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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?!
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
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.
You can always report the situation to Google - nothing may happen, but you never know.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
If I place once in top 10-20, I'm happy and that's the way it should be
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. :)
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.
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!
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).
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!
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. ;)
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. :)
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.
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.
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?
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.