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ww.w and duplicate content issues

     
3:32 pm on Aug 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Hi All,

First of all - sorry if this post is in the wrong area.

I've noticed a website ranking for results twice with ww.w and pretty much spamming the SERPs with rubbish quality pages for my term.

1. How do they do this?
2. What is it?
3. How can I request/suggest to Google it be removed.

I've submitted bad duplicate content to Google before and nothing happened - not even a "thanks for your email" email. It would be nice to know I was sending it to the right place.

Tom.
12:27 am on Aug 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

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It is possible to set up any hostname a person chooses (the hostname is the section before the actual domain) - so "www.example.com" or "ww.w.example.com" or "whatever.example.com" are all technically possible and not in themselves spammy. Why this particular effort is slipping through Google's defenses is something only they could say.

When you do report spam to Google, they usually do not take manual action to remove it. Instead they say they use the reports to improve their algorithm. The only time I ever reported spam to Google it was raunchy adult content ranking for a grade school search term - and in that case, they did take manual action within 24 hours of my report. But unless the spam is of that nature, I'd say do not expect a quick response.
4:18 am on Aug 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

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It appears from your description that they've set up "wildcard DNS" in a way that would allow a variety of subdomains like "www", "ww.w", or "whatever" to return results. With enough inbound links, these subdomains can rank, but it's generally a short-lived ranking. These rankings may not even be intended, and the DNS and hosting setup described might in fact have opened the site up to competitive mischief. A subdomain named "whatever" can include a lot of undesirable terms.

Spammers can simply point enough links at the site with the "whatever" of their choice to temporarily kick it up. Often they use hacked sites to point the links, a pernicious form of "Google Bombing".

You should guard against unspecified multiple subdomains on your own site, as those multiple subdomains, if they return identical pages, are likely to be seen as dupe content. Dupes eventually will get filtered out by Google, and you're not always in control of which subdomain does end up getting displayed.

In considering whether the site you're seeing is spamming or is a victim, you need to look at the site carefully and evaluate the circumstances. If the domain is one that someone would want to retain, chances are the domain is being victimized and isn't necessarily the spammer.
10:37 am on Aug 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Wow - thanks fellas.

This website I mention is a competitor and I personally feel they're using black hat techniques to out rank us.

I didn't want to say at the start, for fear of tainting the replies you gave (which are excellent, thank you!)

It's quite frustrating for us, because they're hogging the SERPs for many terms due to the fact they have 6/7 websites under different domains that are EXACTLY the same and then their main website has about 4/5 sub domains, including a ww.w and a http:// version of their site.

In many cases, we rank first, but then they take the other 9 results!

I understand that the first link gets more clicks than all the others combined, but it's still bugging me as we're quite ethical about our approach to online marketing and nothing is being done about this and it could affect our business.

Any thoughts/advice would be great!

Cheers guys!

Tom.
9:45 am on Sept 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

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If they are taking 9 of the top 10 places and using subdomains and other tricks to get multiple results for the same content, then you may wish to report it to Google. Note that this forum is not a way to send messages to Google.

Our Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com], though, does describe the best four ways to report the situation, should you wish to go that route. It's also not likely you'll see immediate action. Google tries to find algorithmic solutions, and they also need to prioritize problems based on user demand and urgency.

If the other site isn't using spammy techniques, though, but simply getting multiple listings on the same domain, or is ranking, say, on foreign TLDs, then the situation isn't one I would report. Take a look at these threads to get a sense of what might be happening...

Host Crowding vs Brand Authority
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4464096.htm [webmasterworld.com]

Noted in the Brand Authority discussion is another discussion, which brings up a specific site, something we don't generally do, largely because of outing potential. We ask users not to post specifics. The site in this discussion, though, is large enough and widely discussed enough that we did allow it to be identified....

How Google is Showing the Results
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4381552.htm [webmasterworld.com]

I should ask also whether your search might be interpreted as a branded search, for keywords incorporated in your competitors brand. The fact that you're in first place suggests not, but I felt it worth asking.

Also, how long have you been seeing this happen?
2:52 pm on Sept 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Robert, thanks for those - I'll get reading.

As for seeing this happen, at least a year now. They've litterally gone through a spate of just buying domains with different ccTLDs although they are only in the UK. Additonally, they've started using the subdomain trick on their global TLD.