I like the Internet, it is a wonderful reporitory of information, if you know where to look, it is also a huge vast black hole of useless data designed to make a quick buck. An entire industry has cropped up that is out to ‘game’ the search engines. The favorite of which is Google. Google has become a huge, albeit unwitting player in the Internet game.

With Google having such a large proportion of the Search Engine traffic it is not surprising that they are the biggest target. Their Adsense program has led to huge monetary gains for sleazy sites. The scams are endless, one of the favorites is to register a URL that is a misspelled version of a well known site and load it with ad’s. When a person mistypes the address, and this is a numbers game, they are taken to a scam site. I don’t think I want to cite any exact examples, as I have no interest in assisting these people. Every click on one of these sites represents money. It is a very small amount, but those fractions of pennies add up.

These sites are insidious and should be shut down. But, who wants to act as the policeman? The search engine companies are caught in a catch twenty two, but are they fueling the fire? Advertisers want the exposure, the search engines want the revenue, but, are the advertisers getting a decent bang for their buck?

A worse kind of scam is the ‘Empty Nest’ web site. This is the situation where you do a Google search on a company, a person, or in my experience today, a restaurant. As a frequent user of Google, I decided to look up a local eating establishment in order to find a menu. I plugged in the restaurant name and the small town that we live in. There were thousands of hits!

I plowed my way through several pages. Each one said essentially the same thing, they promised menu’s and reviews, yet every single one of them had the same ‘be the first to leave a review’, and ‘be the first to upload the menu’ advice.

These web sites, and there are many, somehow they have garnered ‘Google Juice’ without any real content. As with most data, the basic information is available for a cheap price. All you need is Yellow Pages in a digital version, a little programming know how, and suddenly you have a 20,000, 50,000, or even more, page website.

Do not think that this is limited to Reastaurants, Hotels, or Stores, in fact every possible industry  and service suffers from the same abuse. I know that Matt Cutts of the Google Web Spam team is acutely aware of the issue, he has talked about it on more than one occasion. Yet nothing seems to have happened to date.

The ‘Empty Nest’ web site is a totally useless resourse. Of course the ‘Empty Nest’ always has that advertising ‘juice’. I like sites with meat! Yet the ‘Empty Nest’ seems to rule the internet at the moment.

Simon Barrett

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