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Virtual Domains


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19 replies to this topic

#1 excell

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 01:03 PM

I am wondering what others opinions are on the use of virtual domains. I am seeing an increase in these in the travel/accommodation industry. The results that I see are working just fine on the search engines currently, but I wonder about the viability of this technique as a long term exercise.

If under certain (good & competitive) search terms a domain that uses virtual domains dominates the first 5-6 pages of results with virtual domains that are basically cookie cutter (yet may also offer unique content and be very clever about it) is this a good outcome for the searcher? for the search engine? for the web site owner? for the SEO firm? Is it long term? is it good?

I don't like what I see and wonder what others think about it and if they see it lasting and why?

Thought... it's an "easy" enough thing to do and if every one did it ....then where would we be?

It appears to me that the search engines are more capable of filtering out duplicate domains than duplicate content on virtual domains currently.

#2 Jill

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 03:28 PM

I think it's not so much the domain name or it being a virtual domain or sub-domain or whatever.

If the various sites don't have unique content, they should be flagged as such. If they do have unique content, then they should be fine.

It's really the same thing if you're using a new domain, or a new directory within your domain, or whatever. The URL shouldn't be what's important to the search engine or the directory editors. It's only the content that matters.

I know that Google is pretty strict with content that is very similar and generally only shows one version in the SERPs.

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#3 markymark

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 05:50 PM

Is it good for the searcher to have 5-6 pages of results dominated by one company's sites ? No. Surfers want a variety of sources of information, so they can pick and choose and assess their needs better. And that ultimately is why it won't last as a long term strategy.

Trouble is - having a bunch of sites about related topics isn't spam in itself, so that doesn't leave the search engines much choice but to leave them in the index. But it doesn't make for a good search experience or whatever the buzzword for getting good results is these days.

Is it good for the SEO and web site owner ? Initially, yes - the more listings, the more traffic and theoretically, the more bookings or whatever. However, over the medium term, I think the surfing public would become annoyed both at the search engine for providing pages of results from one company and at the company itself - so I can see it backfiring.

#4 robwatts

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 02:37 AM

I agree with the sentiments.

I see some travel sites whereby the owners have bought up literally hundreds of domains and are full of affilaite content of one shape or form.

hotels-location1.tld has content for location1 which in turn links to content housed at hotels-location2.tld which then links to content housed at hotels-location3.tld and so on and so forth. The owners are cautious enough to ensure that not every domain links back to every other domain, although the interlinking is sufficient to create a fair degree of PR.

I checked out one particualar IP address and found that it had over 100 virtual domains all cleverly interlinked and all doing very well.

The hotel sector is dominated by a handful of big providers who are happy to distribute their content to whoever is willing to display it. This presents big opportunities for those who can do well enough.

I initially thought that a SE could perhaps limit any effect of same IP hosted interlinked websites by only counting say, one or two instances ( for PR purposes )and ignoring all of the others, but then all people would do ( and probably are already ) is move content across a variety of IP addresses/hosting providers.

Unless you are an expedia or other very well advertised and financed outfit then it would seem that its simply not enough to create one big travel website with multiple types of accommodation/locations etc.

Its up to the SE's to deal with this. How they do it, is another story!

Edited by robwatts, 28 July 2003 - 02:39 AM.


#5 Alan Perkins

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 05:54 AM

Virtual domains are a valid solution (not necessarily the best) to affiliate marketing.

They are not a solution to search engine marketing. Search engines generally don't want to index multiple affiliates offering little or no unique content.

Search engines are supposed to offer anti-clustering in their search results. This anti-clustering is incredibly primitive at present, where a "cluster" is basically a "domain".

In future I think we will see a "cluster" defined and applied more loosely to communities of pages, irrespective of the URLs or domains of those pages, more defined by the links between them. Then when only one or two pages per cluster are listed, the results should sort themselves out. ;)

#6 markymark

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 07:14 AM

Hi Alan, good to see you here.

Can you just clarify what you are saying here -

Are you saying that the interlinking between a network of sites would be the criteria for clustering results or are you saying that the clustering would ensure that only one or two affiliates for each merchant appear in each SERP ?

#7 excell

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 08:11 AM

I hope it sorts itself out, they are getting bolder. I'm not talking about affiliates in this case, more the evolution of some sites over the years from multiple domains feeding the results from the same database as a way to draw traffic to full blown town by town, type by type, region by region virtual domains. So, under some keyphrases they are all you get in the results.

like:
place1.domain
place2.domain
type1.domain
type2.domain
place1subplace.domain
place1subplace.domain

hundreds of them all cookie cutter in the presentation, template, base content, titles, metas, but with unique content for the stuff in that place.

I guess that as long as the search engines present them people will continue to follow this model. As a user I hate it, because I cannot find a variety of presentations and individual websites to match my search terms and have to try to guess how to get my results without them in it.

I am talking about targeted 3 word terms - the sort of place that used to be relatively good for finding what you wanted easily, not single word or two word phrases that are sort after because they have a higher number of searches performed on them.

If it remains unchecked and say there are 5-6 outfits all doing this it could well push the "real" results down to page 70 or more. ;)

#8 Alan Perkins

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 08:12 AM

Are you saying that the interlinking between a network of sites would be the criteria for clustering results

Yes. This is a strong possibility IMO.

e.g. think of how Teoma works with "clusters". Then picture the SERPs organised such that, instead of "More results from xyz.com", it read "More results from this cluster", and that only one or two results per cluster were listed by default.

#9 excell

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 08:17 AM

IMO that would be a good move and far easier to find things. What do you think of this "cluster" model from the user perspective?

#10 Alan Perkins

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 08:22 AM

I think it would be a good thing - or could be made to be a good thing, anyway. ;)

excell, I'd be interested in whether (with your test "travel" search) Teoma's results are similarly dominated by these cookie-cutter sites.

#11 excell

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 08:27 AM

OK.. I will go look see, I have about 4 examples.. any other engines I should check on? (I happily note the human editored directories seem to have their number :aloha:)

#12 Alan Perkins

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 08:33 AM

No, just Google and Teoma should do. :aloha:

#13 markymark

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 08:40 AM

I also think it would be a good thing for users. I've just booked a holiday and I found Google next to useless due to exactly the problem Excell is describing. In the end, we booked it through GoingPlaces on Chatham High Street. I'm not sure I tried Ask/Teoma though I did give MSN a go - with pretty much the same results as I got from Google. IE: utter rubbish.

This kind of thing is one of the reasons there is less use of the web than there should be. It should be easier to find and compare prices, facilities etc online than offline. Not more difficult and more time consuming.

#14 excell

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 08:43 AM

Under the search terms I checked, teoma is just putting them in the normal results (not handling them specially).

BUT teoma is not giving them such a dominating presence and their are other websites up there mixed in with them, whereas google has very few other sites anywhere in the top few (5 or so) pages.

#15 Matt B

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 08:45 AM

And this is the reason that I tend to use the larger sites, such as priceline, expedia, etc. The rest of the industry is so wrought with useless info, that it makes it near impossible for the "little guy" to compete.

BTW - Good to see you, Alan. :aloha:




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