Pretty Spam Sites

Numerous search information outlets have been recounting over the last several months that Google’s search results seem to have hit some sort of brick wall in terms of spam. Matt Cutts recently rebutted these claims in a recent article on the official Google blog, pointing out that “Google’s search quality is better than it has ever been in terms of relevance, freshness and comprehensiveness”.

Search engine marketers should really take a look at that last sentence carefully. Notice that Matt does not say there is “less spam than ever before”, rather that relevance, freshness and comprehensiveness are greater than ever before.

Ultimately, Google is interested in the user. The overwhelming majority of Google users will never check the backlinks of a site ranking in the top 10. They don’t know what forum or comment spam is, nor do they give a damn about keyword stuffing or hidden content. However, when they search for “NFL Jerseys”, they do expect to find 10 relevant results which give them the opportunity to learn about or purchase NFL Jerseys. Google looks closely at user signals of quality such as click through rate and bounce rate. Unless spam is both egregious in tactic and harmful to Google perceived search quality by normal users, a SERP is unlikely to draw the attention of the spam team which has fire after fire to put out.

Look at the examples recently posted on the SEOMoz blog by a YouMoz writer… NFL Jerseys, Pandora Jewelery and Thomas Sabo. The ranking sites in question all sell relevant goods and are not simply MFAs (made for adsense). In fact, the often cheap-knockoff goods are preferred by searchers. The sites tend to be well organized, functional, and differ primarily from other sites only in the tactics they use to rank.

I think we are looking at the coming generation of spam sites. Instead of MFAs stuffed with meaningless content, you will see full ecommerce solutions (which are easily launched, by the way, with FOSS solutions) that rival many of the legitimate competitors. The days of churn-and-burn are back.

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