Writing real articles takes a lot of time. So the question is why bother? This is clearly a question that some sites have already made a decision on. Lets face it, if you have real people generating content, you also have the requirement for editors, and other boring overheads that add costs.

The solution is simple, create a web site that contains no actual real information. Feed in some basic data and voilla, you have hundreds of thousands of pages with nothing of use, but the site scores high with Google, and when you slap on some adverts, well, you just sit back and count the money rolling in.

I call these sites Empty Nests. Your search term will take you right to them, but when you arrive you find nothing whatsoever of any interest. In an article by Google’s web spam guru Matt Cutts he explained that it is a recognized issue, and his team were working on it. Fix it soon Matt!

Movies, music, and restaurants seem to be the prime targets that I see, but I am sure there are many others. In Microsoft’s web development tool FrontPage there is a menu item Create Empty Web, it is harmless, it means that a folder will be created where you can put content. The empty web concept has been taken to new heights by some sites.

You don’t believe me?

Today I hung up my microphone after hosting a 90 minute radio program. My wife wanted to know what was going to be for dinner. ‘Something simple’ was my response. A little bit of negotiation revealed that her choice was a take away from a local Chinese Restaurant. I rather like the buffet to go, Jan prefers one item off the menu. As I spend almost all my waking hours sat in front of keyboards and monitors I decided to check the menu. It was possible that something would leap out at me.

A Google search on Panda Palace, Picayune revealed:

googlepanda.png

I know that it is hard to read, so let me help you. The number one hit says:

Panda Palace Chinese Restaurant – View the menu for Panda Palace Chinese Restaurant as well as maps, restaurant reviews for Panda Palace Chinese Restaurant

This sounds good, doesn’t it? I had already eaten there, but I was marginaly interested in the reviews. I always enjoy what others have to say about food, music, books, and just about everything else. My main concern and interest though was the menu, the site states:

View the menu for Panda Palace Chinese Restaurant

I clicked, and here came the empty nest!

menupix.png

The very name of the site Menupix is misleading. There was no picture of the menu, in fact the Google map and street view used is incorrect. They missed the building by almost 10 blocks!

Menupix smells bad. I am sure that they do indeed have a few menus online, they may even have a few reviews. But to me they are the perfect example of the Empty Nest web site.

I decided to run a very unscientific test, I ran them through Alexa. Before everyone starts the hate mail, Alexa is just a weather vane. It does no more than give a general direction of the wind.

Menupix is doing well.
alexashot.png
If someone could offer an explanation as to why this Empty Nest does so well, I am all ears. We have an Empty Nest that according to Alexa is in the top 30,000 sites visited world wide! I have picked on Menupix, but they are the just tip of the iceberg.  It is time that the Empty Nest was outed. Any fool can pick up yellow pages on a few cd’s, a little bit of school boy smarts, you too can be the proud owner of an Empty Nest. Beauty Salons, Acupuncture, Tarot card readings, the options are endless. But, people that are searching the internet are not looking for empty nest sites. People are looking for information.

By the way, the food from Panda (whatever) was quite good. No thanks to Menupix.

When you search on a topic that I have written you will find a real article. Not an invite to be the first to comment on it! If I say here is the damn menu from some restaurant, I will have the damn menu. The Empty Nest issue needs to be addressed by not just Google, but all of the companies involved in search.

Simon Barrett

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