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Definition of a bad neighbourhood in Google

How to spot and avoid them.



2:16 pm on Oct 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I recently met a client whose employed seo's entire seo campaign was built around buying 96 new domains for the client - putting up almost identical 4 page websites on each domain and linking back to the client.

Then, they build a directory and then populate the directory with these 96 similar (so relevent I Guess!?) domains so trying to game google.

I dont know how widespread this kind of thing is but is it spam? I certainly think so - and told my client that. Putting a 100 identical websites into google just to manipulate IBLs?

Is this the definition of creating a bad neighbourhood? If not - what is?

I know if I link my client to this neighbourhood I could be banned - but i guess it's also concievable that Google could easily work out that all the links in this spam directory points to my client site and so ban them or at least devalue the site in the serps.

Please let me hear your comments - Is it Spam?

PS - Google of course ignores these links - but Yahoo's been gamed into listing them!


9:52 pm on Oct 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

There's two different kinds of sites to look for.

90% c*** sites; MFA, duplicate, meaningless copy, etc., etc., they are there for adsesne and for linking, nil else. They are no problem; any site that would be a waste of your visitors time, you wouldn't link. Would you?

The problems are the sites that are as 'genuine' as you, duped into a vast linking charade that is hard for you to spot, until you've had some practice, but very easy to spot for Google.

Clues are front page links to other sites; often at the foot of the page; visible, but pretty inconspicuous. also look for any on page linking that looks 'iffy'; not related, multiple links to one site, etc., etc.

Third party requests for 'my client' should be read very carefully.

Requests for reciprocal links, 96% of the time, are very iffy indeed. A classic sign is the idiot who wants a link from your GPR=4 page, and offers one from a deep page that isn't even on his site!

Page Rank is NOT a safe way to assess a site you never saw before - but a gray bar, or even GPR0 on a none-too-new site is a flag.

Also look for sites that promote their designer and / or SEO; this isn't (of course) 100% reliable - but folk with that level of vanity are a flag.

Remember that Links To Your Site can rarely get you into trouble unless they are part of a link network - so long as you take care with your outgoing links, you'll be as safe as can be.

And finally, if it looks too good to be true - it very probably is ;)


12:13 am on Oct 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Quadrille's right -- Google's good at spotting thin sites.

More importantly, buying lots of domains, posting thin/false content on them, and linking back to your main site is a very, very bad idea.

Google and other SEs can spot this in a New York Minute! If there's a network of sites all linking into each other, with few other independent links into the group from outside, it will throw up a redflag as very artificial. It's a thinly-veiled attempt to generate up a higher ranking score -- this could also be called "gaming the system".

Not a sustainable strategy! This is a "Black-Hat" sort of tactic, and it can get your site penalized or even banned altogether. Even if the various domains start appearing in search engine indices, it's not proof that the strategy was successful. The primary site could end up ranking worse as a result of the ploy.

The company should ditch that SEO firm in a heartbeat, and go with another firm that uses more sustainable, white-hat practices.

For good, valid businesses, it's possible to build links naturalistically, and to incent people to link over to you by having good content, or buy using some fun linkbaiting methods.

Sometimes people spend more time and money trying to cheat the system than they would've had to spend if they'd just used honest means from the outset! The method you describe might work for a short period until it gets flagged. At that point, the company might have to hire a whole new firm to get them out of the dog-house, and they may've lost priceless amounts of referral traffic unnecessarily.


2:36 am on Oct 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Would you agree the instance I gave would be considered SPAM or black hat technique?

Is there any other senior members who have an opinion on this specific example?


5:18 am on Oct 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Please let me hear your comments - Is it Spam?

sandpetra, the answer is yes.

Short term gains, however, may not serve long term plans.

To paraphrase for clients: Don't build your castles on spam.

They'll understand.



7:08 am on Oct 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Sorry; YES - building 96 sites where one would do could not be anything else.

Spam, and so 2005. Idiotic spam. :)


8:37 am on Oct 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

*Is this the definition of creating a bad neighbourhood? *

It's more a definition of a links scheme, quite what constitutes a "bad neighbourhood" from the "..your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links." POV is unclear.

I've only come across one example of an otherwise "clean" site being penalised for linking to a "bad neighbourhood", it was closely related topically but was using hidden links to pharmas...


10:15 am on Oct 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Idiotic Spam - Exactly my thoughts!



12:14 pm on Oct 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

As the broadest definition of a bad neighborhood: Google's tips for webmasters page has a list of things to do and not to do. Any link into a neighborhood (a group of sites that link to each other) where the "not to do" practices are commonplace is likely to get you into trouble, and those are neighborhoods to avoid.


1:44 pm on Oct 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It's currently debatable spam depending on your opinion.

I would class as spam, because the content does not sound useful and as such the sites have been created for the sole purpose of ranking high in search engines.

It would, as far as I am aware, only become a 'bad neighbourhood' if a Goolge engineer came across it and flagged as such.


4:42 pm on Oct 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Just to turn around and play the devil's advocate now, I can think of a similar gray strategy that might bring more traffic without getting penalized.

There are quite a lot of "domainers" around who are buying up domain names that people would be inclined to type directly into the address fields of their browsers. The domainers primarily may get users *directly* from this tactic, instead of getting users through SE referrals.

They deliver up lots of ads and links on those sites, frequently related in a marginally thematic way.

Domainers can make lots of money by buying lots of domains and plopping thin content on them in this way. Google and others don't necessarily frown upon this, and they refer to it as advertising on "parked" domain names. Google makes some ad revenue off of such sites, so they don't outright criticize them.

So, one could set up a large number of thin domainer sites, and have them link out to various authority sites as well as to your own site. As long as the domainer sites were registered in such a way as to not be associated with your own domain, the SEs would be unlikely to penalize you. Just don't link *back* to those sites, or it will appear as a linking scheme!

While this tactic would be unlikely to help your ranking in SEs (because many domainer sites don't get linked-to nor indexed by SEs), it could send you extra direct traffic from individuals who find their way onto those domainer sites and click through to you.

If the domainer URLs are thematically related to your business, then some of these clickthroughs might end up being conversions for your business.


7:53 pm on Oct 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

The "correct" (as per Matt Cutts) thing for "domainers" to do is to 301 redirect all those extra domains to the canonical form, and not promote any of them in search engines.


3:01 am on Oct 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Thanks. It screams spam to me.


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