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Scraper sites are GOOD

Scraper sites do have a useful role to play online.

11:23 am on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I often heard it hear repeat, the talk about scraper sites, how bad they are, and the frequent words of frustration from publishers against those making poor-content scrapper sites and getting money the easy way.

My astonishment when hearing such words had always been for the repeating phrase "there are MANY scraper sites out there". I was astonished from that phrase simply because I almost never in my online life got across one of them! (I'm online from over 12 years, and spend around 5 to 8 hours online daily. And use search engines (mainly Google) for finding my way online.)

It was not until yesterday when I got across a scraper sites. Okay, more than one actually. This happened after I went to Word Tracker .com (after reading about it here (I later discovered I've been there before, but just did not make good use of the tool then)). Playing with the trial for a while, I found "excellent" keywords. Searching Google for those keywords (which included a keyword with misspelling! it was an "excellent" keyword still because searchers often wrote the wrong spelling, while there were extremely few sites that had the misspelled word). Searching Google for such "excellent" keywords, the scraper sites started to appear.

It downed upon me then that those complaining out of frustration from scraper sites must be spending a lot of time in SEO using tools similar to word tracker to fish for "excellent" keywords. (I am using the word "excellent" to denote a keyword that is highly searched and at the same time few sites have it.) Except that those people complaining here are putting rich content in their sites.

After visiting that scrapper site (and which I discovered had grabbed many excellent keywords) I realized what the often talked about scrapper sites are and how they looked like. Yes they looked ugly, but ...

I reckoned, after taking a short 'subway' in my thinking process, that scraper sites DO in fact help and are Good, which is contrary to common belief.

Yes I agree that scraper sites have little content to offer, and their developers do little effort to develop them yet gain a lot of money for it but having no content does not mean they are not doing a service to searchers.

Actually, scraper sites are indeed useful to searchers. Let's say 100,000 searchers search for a phrase that is often not found in content rich sites. The content they need is found on the net on some content rich sites, but the phrase they use just does not get them to those sites. Enter scraper sites. The scraper sites act as a sort of mediator between the two, search engines and content-rich sites. When those 100,000 searchers use search engines to search with this phrase, they get a scraper site as the #1 result, going to that site, they do not find content, but they do find links and doorways to sites rich in the content they were in deed looking for.

If it was not for the scraper sites, who's developers spend their time on nothing but fishing for those "excellent" keywords, those 100,000 searchers would just not be able to find the content-rich sites, simply because they used search phrases that such sites do not optimize for.

I still understand the frustration of content-rich site developers, as they feel those scraper sites 'steal' their ads, and result in a lower CPC. Yet my point is that scraper sites do have a role to play. At least the topic can be debatable, and not seen in a black and white way as it had always been (except by perhaps some scraper site developers whom sometimes try to say they are doing little harm).

Note: The subject line of my post was intentionally scalped against the accepted norm to attract attention. No offence to rich content publishers (me being one of them), but just liked to present a thought that struck my mind.

11:49 am on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Scraper sites are the bottom of the barrel and the online equivalent of market stalls selling knock off goods. Cheap, crappy merchandise that has been quickly produced and more often than not uses unauthorised images, content and/or branding.

As much as I like Google, I do blame them 100% for allowing publishers to use code on any site they want when they are accepted. Simply reviewing the URL content ads will be served on would reduce the amount of scraper sites (and otherwise "borderline" crap) by a great deal.

Some might say blaming Google is unfair, after all it's the individual SEO's that are churning out the spam - but IMO, Google were sufficiently aware of the amount of greedy individuals there are in this business, long before they introduced Adsense, and had a responsibility to maintain a certain level of quality.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - if Y! or MSN were to offer a comparible system to Adsense, while enforcing pulisher quality before acceptance, I would sign up in a heartbeat just out of principle.

Not to be too negative about Google though, they are reasonably good about booting spam sites when they are reported - I just don't see a valid reason why they can't review individual URL submissions (maybe even tighten up the guidelines)? Or simply not generate ads on sandboxed sites? ;)


6:53 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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A lot of questions and discussion here but I want to know what can be done about it?

I recently had my site included on one such site and want to know if there is anything that can be done to get it off. I did write to the owner of the site and asked them to remove it and got a reply asking why I would'nt want my site included.

This site takes a word, in my case a city name, and serves up 50 sites with that word in it on one page. A thumbnailed impression of my homepage serves as the link to my site. Thinking about this, there could be 1000's of pages in this site already.
It is relivent to adsense, they're running on the left side of the page.

BTW, got the info on the inclusion from google alert I set up to track who links to my site.

7:21 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I've told a webmaster that if they don't want a site indexed, create a robots.txt file to prevent it. Otherwise, I have free reign to post their site.

It's only actually happened once, and I ended up banning the site from mine, permanently. They are missing out more than I am.

7:58 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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and I ended up banning the site from mine, permanently

I'd be heart broken if my site was permanently banned from all scraper sites ... not!

8:03 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I've told a webmaster that if they don't want a site indexed, create a robots.txt file to prevent it.

You use a unique name for your spider, such that he can ban just you?
This 35 message thread spans 2 pages: 35

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