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I am running out of patience and am too about to jump on the band wagon.
What am I going on about you may ask? Well here it is.....
I am trying to run an honest business here - One website, very comprehensive - no duplicate sites, no nonsense link pages, etc. But I am finding it increasingly hard to compete with the link popularity spammers of the world.
Let me go into more detail:
I sell widgets - blue widgets, red widgets, brown widgets - widgets, widgets, widgets - you name it I sell it.
Heres the problem :
I sell all my widgets off one website www.widgets.com - for red widgets I have a page www.widgets.com/redwidgets for blue widgets www.widgets.com/blueswidgets ,etc, etc. As far as I am aware this is fair practice and not spammy.
In order to promote my website and increase my PR, I spend most days swapping links with other relevant websites. I have found it necessary to setup sub link pages for each widget cataegory and swap links with other specilaist widget sites. E.G on my red widgets links page you will only find links to red widget related sites, on the blue widgets links page you will only find links to blue widget related sites, etc.
PROBLEM: I have ONE website, the competition (IN DROVES) is setting up ONE WEBSITE per category
e.g www.red-widgets.com www.blue-widgets.com ,etc. Its not just a few domains - its HUNDREDS - if not thousands and its not just one or two operators doing this - its MANY MANY MORE.
This gives them an UNFAIR advantage - WHY? Because each of these websites have their own links page and all theses links pages(on all domains) are more or less identical. So all they have to do is find 100 link partners for www.blue-widgets.com and then offer these link partners the opportunity to swap links with www.red-widgets.com, www.brown-widgets.com , etc, etc.
Starting to see the trend?
So poor me, who can only swap ONE link with jo-shmo is competing with these spammers that can swap 100 links with jo-shmo each pointing to all of their separate domains.
See what I mean? Jo-shmo will only link to my site ONCE (One domain - one link). The spammers get 100 links pointing to 100 differnt domains.
My point is that, I and many others are losing ground and if we dont split up our sites into millions of specailist domains and follow these tactics then we will swept under the carpet.
Is this what link popularity and pagerank is all about?
I seriously hope Google and the like are aware of the problems this technology is creating.
I think Google need to include somekind of better filter to pickup on these duplicate external link pages and BAN ENTIRE sites that use these devious tactics. I have seen, on very few occasions, these duplicate links pages getting PR0'd, but the index pages of the domains still have PR7.
It's just a matter of trying to stay one step ahead. So don't give up just yet, you never know what the next update will bring....
No response to your post in 30 minutes and you're getting annoyed.
Time to switch to decaf.... ;)
I think you've hit on a fine line here. What's spam, and what's not?
On one hand, what you describe could easily be considered spam if the products are VERY closely related. For example, if color was really the only difference in products (per your widget example), then I'd call it spam.
If, however, the products were significantly different, then I'd say it's okay to promote them seperately with different web sites.
Think of a real world example -- Here in the US, it's common for one person (or company) to own multiple car dealerships -- one for Ford cars, one for Mercury cars, one for BMW cards for example. They don't have just one "car" store, they have 3 distinct dealerships to highlight each different make. You may drive down the street and see three different dealerships, all owned by the same person, but at least their product offerings are distinct.
I don't see that as spam. I see it as advertising to your unique market segment.
Now if they had one dealership for Red cars, one for Blue cars and another for Green, that might be leaning back towards spam.
It's a fine line.
If the Search Engines don't penalize them for spamming, you might be better off to join them instead of fighting them. Just make sure you have DISTINCT sites, not just a bunch of domains pointing to the same 5 html files...
Good luck either way!
Gone are the days of having just one site - if things carry on like this we will all need hundreds of domains - one to sell red wine, one for white, one for rose, one for corks, one for bottle openers, one for GRRRRRRRR! :(
I brought up the issue of SEOs dominating the SERPs (in a different context though) and the hypothetical possibility that as the knowledge of the existence of SEO increase, the SERP's will become more saturated with optimised results.
At least that was part of what I was trying to say! :)
I think it is a concern that websites are so easy to churn out and optimise these days (OK, not easy persay, but those with the right knowledge are easily capable of it).
The main concern is that where the majority of the SEOs here (at least those who contribute) have learned their trade through experience or through formal qualifications (or both), most spammers have just learned a few tricks and decided to exploit them.
Most of us have the experience and "wisdom" to operate ethically...we know the impact that spam has on others so we stay away and conduct ourselves in a professional manner.
Spammers dont have this experience though (at least most of them). They just have a bit of technical knowledge and want to make a quick buck.
Think of it this way? How easy is it to learn a technical skill on the Internet? Pretty easy, there are tonnes of sites offering free tutorials. How many of them also offer "web etiquette" tutorials, or "good buisiness practice" information? Very few.
It seems to me that the SE's, legitimate SEOs / Webmasters need to make a cumulative effort to help combat this problem. It effects all of us, if not directly, but by annoying our customers, which in turn lowers their confidence in the web and therefore our businesses.
How we combat it....well, I do not know! :)
Lets stop hiding - I am in the travel business.
Competition has one site for NY, One for Boston, One for Chicago, etc. Links pages on all these sites are IDENTICAL, linking to many other general travel sites and all these general travel sites link back with KEYWORD RICH TEXT RICH.
The result - NUMBER ONE POSITIONS for all cities
Is this spam? If not then watch out boys here I come...
[edited by: nervous_seo at 6:34 pm (utc) on Nov. 21, 2002]
I think good seos should include information on bad practice, articles etc that demonstrate the problems spam causes within their own websites.
The problem is exacerbated by certain individuals who promote cloaking technology and 'ways to beat the se's' ethics are often at the bottom of these guys list.
There has to be a way to deny those who promote unethical practice the oxygen of publicity.
Good resources like those founded by pr1 et al also go some way to building confidence in the industry.
Unless the SE's begin to take the matter seriously (and I dont think they do) then the problem will get worse not better.
Good points made all round.
I think another angle would be in educating the user as to what constitutes spam (even though we only have a vague idea of what the SE's define it as).
The problem is that spammers are doing it because it is profitable. If we educate users as to the pitfalls of spam and "what to avoid", it becomes less profitable.
Of course this would be treading a very fine line, as the subject area is at best vague and there are a number of opinions as to what constitutes spam (just a thought, but would anyone consider AOL's CD mass mailings as spam....?).
Also, encouraging industry standards across the board could be a good way of ensuring quality of websites. Ie a non spammy website will not.... etc. Then consumers would know where to go for quality, and there would be an incentive for spammers to get their sites in order.
I think if we all do our own little bit it can build up. People need to know not to reply to junk emails. They need to know not to fill in dumb surveys. They need to know not to check the 'more information box' (unless they do want more info).
The web is different though. I think we need to educate consumers in looking for quality information and not necessarily the number one site in the SERP's (a suggestion that may not please many SEO's, but still just my opinion :)).
We cant stop the spammers. SE's cant stop the spammers without restricting us. Its the consumers that have the power.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE, man! ;)
This is one of MANY examples. Others additionally cloak like hell, locate their servers all around the globe, build HUGE affiliate portals for every possible subject (sure, including mine). There's no question if they do it honestly. It's just blatant spam.
OK. I watched these guys since months. I reported them since month. I explained to google (through spam report) what they should look at. I gave them really good proof of the spam. So? Nothing! They stay in google since 6 months +. However, others (with 100.000+ pages, easily to spot by a spam filter) were removed - so no complain about the google staff!
So what can the little honest webmaster do? Big hmmmmm .... i can't tell what one should do. But next year i'll definitely do the same tricks if they still "work". I just wait two or three more updates to be sure that it's the only way to compete. Like others said - i also really feel forced to spam.
JOAT, good suggestion but that never worked and will never work. People are to lazy to use their power. Just switch on your TV and watch the world news.
[edited by: Yidaki at 6:44 pm (utc) on Nov. 21, 2002]
There are inherint dangers with this, so dont run off and tell your customers why your competition is bad and evil! :)
A general, informational (non biased!) article would serve to at least to bring the issue to the eyes of your customers.
Be sensible though...if you start griping on your site and it comes back and hits you in the face, then dont come moaning to me! ;)
Like someone said in the other spam post thats going on, "what goes around comes around"!
>people are too lazy, but can achieve wonders if rallied or motivated. Just open the window and look at the world around you.... ;)
[edited by: jackofalltrades at 6:48 pm (utc) on Nov. 21, 2002]
We're in a closely related business and see what you're referring to all the time.
It started with many of the big boys and their use of subdomains (city1.thisservice.com). It was (and still is) hard to compete with the deep pocket folks but by working the edges we've been able to keep our head above water for a couple of years.
Now, as servers have become easier to use and cheaper, and the price of domain names has plummeted, you see much more use of subdomains and a huge rise in multi-domains (thisservice-city1.com, thisservice-city2.com, etc.). And yep, they're all interlinked and they all use identical link pages. We've seen many cases where companies have 20, 30, 40 even 50 different sites. Many are based in places where there is the techno know how is inexpensive. They can hire a half dozen people and give each 4 or 5 sites to work on.
So now instead of just finding a niche and competing with the big boys, we have to compete with all of the little-big boys who are exploiting all of the niches. It's become a heck of a lot tougher.
And Hi Jack of All Trades. Agree with your "I think we need to educate consumers in looking for quality information and not necessarily the number one site in the SERP's." Also think that much of that education is done by the consumers themselves on a 'self-correcting' basis. As they can't find the information they want, as they see a site is a bunch of bull, as they get poor service and get scammed, they start to dig down a bit deeper in the SERPs. We get visitors all the time who's comments are along the lines of 'finally, useful information;' 'honest opinions about widgets,' etc.
So word of mouth goes a long way.
The consumers do have the power. Give them what they want and they'll come back. And hopefully tell their friends along the way.
But presumably each domain needs to have enough content to be worthwhile?
The problem may be growing, but IMO it's nowhere near as bad as the worst Altavista days. In Google you normally can find plenty of non-spam in the SERPs.
Are those properties you are seeing of any value? Do you think the searcher is going to click thru and make a purchase? If not, then don't worry about it and let the algo take care of it eventually. If they are relevant, and people are clicking thru and purchasing, then the SE has performed its duty in serving relevant results.
I've seen many examples given of multiple domains. Many SEO's use this strategy and if done correctly, it is not considered spam. There is a line somewhere. Where? I'm not really sure and I don't want to be the one to find out!
I have a few clients who have opted for additional properties to compliment their main one. Reason? Because there was too much content to target with one domain. The Internet is growing, what we did a couple of years ago was fine. Now we need to find new avenues to expand our presence. Its only logical that you start breaking down your site content into its least common denominator. If you find you have enough content to launch a secondary complimentary site, then do so.
I'm in agreement that those who abuse the system are an annoyance. But, the abusive sites that I see are normally junk. I take one look at them and go right back to the SERP's to see what else is there.
There are not enough of us here to do anything about the spam, sorry, that's just the plain ole' truth. If you wish to go on a Spam Crusade, go right ahead. You'll have many supporters, but it still won't make an impact. So, what do you do? Just do the right thing and hope for the best. Get creative and build properties that are optimized well and present the user with viable relative content.
If you've got a short lived campaign, then you will do what it takes to get your site(s) into the top positions. With PPC, CPC, PFI and all the other paid inclusion or bid for keyword programs, you've got an excellent opportunity to take your site right to the top.
The Internet is not free anymore. If you are serious about doing business online, you'll take the steps to market your product appropriately and without violating the SE's TOS. You need to be able to read between the lines of those TOS's and take appropriate measures from there.
Not all uses of subdomains are spammy. Most aren't, some are. Same with multiple domains. Some are spammy, some aren't.
And that's the big question: When does a legitimate business practice turn into spam?
My short answer is: I know it when I see it.
And JOAT, I'm not sure if we have to get on the front line and lead the people. After all, this wow wow wow internet thing is still pretty new. They'll learn how to use it better after awhile.
I know of one hotel affiliate who's offering to buy ads on "content sites" with the proviso that they give him five regular (non-advertising) links so he can boost his affiliate site's Google PageRank. I suppose that's good news, in a way, because at least he recognizes that the days of free Google spamming are numbered. But it does show the problem that Google faces in keeping its search results from being corrupted. How can Google know which inbound links are legitimate and which ones are bought?
(BTW, just for the record, I'm not running that guy's ads or selling my links!)
It's absolute nonsense and a waste of time to sit around and complain about the fact that a competitior had enough sense to learn and understand the basic concept of "divide and conquer."
If I was advising a client that had a large site that sold day tours in hundreds of different cities, the first thing I'd tell them is to split it up into multiple sites.
And if I was searching the web for day tours in Boston and I ended up at boston-daytours.com instead of daytours.com/boston/, I wouldn't care. All I would care about is whether or not I could book a tour of Boston.
It all comes down to the level of expertise you have and/or how much you can afford.
You have many choices here.
1. You could setup your 1000 site network and replicate what they have done (although this is not a great strategy unless you have significant amount of employees (or outsource the work) for unique copy writing (content) and web design. If these sites are not unique you will get burned in the long run.
2. Learn to reproduce the same results at your single site.
3. Hire a SEO and make him/her accountable for this.
4. Start getting into mass PPC.
5. Move to more off-line process
No matter which way you look at it, commercial business is about making money, as well as spending money to make money.
Every single company competes (and as far as I know there isn't much wrong with competing).
If you're competing on-line at the same level as last year and continue to compete at this level next year, obviously things are going to get worst.
It's either a good time to spend some money or a good time to start learning alot.
"Free" doesn't work forever.
[edited by: fathom at 8:28 pm (utc) on Nov. 21, 2002]
:) Thanks man. I couldn't have said it better.
It's all spam. You admitted yourself that you're working on your site to keep it ranking well. That's spamming. The next step is metamorphose into a better spammer and leave the anti spam rhetoric behind. You'll make more money and be happier. :)
Anytime you try to use the rules, or lack there of, for your own ends you are exploiting the algo.
Which, if memory serves, is spam.
This company/person has identified that each city has it's own market and keyword set, there by using individual sites to target each keyword set. Sounds like a very good plan, I would do the same.
Yup! And, if done correctly, will most likely hold quite a few of the top spots if theme was concentrated on which normally it is. That's when you start to pull results for those 1 and 2 word searches!
It looks as though nearly everybody is giving you the answer you need, I'd say that is the power of WebmasterWorld.
Enough difference in perspective here, and we all say the same thing: rank well, rank often. "Spam" if you like...just remember, if the other fellow 'spams' more effectively than you, learn from what they are doing - most people don't do anything flawlessly, so there will be plenty of opportunity for you to make your own 'spam' rise to the top.