Google+ Doorway Pages / Scraper Site

Sep 15th

Another friend sent me a message today: "just got a whole swathe of non-interlinked microsites torched today. Bastard! Just watching the rank reports coming in..."

I haven't seen his sites, but based on how he described them "whole swathe" I wouldn't guess the quality to be super high. One thing you could say for them was that they were unique.

Where putting in the effort to create original content falls flat on its face is when search engines chose to outrank aggregators (or later copies) over the original source. The issue has got so out of hand that Google has come right out & asked for help with it.

The big issue is that Google is often the culprit. Either indirectly through their ads programs & algorithmic biases or more directly through the launch of new features.

When Google launched Knol I was quick to flame them after I saw them ranking recycled content on Knol ahead of the original source. The Knol even highlighted similar works, showing that Google allowed Knol to outrank earlier sources of the same work.

In a recent WebmasterWorld thread Brett Tabke stated that Google is putting serious weight on Google+:

Some Google+ SEO factors now trump linking as prime algo ingredient. Google+ is already and clearly influencing rankings. I watched a presentation last night that definitely showed that rankings can occur from Google+ postings and photo's with no other means of support.

As Google+ grows - so will Google's understanding of how to use it as rankings signals.

We are not playing Google+ because we want too - we are playing Google+ because we have to.

I read that sorta half hoping he was wrong, but know he rarely is.

And then today Google hit me across the head with a 2x4, proving he was right again.

Business Insider is not some small niche site that Google can justify accidentally deleting from the web with 2 clicks of a mouse, yet when I was doing a *navigational* search, trying to find a piece of their content I had already read, guess what popped up in the search results.

Yup. Google+

What's worse is that isn't from a friend, isn't from the original source, is the full article wholesale, from Google Reader, and the source URL has Google's feedproxy in it.

If Google wants to add value to the ecosystem & insert themselves as a new layer of value then how can we do anything but welcome it. However, when they want to take 3rd party content & "wrap it in Google" it is absolutely unacceptable for them to outrank the original source with their copy of it, even if they feel the deserve to outrank it & have made multiple copies of it.

On large complex system I get that some advice will be self-serving and progress often comes with bumps and bruises.

But Google's dominance in search coupled with their dominance in display (from owning DoubleClick & YouTube) has led competing portals to team up to try to compete against Google with display ads.

And, if the big portals are struggling that much, then at the individual publisher level, how do you profitably produce content when Google takes your content & ranks their copy ahead of yours?

Published: September 15, 2011

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Comments

September 16, 2011 - 1:27am

Aaron, many great points. After working in the publishing industry for 15 years until last year, this issue of Google ripping off content from true providers is not new. Google News often stole traffic from the newspaper websites I managed. They bought syndicated content from AP that OUR newspapers generated, then prioritized those news pages over the generator of the content, the newspaper.

To create a derivative statement of your blog post...."Google has aggregated content so deeply and well that they've become both the search engine and destination in many cases."

September 16, 2011 - 2:32am

I second that.....great points, indeed.

Either Google are too stupid to see that they will destroy the very ecosystem they feed off, or - more likely, IMO - they're pulling a Facebook. They'll become the publishing system.

September 17, 2011 - 12:38am

Google wants the public to create content that they can steal at their whim and repurpose however they like.

But that's not enough for them.

Even though their prime business model revolves around taking other people's stuff and selling ads around it, they now want the general public to use +1 to determine how it should all rank. Who needs an algo?

Google: You create it. You rank it. We'll get paid for it.

(don't worry. if you want visibility you can always buy advertising with them. just make sure you have a 7-figure spend or they might ban your account to make room for Fortune 500s)

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