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Monday, April 02, 2007

Is WebHealth.com Search Engine Spam or Domain Parking 2.0?

This WebHealth.com project is intriguing. I can't figure out, though, if it's "domain parking 2.0" or another form of search engine spam. A whole slew of previously parked domains are being redirected to the webhealth.com site which is using a wiki to build content. On the one hand, that sounds like a good move, to create some useful content instead of a parked domain serving ads with no real content. OTOH, seeing a wiki plastered with PPC ads (Yahoo! Search Marketing ads, in this case) looks kind of spammy. Here's a current snapshot of their "About WebHealth" page:

About WebHealth on WebHealth.com

Hmm, no content. All ads. Looks like spam. What else is in the WebHealth.com footer? Let's see:

WebHealth.com footer

Maybe they just haven't finished building the site and that's why the "About WebHealth" has no content (but why would it have ads?). Here's the "Disclaimers" page:

WebHealth.com Disclaimer

Why would they have created that page but not the other footer page? That's odd. Still, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, here, and will revisit the site in a few weeks to see if the About page has been populated with useful content. It'll be interesting to see what search engines like Google make of the site.

Definitely looks like an ambitious project and will be one to watch. To give you an idea of the scale of the project, here are some of the parked domains that now point to this wikified site: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . I suspect that's just the tip of the domain name iceberg. Note how these domains redirect to the new wiki webhealth.com site:

$ curl -Is headcolds.com |grep -i http
HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Location: http://headcolds.webhealth.com/wiki/Sinusitis

So, what do you think? Is WebHealth.com "domain parking 2.0" or search engine spam?

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Frank Michlick said...

That's not a serious question, is it?

The site provides tons of valuable unique content written by a Doctor (Frank's father) as a starting point. Search engine spamming does not usually contain real content made for real users, does it.

Three ads on top of the pages, mostly within the search pages, does this really mean the site is "plastered" with ads?

While many domains are pointed to the site, they are pointed with a 302 redirect. No one is hiding that the names are redirected and they are pointed to real content within the site.

The domains in the network that are pointed to the site receive mostly direct navigation traffic to this point, meaning people type in the domain into the search bar.

http://depressed.com/

Also let's not forget it's still an experiment at his point, so it is "under construction". My conclusion would be that the webhealth site is already providing more value than many other sites on the Internet.

Tue Apr 03, 03:03:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first glimpse at webhealth.com makes me feel that it could be an originalsite carrying honest, unique content.

A second look, however, reveals the fully blended ads on top of the pages (a technique to trick visitors into clicking an ad) and the completely unrelated search links on the left bar (again, leading just to more ads).

Now add the multiple domain thing that Richard has discovered, and I am convinced that this site is up for the money ONLY, acquiring cheap traffic and trying to make the visitors click the ads.

So, for me, Richard's original question is very serious, and I think the answer is "both".

Wed Apr 04, 03:27:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

Hi Frank. Hope your new venture is going well.

Yes, this is a serious question. I do think it's an interesting experiment. I wonder, though, if it's an indication that direct navigation traffic is actually not sufficient. Take the case of the depressed.com domain. Is the traffic being routed to webhealth.com to enhance the experience for visitors who get to that domain via direct navigation traffic or is it an attempt to get some search engine traffic?

Thu Apr 05, 10:03:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh brother, it has nothing to do with the engines. It has to do with going around the engines to bring a million people a month to a website in an organic and benmign way. RE:"A second look, however, reveals the fully blended ads on top of the pages (a technique to trick visitors into clicking an ad)" -- That is the funniest comment because as Frank Michlick pointed out, thats no different than 99% of the sites on the web which diplay advertising (including the blue and yellow shaded ads they serve)

Sat Apr 07, 07:54:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

Yes, Frank Michlick makes some good points. I'm not saying WebHealth.com is search engine spam, nor am I saying it's the "new" domain parking. I'm just asking the question.

If I were the owner of WebHealth.com, I'd start by only having a couple of ads and at the *bottom* of the page. Put the information first. Since Wikipedia has been reluctant to display ads, I think a wiki with ads is going to seem spammy, whether or not it actually is.

BTW, I'll be taking down the PPC ads soon. Those are just for tracking impressions. I'm curious to see how many people type the domain name into a Google search box (instead of the browser address bar).

Sat Apr 07, 10:32:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Frank Michlick said...

@Richard: Thanks for asking about the startup, yes - all is well and hopefully we'll be able to tell you more about it soon.

While wikipedia is not about ads and is financed by donations only, the founder's new site, wikia.com also has ads in the sidebar. Does a site being a wiki or a blog mean that you cannot monetize it?

@Anonymous(1):
How come the website has information when it could only only have advertising?

If every website would just be about giving away free content, there would be no commerce on the web and less websites to start with.

Search engines have their ads on the top and on the side, anyone complaining about that? Many users still do not realize that those are ads.

The other domains being pointed to this site does not have anything to do with search engine spamming. Domains such as depressed.com get type-in traffic just by being out there, there's no need to spam search engines to get that traffic.

Users actually browse the web. Think of the literal meaning, as in browsing a store, just looking around to see what it's there. So to many users it does not make a difference if it's an ad what they are clicking on if they are getting what they are looking for.

---

The answer is "both". It's a new version of parking that provides space for real user value and participation. I see this as a valuable experiment, thanks Frank S.

Sat Apr 07, 01:34:00 PM EDT  

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