Today I’m going to show you how to take those grey-hat web sites that have been profiting off your back in the search engine results and make their listings drive traffic to YOU! Blogging Mistake: Not paying attention to my SERP’s more closely!
It seems it’s always difficult to write in the morning for me sometimes. I don’t know why, but no matter how much sleep I get – I never seem to wake up until around 10am or so. Well, in order to jump start things today I went to get a large diet pop and that big shot of caffeine is definitely helping. Alright, I won’t lie – I got a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit to go with it, and the greasy hash browns too. So now, with my belly full of really bad food I shouldn’t be eating, and all hopped up on caffeine I’m ready to go. I don’t have a lot of time before this food makes me sleep and want a nap, so let’s get started, today’s lesson is pretty simple and you probably hadn’t thought of this before.
There are numerous factors used in the search engines determining how you rank in the result pages, and where you appear in those pages determines how much traffic you will gain from them. The rankings of course, are determined by backlinks, popularity, authority, etc. So then, are you surprised at times which pages rank towards to the top? I find it very interesting who ranks and who doesn’t on the first few pages, and even though I can change my own ranking, sometimes I can’t do anything about other sites who I feel are ranking well because of me.
Directories used to be a great source of backlinks. Some still are, although the top web directories are probably the only ones worth your time nowadays, and many of those charge a fee for listing – they may as well be ‘selling links’. With the advent of RSS, I’ve found that a few smart grey-hats have started their own ‘directories’ using several methods that I think of as quasi-questionable.
We’re going to start at Google and do a search for one of my first web sites, The Smorgasbord. I just did a simple search for the domain. The first result is my site’s homepage, which is good. I’d be worried if I wasn’t first. And the next few results are places linking back to me. But take a look at result #5, which comes from millionrss dot com. It looks like a scraper site doesn’t it? It has my title and description (an older version), and their url contains both my site name and description. So when you click on it you are taken to a page that seems be ‘about’ my site. You see my site name and title, then some ads, then a small screenshot, my blog and feed url, description, and some code I can add to ‘bump’ my blog higher in their listings. Then you have some more ads. Then you have a bunch of ways to subscribe to my site feed using various services, and then the latest headlines from my rss feed are listed and linked.
How do I feel about this site? Well, they say under their logo that millionrss is a project to “organise and collect over 1,000,000 RSS feeds”. While I’m sure that’s their ultimate goal, the underlying factor is to organize and gather a million feeds to draw intense traffic from google and make tens of thousands of dollars per month from their advertising revenue. It’s a grey-hat splog type site – plain and simple. Not really a scraper site since they don’t steal your content, but they do use your name and description, in addition to titles of your latest feed items to gain their SERP’s.
What can you do about this? Probably not much. It’s not like google is going to remove their SERP listings. And I’m sure even if you contacted them it would be very difficult to remove your listings. Even though I don’t like this site or agree with their tactics, if the site grows and gains in popularity it could be a valuable backlink. Your choices are limited at this site, but you can use the contact link to ask them to update your listing if it contains inaccurate information. You can also click on “add feed” and manually add your own listing in if you want to add other sites. There aren’t a lot of options here, use the ones you have available.
Now let’s look at the sixth result from megite.com. Wow, this is a different kind of site that bills itself as a “social news aggregator”. This site is grabbing titles and URL’s of pages and clustering them together on pages by keyword. The result we followed from the google results page to this one is a page of links all about “ffmpeg”. I got listed on this page because I have a tutorial page on converting video using ffmpeg. While not nearly as annoying as millionrss, this site also contains google adsense ads on every page. I’m sure with some good listings in SERP pages they make hundreds if not thousands of dollars every day.
What can you do here? Well, for starters you can get a bookmark account on this site – do that first. Then add some bookmarks to web sites you own. Then go back to the ‘Discovery Engine’ homepage and start doing searches for the root URL’s for site’s you own. One not yet listed will display a submission form and you can enter and tag them. Then do searches for various keywords related to your site and see if you come up. You can bookmark those pages as well. When you bookmark you can add keyword descriptions as well. If this site is going to index and ride off of your web pages and links, add, tag, and describe as many of them as you can and take advantage of their SERP sucking ways – and use them to your advantage. If you add enough related items on your bookmark page, you can even give that it’s own PR over time. I can attest to the fact that pages I bookmarked were being found (in megite.com bookmark pages) by the googlebot within 48 hours. I have a google alert set that told me as soon as they showed up.
As you go through search results, you have to decide for yourself which of these ‘grey-hat’ sites you will participate in. Some are just entirely waaaay to spammy or ad laden for me to even deal with, like the crap listed over at start aid dot com. But there are some places that might just be worth you spending many hours setting up custom pages. One would be Squidoo.com, where you can setup a custom “lens” or web page with content related to a particular topic you might be an expert in. Think of it as an article directory, but even more since you can control and updated the content and layout of your “lens” or page, but you can even add lots of links back to your and other site(s), including affilitate links. Since Squidoo gets lots of traffic, you can really benefit from becoming one of their “experts” in terms of both money and traffic. They, in turn, also get more traffic, another very focused ‘expert’ page of content, and they serve ads on those pages as well.
A site that I recently noticed that is kind of a combination of Squidoo and some of my earlier examples is AboutUs.org. I actually didn’t find this one in the SERP’s for my site, but in my web site statistics under the ‘referrers’ section. People were coming from this site to mine – they were already sending me traffic. Unlike the previous two examples I showed you, this type of ‘grey-hat directory’ is a little less grey and a little more white. What I mean is, the ads are a lot less intrusive, and what they allow and let you customize on your “page” is absolutely awesome!
Check this out, here’s a listing of one of my web sites www.cellphonehowto.com. So aboutus.org has a crawler that trolls the web and gathers various bits of information about it. They grab your title and description, language, related domains (combination of sites linked and hosted on the same box), and links to alexa and whois information. Aboutus.org is a “wiki”, which means that all the pages are completely editable – just like Wikipedia. This means that you COMPLETELY control the page for your web site. Take full advantage of this – and edit your title, and description, add all kinds of information in the ‘additional information’ section, change the related links – and by adding all kinds of keyword rich and relevant content to this page it can become a really effective doorway to more traffic for you!
Since the site is a “wiki” – it means that anyone can edit a page (including your competition). I strongly suggest that you check the box to be notified of changes, so if anyone else decides to leave unsavory comments about you – you can change them back. If you have repeated problems, you can report the IP address they were coming from. Chances are everything will be fine. The page you end up building, which is a mini-description of your site, is like I said in the title of this article – it can end up “like gold” for you. Don’t you wish you had this much control over you listing in every web directory your site had an entry in?
This just goes to show how important it is to manage your online profiles, contacts, and basically your ‘reputation’ throughout different sites anyway. You may not want to participate in (very many of) these grey-hat sites that steal your basic information and toss it into a ‘listing engine’ or directory just to gain SERP listings and make money from ads. BUT…how far removed is their basic principle from reputable sites liked Technorati, Digg, or YouTube? All three profit from other people’s content as well, and 2 out of the three don’t host anything. I’m just saying, make the most of all your avenues and abilities to setup a ‘profile’ or description page.
3 Actions You Should Take Right Now
- Check your SERP pages for www.yoursite.com and find other sites using your information to get top listings
- Modify every listing the best you can to take full advantage of those SERP placements
- Modify all your current online profiles in social network sites to try and gain better SERP placements so you can eventually replace those more unsavory listings with your own
- To do this, make sure you have an account (if you don’t already) in all the following places
You would be surprised if you work those profiles constantly how you can dominate the first 3 pages of SERP’s with yoru own listings. I have been surprised as I’ve watched results for other sites. Work that list, and spend a little time each day doing something in at least one or more of those accounts. Have I completed my profile in all these places? No. Will I? Yes. I can honestly say as well, that the work I’ve done so far in both StumbleUpon and Technorati has resulted in some serious traffic to several of my sites. Some of the other sites are contributing as well. I have an account at dozens and dozens of other social sites – but these are the ones I will focus on right now. Also, in regards to the ‘grey-hat’ sites in my SERP listings – I have modified a few, but I will definitely spend a great deal of time working within aboutus.org – because it seems to have the most flexibility and potential to give both good backlinks as well as refer traffic.
Do you have directory, service, or profile sites that have greatly benefited you in SERP’s? Please comment now and let everyone know!
I’m working on this one myself, and last night I completed my Linked In Profile.
Will you take action?