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My industry is extremely competitive and there has recently been a surge of duplicated, mirrored sites popping up at the top of the serps. It really makes me mad to see that these new SPAM SPAM SPAM sites havent been affected by the new update while my pages have been bumbped down 6- 9 pages.
I have spent the last 3 years buliding up a quality site with masses of good content and a fair link exchange program, which does not ever wander far from my main theme.
The most effective spam technique that I have noticed a few competitors using is link exchange. What they are doing is setting up multiple link pages on their sites(different titles and descriptions) and then swopping 20 -30 links at a time with other sites, getting these sites to include keyword rich text links pointing to 20-30 of their different pages. Their reciprocal links pages are all IDENTICAL(they dont even point to different parts of the reciprocal linkers site but rather to the same page 30 TIMES). Another thing - most of these links are completely OFF THEME. One site in particuar has been doing this for a long time now and they have succesfully managed to get their results to TOP POSITION for many of the most competive keywords. On top of that they have duplicate and mirrored sites that also hold top 10 positions and they are using the same techniques with these sites.
With this update - myself along with many other fair competitors have been bumped down significantly while this spam competitor has,nt even budged from the number 1 position - neither have the dupe sites been affected. Go figure?
I did however notice that with the previous months update their DUPLICATE links pages all got the "whiteout" toolbar penalty, but this had NO affect on their rankings at all.
If this continues then I will have no other choice but to employ similar tactics just to SURVIVE.
Worst of all is the newbies that are getting wind of this tactic.
How can I expose these spammers?
I understand your frustration, but that's the worst avenue to take. If you employ the same tactics they do to survive short term, those same tactics will sign your site's death certificate in the long term. If anything is clear after this last update it is that Google will take steps to stop what they consider undue influence on their SERPS.
Rather than go head to head with your competition, take a good look at the less competitive terms they aren't optimizing for and target them. For clients that have terms that are highly competitive I start by targeting less competitive terms that are focused. Usually high rankings for these terms come quite easily and with a broader base of key phrases I can get traffic that equals the traffic of the competition simply by adding additional relevant content. After I develop traffic that converts I can relax and work on the more competitive terms. The stiffer the competition the more time it takes but I can sleep at night knowing that Google isn't going to wipe out my client's rankings because I used a questionable tactic.
Closely examine your logs and find those terms you are getting traffic from that are on page two and three of the serps and work on getting those terms better placement.
I work on traffic first and then follow that by working on the conversion rate. Test various pages of text and money phrases and increase your conversions. If you can raise your conversion rates you can earn more than the competition simply by selling better. Track the phrases that sell for you and take note of those phrases that convert that are listed at #7 and #8. Chances are that THOSE are the phrases that convert best and remember that when you write your copy for all those phrase expansions you'll be working on. :)
It's much more fun to beat them fair and square than it is to become just like them.
If you have built good content, and a fair link exchange you are miles ahead on your competition. Don't make the mistake of going down the road your competitors are as you will be taking 10 steps back.
This update may not have dealt you a fair hand this time, but it will eventually...Probably sooner than you think.
Remember that whatever algo different search engines are using is created by humans, and will constantly be improved. I know very few instances in history where an idea, or object turned out perfect the first time around. We have erasers on our pencils for a reason!
Don't be surprised when these competitors find out they have been HAD by trying to tweak results. If newbies are following suite, than it will also be a lesson they will have to learn. Soon your competiors will be looking at you, puzzled, wondering how to start over and build decent content.