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2nd level of content just for search engines - legitimate?
irldonalb




msg:3502647
 11:26 am on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi,

The top 5 websites in my industry are complex DB driven website. Proper content is scarce as 95% of URLs get dropped a few days after they go live.

However to combat this problem, their SEO advisers have created an underlying content site off sub folders. The content is poor, clearly written for the Search Engines and not for the end user. Pages contain several embedded links to the homepage with different anchor text.

- Is this Black Hat SEO?
- Should Google penalise these websites?
- If yes to either of the above, when will Google catch up?

Thanks
Donal

 

tedster




msg:3502980
 6:39 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Obviously content that is written only for search engines goes against Google's guidelines. Will Google catch it and penalize it? That's impossible to predict - it might depend on a human review, but the current algo might catch excessive variety in the anchor text, too. Or it might sail on for years - like I said, impossible to predict.

piznac




msg:3502985
 6:42 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

How do you plan on showing the content to the se only?.. Cloaking? Yes this is blackhat. If not then you will have your bad content indexed? Im a bit confused on the method of delivery.

Robert Charlton




msg:3503025
 7:24 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Cloaking? Yes this is blackhat.

Agreed. Using these second level pages as doorway pages that redirect to regular content would also be blackhat.

...an underlying content site off sub folders

Another difficulty I see with this approach is that getting legitimate inbound links to this content is going to be difficult or impossible.

Check to see where the inbounds to these pages come from. If the pages get their inbounds only from their current homepages, they're going to be severely handicapped on phrases where external inbound links matter.

If they get their inbounds from the SEO company's network, they're likely to be discovered sooner or later. On anything competitive that will (now or later) require trusted inbounds, they're going to be handicapped.

The arrangement you describe is not a model for longterm success... but it might work in a limited way for a while.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 7:25 pm (utc) on Nov. 12, 2007]

irldonalb




msg:3503563
 10:38 am on Nov 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

How do you plan on showing the content to the se only?.. Cloaking? Yes this is blackhat.

Not quite cloaking; sorry if I mislead you. Most have a small text link in the footer. Itís the only way into these pages.

If not then you will have your bad content indexed

Agreed. They do have bad content indexed and these act as gateway pages. However they are ranked high and getting the visitors. Visitors land on these pages full of text. I believe most just click on one of many links to the main site.

they're going to be severely handicapped on phrases where external inbound links matter.

I'm not so sure. Isn't this similar to Grant's argument about Adobe appearing 3rd for "Financial Services" in the SEO Myths Thread [webmasterworld.com]. I don't mean to compare them to Adobe, but these pages are appearing for massive phrases and they have no external links to these pages.

Robert Charlton




msg:3504043
 7:37 pm on Nov 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

they're going to be severely handicapped on phrases where external inbound links matter.

I'm not so sure. Isn't this similar to Grant's argument about Adobe appearing 3rd for "Financial Services" in the SEO Myths Thread [webmasterworld.com]. I don't mean to compare them to Adobe, but these pages are appearing for massive phrases and they have no external links to these pages.

Grant's comments about Adobe's ranking for [financial services] don't necessarily apply here. Note that I said above: "where external inbound links matter." Sometimes they matter, and sometimes they don't.

I didn't say, "where topically relevant external inbound links matter," though, if I had, that wouldn't be changing the point I'm making. External inbounds may matter on some searches and not on others. As I've posted elsewhere, I think that topical relevancy may matter on some searches and not on others.

Grant's example, though, was an extremely bad one. Checking the Adobe Financial Services page on Yahoo Site Explorer, I see that it's got 274 external inbounds from other domains, including some clearly related to financial services.

The page is also fully integrated into the Adobe site. It shows 4,440 inlinks from adobe.com. Several of these are from PR10 pages, with anchor text reading "financial services" in the main nav.

This is not about some tiny little almost-hidden footer link giving it some PageRank... albeit, on the Adobe site, such a link from the home page might suffice for a great many searches.

...but these pages are appearing for massive phrases...

I can't tell how truly competitive these "massive phrases" are. I also don't know whether or not these top sites that you're talking about are 800 pound gorillas and how much "juice" those footer links might be transmitting.

For most sites, though, this kind of detached, low quality gateway approach isn't likely to be a good long term strategy.

Incidentally, are these top 5 competitors related to each other? The fact that they're all using the same strategy suggests that there is common ownership.

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