SEO Mistakes: Hosted doorway pages

(This is a quickie note.)

If someone came to you and said “I want to rent out your mail server. I’d like to send out some emails from your server, and I’ll give you $N to do it,” you’d be suspicious and probably say no–unless you wanted your mail server to end up on email blacklists. In the same way, if someone comes to you and says “I’ll give you $N to rent subdomains, subdirectories, or pages from you. Just link to my doorway pages from your content,” I would recommend to say no as well. It can affect the reputation of your domain if you host doorway pages for someone else and then that other person creates spam on the pages on your domain.

65 Responses to SEO Mistakes: Hosted doorway pages (Leave a comment)

  1. Hi Matt

    As an exmaple do you mean URL:

    This is a totally unauthorised copy of our website homepage using an officefile subdomain. Our official site is

    The unauthorised URL has also been registered by – the same hosting company that we use for the official website!

  2. Do you mean, like the official national yellow Pages, Blogspot, MySpace and the huge number of other sites officially doing exactly what you say? 🙂 – Some do it for money (such as Yellop Pages) and some, apparently, just do it because having a large network of crap makes them feel good (Blogspot?) …

  3. It worries me that we might be about to see a lot of this (not, I emphasize, on our site!)

    It’s an approach that’s getting a lot of air time and attention at the moment…

  4. I am seeing this on quite a regular basis now. I won’t name names as last time I did my post got deleted but I am seeing these pages on highly respected newspaper sites. This is pure serps manipulation and if Google is to have any credibility, the gentle warning you have given is not enough.

    Google needs to clamp down on this hard otherwise it will just continue and become more widespread.

  5. C’mon Matt this is no different than a celebrity endorsement which has been done long before there were computers. Advertisers pay celebrities like Michael Jordan or Catherine Zeta Jones millions of dollars to be associated with their good reputation.

  6. Problem is that huge sites that you really want in your index are doing this. Sure you can ban some no name PR7-8 website that is doing this but what about the really big name brand sites. Another problem is that webmasters can do things on sites that the owners have no idea about. If they can hide from Google for a while what makes you think they can’t hide from the sites owner what they are doing.

    Right now all the spammers know that Google can’t read javascript and have hidden all kinds of things. When will Gbot start running javascript?

  7. Hey Matt

    Thanks for the tip, seems logical to me. I think that pointing it out this way will get a few spammers scrambling ( and complaining too ).

  8. Not to forget 🙂

  9. I’ve never heard Catherine Zeta Jones endorse fast cash payday loans. Garry Coleman does, but he doesn’t seem to be up for many starring roles these days…

  10. canadafred, I wanted to get it out there so people would understand if we started to take stronger action on this.

  11. I have always wondered about this. I bought a page on a “farmers market” site and the guy lists my products and links to them from his.

    Is that also considered a doorway or rented page? If so this means that the guys entire site is spam even though it offers a great place to go to find earth friendly products. If I was to ask him to remove all links and just leave one that points people to mine would that be fair? It is not easy selling homemade products online and we need to get exposure any way we can Matt, and YES sometimes pay for it. I am thinking “link condom” is the answer but I am not even sure Google recognizes them?

    Hmm, I just signed up for Amazon, wrote an article and linked out to the products on their site. I put no follows in because Amazon doesn’t need any more juice but are “product reviews” also considered doorway pages? Amazon after all is paying me if someone clicks the link yes? Hmm, interesting…running out of ideas on how to earn a buck. ;-(

    How about another post on “reputation Matt?

    I often do interviews of people who Google might not see as trustworthy. In these interviews I link out to their stuff. Does casting a vote (link) for someone who has been thrown out of the club hurt reputation. What is reputation?

    Ok, now there are too many questions!!! ;-(

  12. So does this mean you are going to devalue subdomains fromthe root domain if people are caught spamming?

    It is a tough call this one. Freehost with many domains-built up trust as it has been around for ages then some nutter comes in with a blast script and wipes them out. Very sad for those who cannot help it.

  13. I guess the domain is in big trouble then?

  14. Thanks Matt for taking a moment to respond to me.

    For those of us who play by the rules, it’s hard not to support action Google takes to defend it’s SERP integrity againsts techniques that artificially create importance to web pages that haven’t earned it.

  15. “There was no definition about what is so-called SPAM!”

    I know exactly what Matt is talking about. Good gives badman a free subdmomain. Badman spams trusted domain to death and get the domains trust banished to something worse than the sup index. This happens a lot in competitive areas and is a result of G’s trust algo.

  16. So then, what’s to be said of sites which make no money off of full pages created on behalf of non-profits. I’ve got plenty of them yet don’t profit from it and do as best a job to provide a good service all around.

    Mind you, I AM referring to truly legit organizations which need the help in getting the word out. Should I be now removing such pages from my site?

    In addition, I’ve never even considered anything of the such to be doorway pages…’at least not as they existed on my site. Any suggestions?

  17. I only have one concern about this, and it’s very minor.

    I host a page (not a site, a page) for one of my best friends and he pointed a subdomain to my server.

    His domain name(up until the point he took his own server down) was not only not a part of the big G index, he took active steps (including but not limited to blocking entire /8s) to keep the Googlebot at bay.

    The sole purpose of this page is to provide a form whereby anyone that knows about it (which consists of maybe half a dozen people) can send him a message to his pager, and it’s only to be used as a backup if his primary pager webpage doesn’t work (which is the case right now).

    It’s not being used as a doorway page, or a content page, and it doesn’t link to anything. It’s just a form input box, a submit button, and an explanation saying “WELCOME TO (name’s) PAGER”.

    I’d like to post the link, but I don’t want people abusing his pager.

    My concern is that other sites on the same IP address as the pager site would get negatively affected because I’m doing a favour to a buddy.

    I know this is likely a stupid question, but I’d rather be 100% sure than accidentally screw something up (healthy paranoia):

    If I put up a robots.txt file on the pager site disallowing the Googlebot, would that be acceptable?

    And to take this a step further, for those who want doorway pages, would using the robots.txt standard to not have these pages indexed be an answer (not a question that affects me, but it may answer someone else’s so that’s why I posed it)?

  18. I think it is hurting Google’s reputation more than reputation of website that links to doorways. Google became popular because search results were “more relevant”, how can you improve this by banning “relevant” website that points to garbage? Also, people will start to complain more about Google’s censorship of Internet.

  19. Adam Senour : Not that you are a target for hacking but putting in your robot.txt file to ignore a certain page may open the door for someone to read the robots.txt file, and the explore to that page. Having it in a directory that is then ignored at least doesn’t give the exact file name to browse to, and then send 800 pages to your friend.

    Just an idea….but then again I could be totally wrong here to!

    And back on topic: This may seem ignorant to the experts here, but I have perhaps a stupid question. If the purpose of this action is to discourage the doorway pages which serve no real purpose other than to have a place for people to have links to their site, rather than taking action on the site that sets up the page, why not just ignore the links?

    Let’s say Google did something to a site that allowed a bunch of these doorway pages to be set up, say delisted, or moved them down in the ranks etc. The site owner would go through the normal rehabilitation procedure, dump all the pages, resubmit, etc…yada yada. By doing this, the spammer would see by this action (since his page was deleted, delisted, disappeared) that this particular spamming technique is no longer working and then direct his energies toward developing new and improved internet spamming techniques. Now on the other hand, if Google’s algo takes note of said doorway page, and ignores it, or better yet continues to crawl it, but not retain any of the data (saving Google processor and storage resources) the doorway page creator, and the spammer all think their little trick is working and continue on that path. Filling up servers all over the world with pages that are worthless. Google’s search results are the same with both actions, and our spammer is busy spinning his wheels trying to make more worthless pages rather than developing a new and better black-hat technique.

    Okay, that’s it, now I’m sure someone will point the obvious that I missed while thinking this up.

  20. RE: ” There was no definition about what is so-called SPAM”

    Err, read the guidlines, they are to-the-point and non-ambiguous IMO.

    RE: “If I put up a robots.txt file on the pager site disallowing the Googlebot, would that be acceptable? ”

    I assume Matt is too busy to answer 😉 Yes, that is what I would do as well as using link condoms no index Meta tag.

  21. Matt, there really are some serious questions here that I think deserve answers by now. If what you are saying is taken literally, then I will stop seeing crap scraper sites like, and from showing up high in many searches. The mention of sites like blogger and myspace, and many others raises many other questions, but really, the spam, and I’d like to add bad neighborhood, definitions seem to be all important.

    Whos to say that Lenny Kravitz getting s subdomain on Absolut or Nike for that matter is any way less spammy than a subdomain.

    As much as I would love to see this algo enhancement wipe cdnow and off the first page, I wonder about other sites that have a shopping or slashdot for that matter, what exactly will be hurt? The main site that has subdomains, lose a trust factor?

    Google’s algo changes are like new laws being passed that end up affecting other people’s ways of communicating, often times impacting on a larger scale, the thousands of good sites, all because the crew at google it setting thier open fire on the few things it doesn’t like.

    or something like that….

    Another question, I have been thinking about doorway pages for the past week, and wondering, where is an official explanation of it? If Nike buys ad space and provides exhilirating flash content to the users of lenny kravtiz’ site via a sub domain page that has a link to, and, sells an ad for an online dating site for hip urban men and women, which in turn hires a pr team and seo firm to further promote it’s site. Well, some of the seo tricks used by the one firm kill the dating site’s rep with google, so then because of that, Lenny gets the knockout to a page rank 0, while , cdnow, VH1, WIKIPEDIA, and absolute take over the top spots.

    If I have a blog on a subdomian and it has links to a couple of site that lose trust because they link to a site that has lesbian scraper porn, then my main site is hurt all because of a blog post on a sub domain, that linked to a site, that linked to a site, right?

    Is it Lesbian sites that are bad neighborhoods, or is it any porn, pills and gambling? Is it just places with free links as mentioned earlier? Then wikipedia and others would be out of the index. Should all blogs including techrunch, gawker and others be wiped out? Are these strong blog networks going to become ghetto real estate? Will Yahoo’s categories still be strong enough to warrant paying $600 a year for a link?

    Is pfizer’s site in a bad neighborhood?

    Either way, I’d just like to know… seeing all that happen wouldn’t make me cry, just try to change new sites, and continue to run on this ever changing treadmill called called the google algorythm, always trying to catch up to an impossible, ever changing guidline for what works, and what is suggested; which are often not the same thing.

  22. MaxD – I believe that you are a smart guy and what you describe makes perfect sense just as what Matt describes does BUT there are too many unanswered questions here. Are we simply taking about renting domains? I believe it goes much deeper than this.

  23. S.E.W., just to give you a heads-up, I’m moderating out your comments. Several people at SES NYC complained specifically about you. Someone even compared you to a hidden Markov model that randomly generated text.

  24. At least the purchasing of “old” unsandboxed domains has been tackled- on checking the SERPS I am seeing less and less subdomains like optimised for loans along with more sub domains on the same unsandboxed domain EG etc etc

    What I am seeing now however is a LOT of link spamming on multiple domains – each domain is registered under a different name – registered with different registrar’s, and further hosted completely on different host’s – the only way to pick this up so far is manually checking site’s back-links.

    Back in 2002 link spamming started to become rife – good sites were being lost in the SERPS to the link spammers – unfortunately G took over 14 months to address the problem. Many of the good sites tried to counter the spammers by joining in.

    This time around I suggest to anyone trying to manipulate the SERPS to be patient – I have great faith in G even though my main site has been in the sandbox for over 6 months. My days are spent on linking to relevant sites along with “suggesting” to sites that a link to our site may help their users when I find it is completely relevant and helpful for them to do so.

  25. Hi Matt

    Something else I have noticed. I see that G has taken out of the SERPS domains that mimic keywords like etc etc. I find it strange that this has not been picked up more prominently by the SEO community (almost brought it up in Vegas but decided against it – was going through a really bad time right then) – that said I have noticed that G has not picked up a domain like – Gbot is still however picking this up. I am certain that some spammers have also picked up on this – I know you are going to want an example – well I don’t remember them exactly but do a search on “flight comparison” its not a very good example.

    Suggest G adds to its algo “sandbox – keywords in URL’s also in a string as well as URL’s with keywords in hyphens”

    Hope you get what I mean.


  26. Matt said: “we started to take stronger action on this”.

    Humm…. to me it seems Google is after anyone who has a gun, no matter what it is used for (or if it is used at all). You seem so focused on “not being tricked” that you forgot that you sometime remove valuable sites not for the benefit of the users but because their SEO was “too smart”… (wana see an example?)

  27. I personally welcome Google’s stance on this and wish it would crack down hard on the sites in question before it gets out of hand. Renting a page on a site is no different to buying links. I’m not against either of these methods as an advertising model as I’m sure Google isn’t and Matt has given guidelines before to people buying and selling links to add the rel=nofollow to them to give them legitimacy as advertising rather than serps manipulation.

    The renting of pages or sub-domains proves to be a different problem to Google which they are currently unable to deal with effectively. As Matt has explained before, even if you add noindex meta tags to the pages in question Google can still return these pages in the results with url only. That in my opinion is an issue that Google needs to address as otherwise, it could be seen that Google could penalize a site on the basis that a website dares to make some money from advertising even if it is taking steps to ensure that it is just advertising and not serps manipulation.

    I do object to the renting of pages and sub-domains that are done purely for serps manipulation. When you have highly respected newspaper sites selling these pages which are often nothing more than built for adsense pages with no content or navigation and the only choice people have is to close the page or click an ad then what is the benefit to users when they are on the front page of the serps?

    I think Google should also consider updating their webmaster guidelines. There are so many things that have been discussed in this blog that are not included in the guidelines. As popular as this site is, I would guess that the majority of ordinary webmasters won’t even know who Matt Cutts is (no disrespect meant). This blog serves as good education for webmasters but perhaps Google should be doing more themselves rather than relying on an individual to post in his spare time.

  28. Hi,
    Would i t be possible for Matt to confirm that sites using sub-domain/directories for legitimate advertising resons (as expressed by Valentine) would not suffer any penanlties, if any filter were to be put in place to stop the spam?

  29. Matt, I just wrote an article for my Weblog. I think the subject is very related to this one. I would like your comment and I am wondering if Google thinks I am a bad guy or not.
    (you can find the article at

    Just keep informing us about how to do things the right way.

    Thanks, Wim (nl)

  30. I totally agree with the banning of doorway pages in all shapes & sizes. The keyword here is “doorway pages”, **i.e. pages that hold no intrinsic value in & of themselves other than to redirect or funnel the visitor to another web location and/or deceitfully manipulate SERPs.** (please correct me if I’m wrong, b/c the definitions are so important).

    The interesting thing here (to me) is that we’re now construing “doorway page” to include another component: akin to “bought links”, a “doorway page” can boost the rankings of an external site with outbound links.

    The material point is whether or not the subdirectory/subdomain/page has meaningful *value to the visitor* viz. unique content found nowhere else online. That cannot be SPAM, after all–it’s legit. Then again, it also qualifies under your rules as well.

    Would that really count as SPAM, Matt?? After all, it could be quality content on a good domain. What’s wrong with such collaboration?

    –>Another relative comparison is the recent trend towards “article distribution” which has become so popular. Obviously, “article clearinghouse” sites have been popping up all over. Does this mean the end for them? In principle, authorship citation shouldn’t have to include a link condom, should it? Isn’t an authorship citation a legit, earned vote?

    Where is the line drawn between a “doorway page” and an informative article that delivers relevant traffic? (let’s say for argument’s sake that it’s uninformed about the rel=”nofollow” etiquette guideline).

    Ogletree & the others have some great points about overlap with legit sites. I’m interested in seeing how this works out!

  31. Hello!

    I have a question. I made website template and upload this template for
    free. This template include text file about copyright

    “Thank you for using free internet web site of our company
    You have a right to use it with any purpose.
    According to the Copyright Rights you can not remove our company
    link in the bottom part of our site.”

    But a lot of people remove this link.
    I start use link 1×1 pixel.(spacer.gif)

    I know this is badly, but I don`t have a choose.

    What do you think about this?

  32. Abhilash has a point, although the trick to enforcing it is a lot more difficult to do than it is to state.

    If an article author provides a quality article and an article site reproduces the article, what would be ideal is if the level of credit the author receive depended on the quality of the article site as a whole.

    The hard part comes in measuring the quality of the site:

    Does a site accept automatic article submissions on anything, such as Digg? Or is there a manual process?

    Does the site have a voting process?

    Is the article syndicated from another site? That would be a really good way to measure article quality.

    Does the article reach sites such as that are picky as hell (and justifiably so) when it comes to submissions?

    Does the article site have a voting system? If so, can the results be read by Big G?

    Mind you, I don’t see any of this stuff happening. It’s too much work for too little reward for Google. It would just be really nice to see, that’s all.

    Although in the meantime, it would be nice to see the authors who write quality articles get full credit for them. Mind you, writing them for SEO-type purposes primarily defeats the purpose. So I can see Big G’s stance on it.

  33. You seem so focused on “not being tricked” that you forgot that you sometime remove valuable sites not for the benefit of the users but because their SEO was “too smart”… (wana see an example?)

    If it were that smart, you wouldn’t have done anything stupid enough to get yourself removed.

  34. Adam Senour Said: If it were that smart, you wouldn’t have done anything stupid enough to get yourself removed.

    You don’t get it…

    Had Google been focused on the quality of the results they wouldn’t care HOW a site got where it is, they would only care about WHAT they present to users.

    What SEO does or does not do is IRRELEVANT to the end user.

    User type keyword, user want page, user happy, user goes eat dinner. Simple.

    When one removes, one says – “it is more important to for me to show I’m strong than to serve my users” – this is a slippery slope down which Google (and Matt) have been heading more often than you can imagine….

    Not good.

  35. There’s certainly a lot of debate on the issue of Doorway Spam. I’m more interested in making sure whatever Google, or for that matter, MSN and Yahoo, comes up with is UNIVERSALLY APPLIED, not selectively.

    Don’t punish small sites that don’t spend tons of money of AdWords yet leave along the bigger sites that support Google Advertising. It’s worse on Yahoo than Google, but I get the impression from both search engines that there are 2 sets of rules, one for the paying customers and another set for the non-paying customers. Lets get to the ONE POLICY that applies equally to everyone.

  36. More than 20 times spamreport and any thing. Why?
    Full doorway to other doorway pages.

  37. RE: “You don’t get it…”

    I think he does. If they are really smart they would be able to get to page 1 WITHOUT going outside the Google guidelines. Personally I see spammers as having the same potential as a moth flying about a light globe!

  38. Dave Said: Personally I see spammers as having the same potential as a moth flying about a light globe!

    Well, if this describes BMW, I wonder how will you describe Ford and GM….

  39. Sorry, John, just saw that comment:

    Adam Senour : Not that you are a target for hacking but putting in your robot.txt file to ignore a certain page may open the door for someone to read the robots.txt file, and the explore to that page. Having it in a directory that is then ignored at least doesn’t give the exact file name to browse to, and then send 800 pages to your friend.

    Just an idea….but then again I could be totally wrong here to!

    It doesn’t list the specific page (although it wouldn’t be too hard to figure out), and it’s a page on a subdomain where the root domain isn’t even being used.

    It’s a very oddball situation, but my buddy basically has the page (and when it’s up, the rest of his site) to organize all the junk he finds online so that he can access it from any computer he wants. It’s great fun for me, because once in a while I can piss him off by submitting his site to the search engines and having the bots hammer at his server. 🙂

    If a hacker wanted to find anything, he’d find one webpage and the robots.txt file (which doesn’t list the page…it tells the crawlers to get lost entirely). Somehow, I don’t think the h4x0r would waste time going any further.

    But it’s all good. If I find I’m getting burned (and I highly doubt it), I’ll just tell my buddy to move his page somewhere else and he’d be cool with it.

    Dave: you’re not allowed to say I have a clue. You’ll look like one of my groupies. But don’t worry…I’ll sign your boobs. 🙂

    Canadian Love: I don’t think you got my point…you said you had a live example. Show us the live example.

    And doesn’t count, because by their own admission, they inadvertently broke the rules. And if you’re looking for where they confessed, that would be implied by their removal of the offending stuff and their subsequent reinclusion.

    As far as the logic of serving the users goes, the point of the engines is to present content that users in such a way as to enhance their Internet experience (in other words, relevant).

    Those who spam are indirectly affecting the relevancy of the Internet experience for users by:

    Increasing page load times (for example, keyword text stuffing does take longer to load, however slight);

    Preventing users from finding other sites that should have an equal opportunity to present their goods and services;

    Misleading others as to the content of their site;

    Filling up search engine databases and by extension SERPs with thoroughly useless content.

    And that’s just what I can come up with off the top of my head.

    Again, let’s see your “too smart” SEO site. Come on. Out with it. You made a statement, now back it up.

  40. RE: “Well, if this describes BMW, I wonder how will you describe Ford and GM….”

    It wasn’t BMW themseleves that did the spam , they were duped (just like Google was) by a blackhat spammy SEO business.

  41. Dave said: “It wasn’t BMW themseleves that did the spam”


    Ok, Dave, now you are getting it…. sort of…. because regardless of who did what was the one removed…

    Googlebot finds a “SPAM” page, defines it as “SPAM” page and needs to take action.

    Since they already know this is “SPAM”, they can just ignore it – their users will never see it – and everyone will be happy.

    But they do not. They look around to find whom ever they think is responsiable BY ASSOCIATION – and they punish him.

    By doing so they demonstrate that they care more about teaching a webmaster a lesson than about what they show users.

    In my book – this is bullying…..

    And this post is just another example – Googlebot just found a “doorway page” – good – ignore it – move on – but NO – you have just been warned – host the pages and Google will hurt you….

    Tony Soprano must be proud…. 😉

  42. I think we can rest assured Canadian Love that the number 1 SE in the World is taking the right course of action on spam. After all, how do you think they became number 1?

    RE: “Since they already know this is “SPAM”, they can just ignore it – their users will never see it – and everyone will be happy”

    Their users will never see it? Are you kidding? Just imagine the www full of doorway pages, not my idea of the www and NOT Googles thank goodness.

    RE: “In my book – this is bullying…..”

    Yeah, how dare they determine what is acceptable for FREE listings in their Index.

    Please Google, bully me some more 🙂

  43. Sorry Dave, I’m taking my words back – you’ll never get why it is a slippery slope cause you have already gone all the way down hill. But I have a feeling Matt and others do get it… there is a thin but deep line between deciding what *I* publish to dictating *You* what to publish… very thin and very deep line….

  44. RE: “But I have a feeling Matt and others do get it”

    errr wasn’t the reason you were ranting due to the fact Google doesn’t “get it”. I’m sure having reading your posts though they will allow MUCH more spam 🙂

    Also Adam has asked, “Again, let’s see your “too smart” SEO site. Come on. Out with it. You made a statement, now back it up”.

    I’m also VERY curious to see this “too smart” SEO site and back-up your line thinking.

  45. This guy’s starting to sound like Search Engines Web.

    Does WordPress store the IP addresses of the posters? If so, that might prove interesting.

  46. Sorry Dave, I’m taking my words back – you’ll never get why it is a slippery slope cause you have already gone all the way down hill. But I have a feeling Matt and others do get it… there is a thin but deep line between deciding what *I* publish to dictating *You* what to publish… very thin and very deep line….

    Exactly where does Google dictate that? I could have a site devoted to one-legged Jamaican midget lesbian porn and big G wouldn’t censor it as long as I wasn’t misleading anyone about it.

    They don’t dictate to anyone. All webmasters have the choice between making their content acceptable to big G or not getting listed. No one has to follow the guidelines. If someone chooses to spam, it’s not like one of the soldiers in Tienamen Square is going to run over the offender with a tank or anything. (Oh wait, Tienamen Square never happened, so this shouldn’t get Matt’s blog censored in China.)

    It’s really simple:

    1) Webmasters can accept the terms and conditions of the privilege (which is something most spammers seem to forget…it’s not a God-given right) of being listed in Google.

    2) Webmasters can risk getting banned.

    Two choices. And no one from Google is sitting there with a sword threatening to hack a webmaster’s head off for keyword stuffing. Oh wait…sorry, Inigo Mattoya. That wasn’t very sportsmanlike of me.

  47. Oh I don’t believe Canadian Love (AKA SEW?) is the slightest bit interested in facts, as facts always spoil a good story 😉

  48. This is too funny….

    Who the F is SEW?

  49. Tell you what, you show me your “too smart” SEO site and back-up your statements and I’ll tell what SEW stands for, deal ?

  50. “Right now all the spammers know that Google can’t read javascript and have hidden all kinds of things. When will Gbot start running javascript?”

    i think your wrong and i think the bot also can read the hidden css spam and javascript redirects using css.

  51. I do not think that it is a Google problem as such with all the SPAM pages. The market needs to be regulated by the advertisers themselves. How many Google SPAM sites are not around? Sites made just for Adsense? All the large advertisers have to collaborate to share information about users who abuse the system.

  52. Matt,

    I’d really like to know what the actual conversion rates are for users who have been tricked into visiting a commercial page. If it is obvious that you have been manipulated – or are about to be – you will hardly develop a positive attitude towards the brand / website / company / product offer, will you? I would think that in business sectors where cheating is most widespread, e.g. insurance, there is a significant increase in the number of results pages that people click through to. On second thought: there may also be a significant increase in users chosing to click on the AdWord links instead.

    In any case: search result ranks should reflect the commonly perceived value of a page or site. To define this properly, and put into operational practice, is not only a permanent challenge to website owners, but also to search engines.

  53. I have a quick question about your topic of stuffing your site with keywords. I know you mentioned the ihelpyou forum was a good place to learn info, but wouldn’t this fall into keyword stuffing?

    targeted keywords with page names as those keywords, yet no content. This doesn’t seem very true to what you preach??

  54. What is wrong with keywords in the page name? It makes perfect sense for Webmasters and users. The key here is to keep it short.

    The page has x links DIRECTLY related to SEO services so I cannot see a problem.

    Then again JohnC, you are the king of deception so maybe you have a point. 🙂

  55. Not the keywords as the page name that makes me ask the question, it is listing keywords to pages that have no content related to them. Seems if I found that page in the search results, I would be upset if I found nothing about that keyword on the page.

    And what do you mean by being the king of deception? Is that a shot? Lets take this outside. 😀

  56. RE: “Seems if I found that page in the search results, I would be upset if I found nothing about that keyword on the page.”

    You mean you found it via “SEO Services”? If so, I would be content as that is what the page is about, as are the links on it.

    RE: “And what do you mean by being the king of deception? Is that a shot? Lets take this outside”

    Sorry, my bad. I had you confused with another John.

  57. …there goes Damn, such a good source of info on their “own” pages… Well, good thing they’ve got an easy to remember domain and some offline marketing.

  58. Well this is frustrating. Does this go for pre sell pages? I only ask because I’ve read on text linkbrokers that these are very good methods. Was going to make a purchase soon, but I guess I am advised to stay away?

  59. So if you are going to clamp down on bought links, advertorials and such like – does this not lead to a situation where friends in high places and nepotism start to influence the SERPs.

    You end up with –

    John whose brother works in a big department of and can call up a favour from his brother in terms of a link from

    has a massive advantage over

    Jack who comes from a very ordinary hard working family with no connections.

    even if Jack’s site is the better site.

  60. What about hosting such website on web servers, as in a web hosting company hosting such pages, lots of hosts have hundreds of websites and it would be hard to track all sites, would it harm the web hosting main site if they are all hosted under the same IP?

  61. This usually only has an impact on the domain name, IP relevance does not matter in this case.

  62. Why does someone wants to rent you mail server?

  63. I am starting SEO on a new client in the diamond industry and came across this:

    This is part of ‘directory’ website which rents out subdomains. There are quite a few of these in Australia, and I have seen them marketed successfully above other (real) websites.

    Does this count as spam? I know that spam is in the eye of the beholder, but it certainly looks like spam to me. If so, what category do I need to report it under?

    Also, @Why does someone wants to rent you mail server?

    Probably to send out copious amounts of spam.

  64. Matt,

    Okay I know you are well sick of ‘erm but what if…grey areas’ examples but I think mine is a little different.

    Our client has an issue. The site is hosted in Ireland with a .com TLD. Google has more or less decided that the site is of Irish origin serving the Irish market. The site is returned well for search from the Irish datacenter but may as well be invisible in the UK where their real market is. For technical reasons the client cannot migrate the site because the back end is situated in their offices and the front end is attached to it bespokely and hosted on an Irish server. A lot of work went into making sure that is secure and useable.

    Now, here lies the tricky bit… the clients app is well known… it gets pretty good backlinks and amazingly these are not paid or sought they are really good organic ones and growing. Just the way mother used to make! But every backlink I fear is re-enforceing the ‘IRISH SITE, IRISH MARKET’ visablity on google.

    The client really needs to appear in the UK and our suggestion was for them to use their TLD and build another site to service the uk and this would only revert to the .com during a search on the site or when users start through the conversion funnel…

    the problem with this suggestion is that the new site (and it would be a full 30-40 page site) is that there might be no difference between this as a legitimate site and what might be constued as basically a doorway site.

    Can you give at least some form of guidence here … I’m a 100% white hat SEO. I help people who have put obsticles in the way of their own site and what might be otherwise good visability on the SE’s but I will not advise a client to do anything which would have a negative impact on their presence long term.