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15 very similar sites?
Monkscuba

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 10:21 am on Oct 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

After a friendly chat with a friend and competitor of ours, I went and checked up on another competitor. We knew he had a couple of sites, but my (quick) search has found 15 (and I'm pretty sure I could find more), all very similar, all selling the same thing, often with the same words, logos, pictures and all nicely linked together. Many have nice keyword domains and all have titles " keyword1 keyword2 keyword3 keyword4 etc...". I can't find any nasty hidden text or 1 pixel links or anything like that, but...

The sites are not actually very nice, but for some major search terms these sites sit in 5 or 6 of the top 10 rankings. I have been informed by a big operator that the owner of these sites is the No.1 agent for this market. We are all in a "travel related" field, where there are operators and agents. This one is a pure online agent and we don't like the fact that there are so many similar sites.

So, is this spam? Is it unethical? Is it just good business? Should we report these sites to Google? Or are we just jealous and wish that we had so many sites?

Or should I just shut up and get on with improving our site and making a new one?!

 

Brett_Tabke

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 10:58 am on Oct 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

Nah - not by most peoples estimation. There could be something different about each site. Targets a niche somehow.

karma - what goes around...

Monkscuba

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 11:18 am on Oct 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

All sites are selling the same thing and use the same text, maybe just a few words changed or in a different order, same logos, pictures - not all the same, but if I gave you all the URLs you'd see what I mean.

A friend told me last week that someone had already reported these sites. So do you think they'll be allowed to stay? Apart from the similarity, all have what I think is ecessive use of keyword in title, meta keywords, image alt tags, page text etc.. Sure the public can spot a spammy page, but as I say, these sites do get a lot of business

Brett_Tabke

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 11:26 am on Oct 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

If Google has a problem with it then, they'll take care of it. That type of setup is very common.

Ever thought of doing the same yourself? It's very legitimate if done right.

I have one old client that sells the same product nationwide. He does it on a state-by-state basis. Has 40 domains with all similar content, but the subcontent is all targeted at local niches.

rogerd

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 2:25 pm on Oct 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

Monkscuba, the line between domain spamming and legitimate domain targeting is often hard to draw. I'd say the deciding factor could be how these show up in search results - if they occupy eight of the top 10 spots for some searches, for example, Google would probably like that called to their attention - clearly, a surfer won't be happy with those results. To use Brett's example, if a search for "blue widgets" turns up "Alaska Blue Widgets", "Alabama Blue Widgets", etc., for the first five pages, all with mostly identical sites with common ownership, that would be a situation Google might look at. Many domain spammers got zapped by interlinkage patterns, but many others survived.

You can always report the situation to Google - nothing may happen, but you never know.

Jon12345

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 6:45 pm on Oct 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

How do these "spammers" hide their identity so that they cannot be traced as being the same company or owner of the domain name?

Jon

hiker_jjw

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 7:35 pm on Oct 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I recently interviewed with a company here in Sanford, FL that does a similar thing with several different domains. In fact, they are also in the travel buisness. Since they didn't hire me, I don't mind telling you what they do.

The key is to use different IP addresses to ensure that google views the content as different sites; you can NOT host 10 domains off of your basement computer. Place one domain on a server in India, one in the US, one in the UK, etc. This way, you'll look more Global as far as IP is concerned.

IMHO, Google needs to put a stop to these kinds of games. In my eyes, this IS SPAM. Any attempt to flood the top rankings with "near/similar" copies of a site is not good for the user or Google.

The search users need choices!

bjseiler

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 7:41 pm on Oct 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think the really tricky people also register the domain names under different addresses, names, emails, etc., each time as well. I think some search engines use that to try and weed out duplicates, so that is how they get around it. Seems like a pretty hard thing for the search engines to filter if they do have different content at each site.

Yidaki

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 7:52 pm on Oct 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

yeahhhh, some more tricks, please! Maybe there are some tricks that are still unknown to GG ... teach 'em ... i wish those sites get zapped. period. <added to clarify>if the sites take multiple top position for the same searches</added>

;)

rogerd

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 8:06 pm on Oct 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>if they do have different content at each site<<

If the sites have truly different content, then there shouldn't be a problem. They won't appear in the same SERPs, they won't trip duplicate content filters, etc. Unless they are used to manipulate PR through linkage schemes, there's not really a spam issue.

The impression I get, though, is that like the doorway pages of yore, when pages were identical except for keyword substitution, the domains Monkscuba is talking about are very close to identical.

Monkscuba

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 1:25 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yep, and I will write a spam report soon. From a different computer - it worries me that Google will trace where the report comes from.

If the sites all ranked badly, I'd not worry, BUT for the most important 3 word search in our area, these site occupy....wait for it...

6 of the top 10 (3,4,5,6,7,8)
14 of the top 20
20 of the top 30

My main gripe is that IT'S NOT FAIR!

And of course for the user, they just get the same site over and over.

rogerd

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 2:13 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>[searchers] just get the same site over and over<<

That's really the key issue, monkscuba. Fairness may or may not be relevant, but lousy search results are.

bjseiler

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 2:22 pm on Nov 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>if they do have different content at each site<<
If the sites have truly different content, then there shouldn't be a problem. They won't appear in the same SERPs, they won't trip duplicate content filters, etc. Unless they are used to manipulate PR through linkage schemes, there's not really a spam issue.

-----------------

Well, ok, here is an example. I am a dmoz editor for a mortgage related category and I have seen one person submit 10 different sites that all look fairly different, but they are obviously all going to the same company. Meaning, if john doe fills out a mortgage application on any one of the 15 sites, the app is sent to the same mortgage company. So, all 15 sites have some different content so should they all be considered ok for search results or is that spam?

That is what I was talking about really.

needhelp

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 1:42 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'm new to posting, but my opinion is that one company should have one domain and that's it. Keeps search results simple and clear. Otherwise, why don't we all start flooding the engines with domains all leading the searcher to the same company? Registering new domain names is so cheap now too. I know you will all say this is too simple, but I'm sick of seeing multiple domains in top 20 results all leading to the same company! GREEDY if you ask me. If I place once in top 10-20, I'm happy and that's the way it should be.

apays14

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 2:10 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Welcome Monkscuba or sorry needhelp?

Sounds to me like your upset because you lost pagerank. If someone can get in the top 10 with more then one site good for them. Maybe you should learn from your competitor instead of whining. My point is that you will do just fine if you focus on your sites and learn from everyone else.

MACK

Hawkgirl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 2:20 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

needhelp: in an ideal world, your idea of
If I place once in top 10-20, I'm happy and that's the way it should be

would be great.

But think about the numbers from a business point of view.

Say that for first-time visitors to a set of results you have the following click through percentages by keyword:

Position 1 - 55%
Position 2 - 20%
Position 3 - 10%
Position 4 - 5%
Position 5 - 3%
Position 6 - 1%
Position 7 - 1%
Positions 8 through 1 billion - 5%

Why would I be happy with being the site in position 3 (10% of clicks) when I can be the sites in positions 2, 3, and 5 (33% of clicks)?

That's a very simplistic (not to mention inaccurate) explanation as to why this kind of thing happens - it boils down to the numbers. Customers, leads, sales, visitors.

This is a great group of people to learn from - try not to get too frustrated by what is happening in the SEs and take the knowledge you learn here to improve your position as best you can. :)

needhelp

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 2:26 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

That's what my friends say, do what they're all doing and forget about ethics. Especially since they aren't being penalized anyway. So, shall I go ahead and use all the borderline tricks that my competitors are using to rank well? It's easy enough (I know exactly what they are up to), but is it ethical? I guess a person could go bankrupt "whining" about ethics! ;-) By the way, my ranks have gone up in the last crawl - but I know there are other ethical folks out there being out-ranked unfairly. I guess I was trying to speak for them (I used to be one of them indeed!)

chiyo

WebmasterWorld Senior Member chiyo us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 3:30 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

problem with ethics (or "fairness" which seems to be used as a synonym by many) is it's subjective. What to one person is ethical to another is not.

I work in countries where homosexuality or blasphemy is viewed as worse than murder in legal courts. In some Western countries the former is seen as legal and ethical.

Brett is right. Karma is key. Ethics is defined culturally and from a certain point of view. Just do what you are comfortable with and if enough people who are affected or care AND have a position of influence or strength dont like it, (read Google!) you will get dumped, ethics or not! Ethics runs a poor second to pragmatic business realities.

needhelp

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 6:00 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

chiyo,

i read the first part of the reply to mean that i should go with my gut and google does care and will dump spammers, but then you say that ethics is second to business (read $$). As you seem to know what you're talking about, can you clarify? Thanks, I'm really trying hard to understand this crazy web world!

born2drv

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 6:16 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think the only way to combat this problem is by using the smiley guys :) and :(

Google should let surfers know to use these guys to say how pleased they are with sites in SERPS. It could then correlate what % of surfers liked certain sites for certain SERPS. If the # exceeds a certain amount, a manual hand check is done.

If the surfer is a webmaster and clicking on the smileys to trigger a spam check on their competitor, and it turns out to be a false-alarm, it would ignore this user for the future. I think this could easily be implimented with Google's toolbar (if it's not already).

percentages

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 6:52 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

It is really very simple. Look at HawkGirl's post....which is not far out from what I see. 99%+ for pos 1...5% for pos 10....1% for pos 20+. Will be different in all cats, but the logarithmic theory is good.

Then ask yourself....Am I in this for money or as a way to pass the time away?

Assuming you want the money you will do anything and everything possible to make sure you are at the top and in quantity. I have many cats where I hold the top 10 places...is this unethical....call it that way if you wish....but I have your revenue! No shame.....huge bank balance is the rule to follow.

If your site is a hobby then why worry about being at the top? The Internet is a commercial FFA product.

If you are serious about making money you will register 50 domain names ASAP, create 50 sites with different content, get 50 sets of backlinks to them and hopefully have 50 money making machines.

If you lose some of the sites you register because other folk report you....who cares? Create a few more and a month later you have them back again. Domain names are $8 a piece, hosting is so cheap compared with returns it is irrelevant.

This is not a game for the ethical (at least if they want to make money)....it is a cut-throat game for the folks that want to win;)

You can rarely win a game when someone else sets the rules. Make up your own rules and change them as the competition or the SE's try to combat them.

The Yanks always want to be right behind the 8 ball.....my advise......be in front of it!

Beachboy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 7:04 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Percentages: SHHHHHHHHHHHH!

coconutz

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 7:16 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yep, and I will write a spam report soon. From a different computer-it worries me that Google will trace where the report comes from.

You could be putting your site(s) under scrutiny as well as the "friend and competitor" you were talking with. If I had near duplicate sites, I'd think twice about a spam report. ;)

hiker_jjw

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 7:44 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Un-ethical is clearly defined by Google at
[google.com...]
anything and everything else is fair game.

But, I too wouldn't mind seeing a few things added to the "Don't"s list to ensure that "us small guys" can make a living too. :)

Question:
If a big company came into your town and placed a gas-station on each and every corner, but in the process ran your gas-station out of business, would that be un-ethical?

It's very similar to that same company making Web sites for 100 different geographical regions. You're just filling up all the street corners. One of the big difference I see between the Internet and the real world is that companies can afford it on the Internet.

Cheers

percentages

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 8:04 am on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

hiker_jjw, If I opened 100 gas stations in your town, would you buy gas from me because I offered a lower price, better marketing and improved customer service?

I suspect you would....so if I do the same on the Internet I expect the same result. You are right that it is cheaper to do it on the net....but it may not remain that way forever.

Go to your local mall and see how many stores are owned by the same parent company. Is this fair?....well that depends on the individuals point of view.

If you believe in a free market capitolist system then fair doesn't play a big part in the overall result.

The small guys can compete, they do it by moving faster and better than the big guys.

Jon12345

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 2:56 pm on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Can someone here give some examples of companies who are spamming the google index, taking several top positions?

What are the keywords and who are the companies?

Thanks,

Jon

msgraph

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 3:00 pm on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Sorry Jon but that kind of information can't be posted on this forum.

We strive to stay away from the spam reporting business and leave that up to the site people and search engines themselves.

Jon12345

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 3:18 pm on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

I didn't mean for reporting purposes. Perhaps someone could private message me an example? I am not looking to get anyone in trouble here.

hiker_jjw

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 6:49 pm on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

percentages,

I think we may have gotten off subject some. I'm not sure if you realize which side of the game I'm playing on. :) I'm for anything that Google doesn't list in the "Don't"s. I just wish I had the money to do what the big companies are doing.

When big companies get out of line, isn't it the responsibility of the US Government to step in and change things? Isn't this what happend to Microsoft and it's monopoly with their OS / Browser combo?

Is it then right to say that the Internet needs an authoritative figure/identity to step up and put a stop these unfair practices? Or should the responsibility weigh on the shoulders of Google?

rogerd

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 6460 posted 7:01 pm on Nov 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Go to your local mall and see how many stores are owned by the same parent company.

I think the key distinction is that those stores all have unique "content". It doesn't really matter (to me, anyway) if a shoe store and a hardware store both are divisions Megaconglomerate, Inc. OTOH, if I walked into three different storefronts in a row and found that once I walked through the door I was in the same store every time, you can be sure I'd be complaining to the managers of the mall.

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