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New and successful trick for google?

 6:37 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

My apologies if this has been discussed somewhere on these forums already .. but I could not find it.

What I have seen is infact such a powerful trick that a site is dominating on a huge number of serps on google by using only the trick and nothing else.
This trick is actually similar to good old doorway pages but with a difference .. and this difference makes it so powerful.

What they are doing

1) Put a search box on their site.
2) Get some seed traffic and let the users try to search on their site.
3) Save keyword combinations used in these searches in their database.
4) Next time a user searches with similar set of keywords,
they are provided the current combination as a "related searches" links on the page.
(Like altavista)

The Trick

The purpose of search box is to get users to enter keywords and then use those keywords as a feed for creating highly targeted doorways with urls like - xyz.com/b/a/ss_keyword1_keyword2.html

the title of the page is "keyword1 keyword2 - comparison shopping for X"

The page only says

"keyword1 keyword2 did not match any thing on our site .. here are some of the related keyword searches which users have made on the site"

this is followed by links of "related searches" which also lead to pages as above with only difference being "keyword2 keyword3" instead of "keyword1 keyword2".

This obviously is a script generated page masqurading as static html which is not very difficult to create.

My take on this

What begins with an innocent search by a user on xyz.com .. ends up becoming a highly targeted doorway with
1) keywords in anchor text from other pages linking to it.
2) keywords in title.
3) keywords in top body of the page (even though it only says keyword1 keyword2 did not match any thing).
4) keywords in the url of the page.

5) And the best part:

This new page is automatically linked to some of the "related searches" and in turn links to some of its "related searches".

This becomes a web of doorway pages which are linked to each other by common keywords...and may qualify as "good themes" too.

The trick might be simple but the number of pages one can get into the search engine by this is potentially colossal. All you need to start is to write a few scripts and bring your keyword database to a critcal mass...once that is reached .. it begins self sustaining with users coming and searching newer combinations and system responds by generating more pages and links which spiders follow and index.

It is as if the site is constantly evolving to add thousands of spider friendly pages which are on "theme" every day.



 7:13 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've seen some similar things, but
not implemented quite as well.

I agree that it's catching on.

Could you sticky-mail me that site as well?

I'd be curious to see it.



 7:34 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

The idea of publishing doorways without content has been discussed here pretty often, but using site search data is a very sensible approach.

Seeing what language your visitors use, and also what areas of interest aren't well covered in the site is SEO gold dust.


 7:35 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ok sent an example SERP along with the site in quesion in the stickies.



 7:53 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Folks, a polite request to please sticky jaski direct for the URL if you wish rather than post "sticky me please" in the thread.

As Ciml says, one of the best ways to determine what additional content to add to your site is by garnering information from your users which includes referral logs, search logs, and so on. We all know this.

The ways that information can be used however are many and varied, from handwriting new content pages to automated scripts that generate new pages on the fly. With the latter though it can get out of hand and there has to be a line over which the Engines say "Enough". Where that line is is open to conjecture so please be careful if implementing auto scripts.



 8:03 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Seeing what language your visitors use, and also what areas of interest aren't well covered in the site is SEO gold dust.

Yes :) .. but a trick like this can be an uncontrolled chain reaction as Woz rightly pointed out. I wonder how long a search engine can tolerate this. But it might be difficult for search engines to create filters for this .. I think it needs very high sophistication on their part for tackling this evolved and mutant variant of spam.. weed out by hand will not be practical on Google scale.


 9:32 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi Jaski I agree with you. I was wondering about the same issue yesterday when i wanted some information on a Sony Handycam and other electronics products. Then i read your post today and thought maybe you had another example. But it turned out to be the same website. I think they are coming up for most of electronic items search. What i fail to understand is the motive behind this move. What are they going to achieve? I as a user was frustrated when i was not getting the info i wanted on their website. I think the same applies for their other users.


 9:44 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)


I could not agree with you more. I reckon we all know who we are dealing with and every dance I see it get worse and worse. I have site that is slowly getting shafted by two similar sites doing this and more often than not, they don't even sell these products! Put it this way, if I am searching for something in particular I don't want some shoddy review or price comparison everytime!


 10:00 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

What are they going to achieve?

mil2k they are getting highly targeted traffic for free .. you might have seen all the banners on their site .. and also the stuff they themselves sell .. I am sure they can and are achieving quite a bit ;)


 10:10 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you knew how the site made its money then believe me they are doing very nicely indeed! I take my hat off to them for an astonishing piece of marketing, subtle variation on spam techniques, and for annoying me no end!


 10:23 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've seen these pages too. but what I wonder is how they get google to index these pages. the only way i know of is by having a link to the page in question - but that could not be the case here, or could it?

Maby a spam report would make google react?



 10:31 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

What could they achieve

The thing which i remember of that site is that every time i went there i found that i was not getting the results for which i was going into the site for the first place. Hence i remember ignoring the site altogether in other search results. Now if those guys have some genuine products and those come in serps i will still ignore them bcoz i am not sure and i don't want to waste my time. It reminds me a little bit of the mentality of putting adult kws on your pages and getting traffic. But are those traffic targeted? In this case a little bit targetted bcoz all are searching electronic products. But getting traffic for products which you don't have is a bit out of my perception.


 11:46 am on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

i've seen a lot of pages like this, butI dont see the problem with it, if they have the content, who are they to hide it. If the content is there and the search engines cant get to it why should they keep it hidden. I'd just say that its good SEO...

Let me use that old axiom; If you have higher positions than your competitors its good SEO, but if your competitors have higher positions than you its spam.


 12:25 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

That reasoning doesn't stand. If I search for a specific product then thats what I expect to find especially if it is occupying the number one slot! What this site is doing is creating pages based on previous search terms but instead of giving you what you want it simply states " This is what you were looking for, unfortunately we don't do that product, but we do do this..." Now whichever way you want to spin it that is spam. How can people complain about traditional spam techniques e.g. hidden text, if that at least brings you to a relevant page. These guys are spamming by showing up for something they don't do but then offering an alternative! Lets ask GoogleGuy what his thoughts are on this type of so called "SEO"


 12:26 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

If the content is there and the search engines cant get to it why should they keep it hidden.

We are talking here of a website coming in top 3 for content which it does not have. This is Spamming in my book. And i am not competeting with this website in any way. Please stop making statements if you are not aware of the discussion in this thread.


 1:01 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Let me use that old axiom; If you have higher positions than your competitors its good SEO, but if your competitors have higher positions than you its spam.

That "old axiom" is nonsense--not just from a non-spammer's point of view, but also from Google's. (If Google didn't believe in the existence of spam, it wouldn't have Webmaster guidelines and a report for reporting spam.)


 1:08 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Remember what I said a few messages ago - "Where that line is is open to conjecture". Everybody's definitions of spam is different, so lets not go attacking each other on that score please.

What they are doing is using their data intelligently to produce new pages for engines and people alike. However, in my opinion, they could have put some more thought into it to make sure there was more content on each page. Going from search page to search page with suggestions but no real results simply becomes frustrating.

Perhaps there is an opportunity to learn here and discuss how the process could be used to better effect. Suggestions anyone?



 1:46 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

"What they are doing is using their data intelligently"

Totally agree. They are just misusing an otherwise excellent startegy.

[edited by: robertito62 at 3:58 pm (utc) on April 25, 2003]


 1:55 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

How does Google find the static pages that are being auto-generated?

It appears that links to the auto-generated pages only appear on search result pages that require a human to enter an initial query.


 3:10 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

There is no question that what these guys are doing is "SPAM" If I do a search on their site (call it site X) for a specific product e.g. widgets, they throw up results saying sorry we don't do that but how about this or that which are similar. Great! They are using their data within their own site to cross-sell, no problem. If now knowing they don't sell widgets they then create a page based on widgets (auto generated into widgets.html) which subsequently gets indexed into the public domain of search engines. Now you have the scenario where Joe Bloggs searches for widgets, site X tops the serps so you take a look and get "Sorry, you wanted widgets but we don't do them, nevermind I am sure in our greater wisdom you would prefer these alternatives." Multiply this effect 100's perhaps 1000's of times and you now have major SPAM job in effect. This site is huge (Pan European) and it is getting away with it.

Call me old fashioned but I would much rather click on a site that has what I searched for, may have used a little hidden text to get a top 5 position, but it is at the end of the day what I wanted i.e. relevant content.

I must admit this one is close to me because Site X is kicking me in the nads more and more each Google update! Why don't we all play along? I know there are people out there who want say Gucci sunglasses. Why not create a page all about Gucci sunglasses so that when people click on it I can say "We don't do them! Nevermind old chap, you don't want that anyway, you want the Calvin Kline sunglasses!" Seems like a winner to me....er, I mean SPAMMMER!


 3:27 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

This way is very bad way to get traffic ...
But the idea is brilliant.

You just gave me an idea of how to create successfull online store and to link the pages. I have database of about 100000 products and I will link related pages, by means of related searches. So user searches to cameras will also see the related products to buy :)

Great idea if you have the content or the products to attach it to, but not just empty pages.


 3:36 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've looked at the site now for hours and this seems to be Good SEO. The script does make it easier for the user to shop for the product they are looking for both on and off the site.

Making sites easy to use should be all our aims.

As far as the site's owner, if he is smart enough to build this script then surley he is smart enough to fine tune the pages with products and add more products based on his logs and SERP's.

This is good marketing and not spam in my mind. I would love to have this script on one of my shopping sites.


 4:03 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have a similar example of a site that is well-ranked in categories I'm familiar with. The site displays actual search engine results for the keywords, therefore generating a very keyword-rich page since all of the meta-quotes have these words highlighted. As pointed out, it works wonders.

The site I know about then simply cloaks the results-- Google sees the search engine list of other sites and real visitors are re-directed to an *entirely unrelated site* that does not sell anything that the user was looking for. I sent this in as a SPAM report, with my nick and Attn: Googleguy attached, sometime last week. Not that I'm expecting immediate attention, but this is not a small, isolated problem. They currently have 20,300 page listings in Google that are nothing but targetted keyword cloaking junk. I don't think anyone can argue that this should be removed since the redirect does not even go to a related topic.


 4:09 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Mil2K: While a site having pages for things it doesn't have could be annoying, that isn't SPAM, that is very good SEO to generate traffic, which can be then resold to pay per click engines that like this sort of thing (as an example). It wouldn't be hard with features of amazon, as an example, to pull relevant searches from them to fill in the pages. Now do they have the product or not?

Just being good at getting traffic in general isn't spam, IMHO... it isn't real nice, but it doesn't redirect the surfer, it doesn't have hidden text, and it isn't misleading the googlebot... so how could it be spam?



 5:54 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm a direct competitor (in Spanish) of the "spamming site" this thread talks about.

I've found that for exact searches (well typed widget name) we are always better positioned than them, but if the user misplaces some letter or forgets part of the exact widget name, they position better than us. Worst of all is that they only provide liks to shops where these widgets are sold, while we provide not only links to shops but also deeper information (technical details, reviews, user opinions...).

As a consequence, although our users conversion rates in the shops we link to are a lot better than theirs, their cpc is lower than ours. This is a problem, because when we speak with shop owners, most times they only use the cpc as a reference to pay to one site or another.


 6:10 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think the main complaint against this technique is that it seems almost viral and infinitely self-expanding. If left to mature, it could cover nearly every topic and every search term. Some companies, like the site I know about, will not be so ethical in using these rankings and will freely cloak and redirect the surfer where they want.


 6:27 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

CCowboy & RawAlex, basically what you are saying is this.

1. Good SEO is optimizing a page for widgets with no tricks or cloaks, getting the top slot in the serps, user clicks through doesn't find widgets because they don't even sell widgets but that doesn't matter because it is too late now, they have clicked through so why not offer something completely different.

2. Bad SEO is optimizing a site for widgets (maybe with a little hidden text, not keyword stuffing), getting the top slot in the serps, user clicks through finds exactly what it said on the tin and is pretty much satisfied.

While I do not advocate the use of hidden text, bla bla bla, I know which results I would prefer to see come up. If I enter a search term, I don't want to click through and get "SORRY WE DON'T DO THAT" when you just said you did in the serps!

Ok if it is not SPAM then it is deception, cheating, misleading call it what you want! An extreme example would be search for widgets and you end up clicking through to porn. We have all seen that before! This is exactly the same business model albeit based on inert content but still using a highly commercial formula of get traffic in at any cost even if dilutes the quality of search results and ultimately misleads the user.


 6:38 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Fleapit, ya see, that's the problem - it is the difference between breaking the rules and maximizing to the rules.

Is a DMOZ category with all dead sites a better link that this? Nope.

As long as these people are not using 404's, redirects, and other tricks to move surfers around, I don't think there is anything that is obviously wrong about it. It isn't going to give great pages (unless they add content, amazon book referals, whatever), but the pages are what they are. It is VERY borderline, I will agree, but can you find me anything in the google guidelines that says this isn't permitted?



 6:50 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ok here is my dilemma...

I sell Calvin Kline sunglasses. Great price, easy site to use, fast delivery. I don't sell Gucci sunglasses... I know people have and are searching for Gucci sunglasses therefore even though I don't sell them why not optimise a page which suggests that I do. I can get a high position in the serps and generate a lot of traffic. What I can't do is sell them Gucci sunglasses but I guess that doesn't matter because all I want is the traffic to bolster my audience. Now I have that audience I simply say, "You wanted Gucci sunglasses, I said I have them, actually I don't, ok I am a liar but nevermind check out these cool Calvin Kline sunglasses."

Your right it is not SPAM by the classic definition, compared to a lot of spam it is much worse.


 7:04 pm on Apr 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

OK here is my dilemma..

You sell Calvin Klein sunglasses. You'd like to draw people in that are also looking for Gucci sunglasses, even though you don't sell those. When a visitor hits your viral SER-replication engine as described here, they find your listings. Since they don't find what they want, they type in more search terms into your custom search box.

Great for you! You got a visitor and they're increasing your viral SER-replicator database with more terms!

They enter: "sunglass repair kit"

Uh oh, you don't sell those either.. yet your system now makes a page for "Sunglass Repair Kit" and people start coming to that result.

Now someone types "tire repair kit" into Google. Maybe you're on page 1, maybe they scroll down another page. They go to your Sunglass shop which has absolutely nothing to do with tire repair. What the heck? So they type another term into your box.. "tirejacks and spare tires"...... and so on continues your SER-replication.

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