Here’s a funny SEO story. Dealer.com sites do really, really well in the search engine rankings. If you’re not familar, Dealer.com makes sites for auto dealers – they’re mostly pretty much just cookie cutter sites and you can spot them a mile away. Also I think a lot of different dealers are forced to use them by the parent company.
Well if you look at them, they’re not really set up for SEO really well. They don’t have a lot of great keyword-rich text and aren’t built that well.
“So how do they rank?”, I wondered. I picked one dealer site at random and looked at their backlinks using Open Site Explorer. They had a lot of good backlinks but one in particular caught my eye. It was dodgepedia.org (http://www.dodgepedia.org/ – Not linking to them in order to not give them any more backlinks. Not like my little site matters much, but still.)
It you take a look at Dodgepedia, you’ll see a lot of interesting things. It looks like a spam site but it actually has (what appears to be) quality unique content.
They also have a “Dealers” link which is just a directory of Dodge dealers. If you visit the dealers linked from this page, guess what? They’re ALL Dealer.com sites.
Then check out the other link at the top: Automopedia.org (http://www.automopedia.org/). The have a “Find a Dealer” link with a directory of dealers throughout the US. The only dealers with working links on this directory are, that’s right, Dealer.com sites.
It gets better though! In the top right is a list of brands:
Each one of these links to another directory site, for instance Acurapedia, Chevroletpedia, Lexuspedia, etc. Each one of these sites has it’s own content and links back to Dealer.com’s multitude of sites.
What This Means
It’s no wonder that Dealer.com sites can outrank almost any other auto dealer site. The resources they put towards this is astounding, at least for the amount of content they need to produce. But really for the payoff of having hundreds of car dealers rank high, it’s probably WELL worth it.
It’s also an indictment of Google/Bing and their algorithms. If someone can game the system like this and get away with it, beating out the “good guys” or white hat SEOs in the process, then why should we all continue to play by the rules?
I’m not saying what they’re doing is bad, just that it sucks that anyone who wants to compete with them will have to also resort to these sorts of linkbuilding tactics. It’s an argument for content farms, spam directory sites and grey hat linkbuilding.
Again, not a bad thing, but this reinforced my decision to jump into grey hat linkbuilding and I have no qualms about it whatsoever.