords that we will soon see:

… Google will begin listing all publisher websites where AdWords advertiser’s ads are being run

Her post explains clearly what this change will mean for advertisers, and evidently from the point of view of an AdWords advertiser it’s a good change. However, what does it mean for those blackhats whose primary business model is based on MFA sites?

Evidently, this can become the end of this business model. But his change means much more. By many estimates, about 80% of the web today is spam sites, and I guess it will be safe to say that a huge part of these are MFA sites. Why? Because, depending on a spammer’s setup and automation level, it takes anywhere from 20 to 2000% less effort to build a blackhat MFA site than it takes to build a proper legitimate whitehat site. By killing off the current scheme, Google risks to lose up to 80% of its current publisher network.

Actually, just how bad are MFA sites? With many of them pursuing the long tail, the traffic they get is extremely targeted. All Google has to do is properly target the ads displayed on a site – and there we go. Google is happy, the advertiser is happy, and the blackhat owner of the MFA site is happy as well.

By killing off the current AdSense publishing model, Google will not solve the spam problem in its SERPs, as some might expect. Having tasted the easy way to make money with BH, hardly will a webmaster go back to whitehat slow process. Rather, they will switch to affiliate monetisation scheme – and it is the affiliate market that is the most aggressive, if we compare the two. It is with affiliate sites that people employ cloaking, misleading (for the visitors and Google) redirects, much larger volumes, etc. Force half the blackhats currently doing MFA sites to move into affiliate, and things will become even worse and more aggressive.

What will the MFA webmasters do once the change is implemented by Google and they start feeling its effect? Some will leave the scene – either for good or for affiliate model, like I said. Others will find ways to beautify their MFA sites enough to trick the advertisers into leaving them in theri list of sites where their ads are displayed – thus maybe even making them grayhat rather than the darkest shade of black. As for those combining both models currently, placing AdSense ads alongside with affiliate ads – I would stop doing it, depending on the quality of the site. Google’s listing of AdSense publishing sites may lead to increased (undesired) exposure of your affiliate sites – which can harm the affiliate side of things.


  1. Febuary 27th 2007 marks the end of the official BlackHat Era for me. I’m calling it quits.

    Its been a nice long ride while it lasted.

    Thank you.