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Buying Many Domain Names to Rank Well with Google

 11:00 pm on Mar 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have noticed a new trend in my industry, and it's been driving me crazy. I was wondering if anyone else is noticing the same thing I am.

Our company sells widgets. We sell just about any widget you can think of. Blue widgets, Red widgets, Pink widgets, and even different sizes of all these widgets. All our competitors sell these same widgets as well.

So, what I've been noticing more and more lately is our competitors buying domain names to make it seem like their sole business is in selling a certain widget. For example, one might be www.bluewidget.com, or www.largebluewidgets.com.

They don't even try to hide it either. Most the time they use the same design as their regular site, same numbers and contacts, only on the category specific site, they are only selling the blue widgets, or the large blue widgets.

It seems that these quick popup sites are getting better and better rankings. And it seems like they are popping up more and more.

So my question is, has anyone else noticed this happening in their industry?

I've always tried to play by the rules, but it seems like rules are more and more being thrown out the window. Should I be following them in this trend?

If there's nothing to stop website owners from buying domain names that cover a whole category, what's to stop them from buying a domain for each product they have? Or is that next?

In my industry, this is getting out of control.



 1:34 am on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I am involved in doing just as you say...I have bought thousands of domains and they get indexed and come up in the SERP's for their long tail phrases and on these sites I link them to a "main" site. The way I look at it is $3.95 for a year is a lot better than AdWords at $39.95/day for these long tail phrases and obviously these websites are providing "relevance" signals to Google because or main sites jump in SERP's as well for the targeted phrases. I used to spend about a half million dollars in advertising and started to see the ROI drop significantly so I switched perspective and took advantage of the fact that Google uses the domain name as a ranking factor. Try it out, buy a few long tail phrased domains and use them as a sort of advertising page to link to your main sites content. It works wonders! Not only does Google like it but so does MSN/Live.


 2:18 am on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Bugsy2334, I never thought about this concept. As long as the newly purchased domains feature quality content, I'm not sure if I would have a problem with it.

But I agree, it sounds a little spammy. Does it provide a publisher with an unfair inbound link and anchor text advantage?


 2:42 am on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've noticed the same thing in the industry I'm focused on. One of our competitors has over 100 sites! Blows my mind that they all rank well when they all have the same phone number! How the heck do they answer the phone with so many "company" names and sites?


 2:51 am on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

MLHmptn - I can tell from search results that google loves this technique. I just think it's filling up the results with junk, and I'm thinking that eventually google will catch on and penalize for trying to manipulate like this.

We actually tried doing something like this 4-5 years ago and it worked ok. It just got hard to maintain all the site, plus I figured google would frown upon it. Now I'm not so sure.

thinker - The newly purchased domains do feature quality content, but it's not much different than the owners main site would have. They just change it up a bit so it doesn't look like duplicate content.

The advantage it gives the publisher is that google seems to rank domain names that have the search phrase in it, higher than other domain names.

My industry has over 800,000 products. Theoretically, I could purchase a domain name that has the key words for each product, and I could rank pretty well with google for those terms. If google allows this, their product will quickly turn to crap.


 2:53 am on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Bewenched - I agree. And what does the customer think when the phone is answered and they hear a different company name than what they see on the site. I just don't get it, and I don't understand how Google hasn't caught on to this.


 3:01 am on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

We have started doing this ourselves and it works out very well. Just put the same company logo on each site and you end up branding different divisions. Look at some large manufacturers and you will see they do it with different divisions of their companies. Think about it, if you sell 100,000 products online is it easier to target all the keywords on one large site or 100 smaller sites where keywords are in the domain name? Either way, if you have a business set up to handle all the sites it is very profitable.

Google has not frowned on us doing it because we have different content on different sites and we keep the cross linking to a minimal.


 5:00 am on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I used this practice around 2 years back on one of my client site whose main aim to capture the page #1.

There we created 15 domains (all unique IP) with the most important keywords in the domain name. The result after around 8-9 months of SEO was that we were capturing 7 out of top 10 organic positions for 9 important keywords. Also, with PPC 4 positions were blocked on the first page including the top 3 position. And these keywords were attracting really high competition.

I guess it worked really well and till today all those sites rank well, though not with the same authority as all competitors are also jumped into the race.


 5:29 am on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

MLHmptn - I can tell from search results that google loves this technique. I just think it's filling up the results with junk, and I'm thinking that eventually google will catch on and penalize for trying to manipulate like this.

I think I would simply call these advertising pages, nothing more. These sites have our name on them so they know what our company name is and honestly I don't know why Google would frown on it because it's simply another form of advertising without the high price tag of adwords and/or YSM. We don't list more than twice on the main SERP's page either so we're not spamming the results and obviously both results are relevant or they wouldn't be in the top 10. I can understand it being spammy if we did have results 1-7 but that is not our intent. We target a long tail phrase and make unique content on the advertising site with "buy now" links pointing to our main site's product information page and because we don't want Google to think they are spam we made adjustments to all of the sites by "no-following" the links to our main site so we're not inflating our inbound anchor text per Google's standards. Also all of these advertising sites are not on unique IP's they are all on the same shared IP. When you run your own dedicated server and you can have unlimited domains why not take advantage of it? Hopefully our main site never gets penalized by this but luckily it is only one of our sites that we do this with. This particular site only has about 1800 products on it so we make these advertising pages for the different terms that provide high traffic and not the keywords that drive minimal traffic. Quite honestly, my competitors are doing just this as well when they have affiliate sites pointing to them with their affiliate_id's in the URL. Simply put, we are making our own affiliate network minus the affiliate payout! :>~

The biggest name in e-commerce does this very thing in masses! I'll give you a clue...AM#$ON.

[edited by: MLHmptn at 5:35 am (utc) on Mar. 20, 2009]


 5:59 am on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Works well if you keep cross linking to a minimum, and develop inbound links from a wider range (and less shared) resources.


 6:43 am on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think Bugsy is right. Google has a long history of eventually catching on then all heck breaks loose. Ultimately I think it's very risky.


 8:00 am on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's just doorway pages revisited, only now as "doorway domains".

I have found that these doorway domains tend to start ranking better as they age, regardless of toolbar PR. As a web user I think there is nothing wrong with these microsites as long as they offer real and original content.

It's the MFA and scraper sites that are the real problem. Until Google deals with the spammy type sites "doorway domains" are here to stay.


 9:27 am on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

If you were running a search engine, would you want your pages filled with results coming from the same company, offering the same content/products, even if on different domains?
If it works today it doesn't mean it's a good idea.
Google changes often and it's pretty clear they're always testing new ways to "differentiate" serps.

I wouldn't be surprised if the good results achieved with this method would be gone tomorrow.


 9:39 am on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

well this technique is often used to suppoort the main site since these are simply best links - one way links from sites that are on same topic.
Now just a matter of making the links look "natural"


 2:46 pm on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

This contravenes Google's webmaster guidelines.

"Avoid doorway pages created just for search engines"

"Doorway pages are typically large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase. In many cases, doorway pages are written to rank for a particular phrase and then funnel users to a single destination."

"Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content."

I do see it working well for lots of businesses though.

You'd think it would be a relatively easy thing to identify and deal with, unless of course you use images/iframes to hide the common contact details. But even then Google has access to registrations and should be able to spot networks.


 2:59 pm on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I understand that it's just another way of "advertising", and that it's a way of managing smaller niches, but I still don't think it's right.

If the people who are doing this technique are successful, what is stopping you from buying domain names for each individual product you have, and really target exact keywords? That way if someone searches for "Large blue widget with green widget on top", your domain www.largebluewidgetgreenwidgetontop.com will come up #1.

My problem is that I work at my family's business, I wear multiple hats. I don't have time to manage multiple sites. I'd love to buy hundreds of domain names, and target specific categories. But I don't have time.

I don't want to say it's not fair that other companies are doing this, because I understand business is cut throat, and you do what you can to get ahead. But is that what search results are going to come down to? Is every search you do going to end up giving you results that land you on a site that only shows the product you were looking for. To me it seems like that's where things are headed.


 3:13 pm on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Also, if people are using these domain names as a form of advertising, wouldn't it be in Googles best interest to stop this technique. I would think they would eventually catch on because they'd prefer you using adwords rather than creating these keyword specific websites.


 3:28 pm on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

if people are using these domain names as a form of advertising, wouldn't it be in Googles best interest to stop this technique.

Not if they are running Adsense on these sites. I tend to think about the long-term. How long do you think G will keep these sites on the first page? Is it worth your time, effort, and money to do the same thing? I can't really say, since I don't know your niche or the content on these sites. Personally, I wouldn't bother setting up a link farm that could in the long run hurt your main site.

Current trends seem to show big brands poping to the top of the serps.


 8:39 pm on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

The key is different content, different products, etc... Think of it as micro websites.


 10:25 pm on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

exactly, if the microsites deliver value why not to let the PR flow?
The important part is to make the micro sites have at least a bit of quality.


 6:08 pm on Mar 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Ultimately I think it's very risky.

Possibly if one tries to hide or deceive the visitor they may get a manually applied penalty.

I first started the strategy of quality micro sites more than 10 years ago, it has been very successful across all search engines, even Yahoo!

I use the same company template layout and navigation for all sites which makes it easy for users as they cross from .com to co.uk to .cn etc and also from widget site to widget site etc. Some of my microsites are 100% to one specific widget for the most popular widgets.

Using a standard layout also makes it easier to create a new widget site plus, and I have been told this many times, that it gives the new business visitor confidence that we are not trying to hide behind many different facades, we are seen to be very trustworthy.

Of course it does help that we actually are one of the main global players within our widget trade but even after 15 years online it still surprises us when people say they have never heard of us or even seen our sites!


 1:49 pm on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

Not another one of these threads....

Let your competition buy multiple domains while you stick with one. While they spend a lot of energy generating content for multiple sites you can spend the same amount making your ONE site that much bigger and better.

Nascar team owners have had this discussion too, in the past some have owned multiple teams, but in the end giving 100% to your main site/team always pays off.

With any luck your competition will implode when they go too far and Google yanks the chains.


 2:09 pm on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm generally with JS on this.

That said, the sheer disposibility of the micro-sites is attractive. You can remove all reference from your own site, leaving it effectively orphaned. However, it will still remain live (hosting fees aside), lending you link equity and whatever other authority it had.

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