More on “Cheater” Landing Pages…

This post started as a reply to Bryan in my “Cat’s Out of the Bag” post.  It got long and it’s useful information so I promoted it to a post.  It’s a good look into how I use the strategy Amish exposed and, more importantly, my mindset when it comes to gimmicks and tricks in marketing.

Here’s Bryan’s original comment and my reply…

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Hi Matt,

If you are scraping from wikipedia relating to a keyword for your Iframe Magic page, how come google does not recognise it as duplicate content?

If a complaint was made to google by their scouts or your competition the site would inevitably be slapped.

How could you get around this Matt?

Thanks Matt

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@Bryan… The duplicate content scare is mostly a myth.  There are definitely ways to get penalized for trying to game google with duplicate content and syndicated sites… but most marketers will never suffer from it.  I won’t go into any more depth here… but the duplicate content penalty isn’t what you think.

The second statement is my bigger concern.  Human reviews are always a roll of the dice.  I have yet to have one of my hidden content pages slapped.  And while I can’t say exactly why that is, I do have some theories…

1. I consistently rotate content, pages and offers.  Most of this is just the nature of marketing.  I rarely have a single offer run untouched for more than several weeks at a time… usually far less.  And typically these “cheater” pages only stay up long enough for me to get to #5 below.

2. I only use public domain "scrapes" for my content.  Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers, articles, etc. are "clean" ways of getting content.  Search results are questionable, but can be effective.  I stay away from blatant site rips.

3. I routinely use content cloaking on my landing pages.  The content cloaking is more of a by-product of how I present my landing pages, though.  I optimize by keyword and rotate different content based on the search keyword.  That means my ads typically point to a "clean" landing page that is dynamically served with different content based on different user agents and sources.  It’s a little complex… and considerably more advanced than the script Amish shared.

4. I know and understand that Google at some point will probably take measures to make this less effective.  They are doing stuff like that *all* the time.  I can’t sit around wringing my hands over what they might do tomorrow… when I know something that works today.  That’s a common mistake I watch people make all the time.  Frankly, it’s one of the reasons I was irritated when Amish made the video… exposure usually leads to closure where Google is concerned.  And then I’ll move on to something else.

5. Because of #4, I don’t rely on this for a significant portion of my sites or offers.  As I mentioned in my post, I use this mostly for quickly testing markets and establishing back-end conversion ratios.  If the numbers prove hopeful (which most don’t) I "graduate" the campaign to dedicated landing pages and a more complete marketing effort.

I started doing this as an improvement on the Commission Blueprint method taught by Steve Clayton and Tim Godfrey.  The whole process led me to create the spec for Ad Grenade as a way to throw up massive amounts of campaigns very, very quickly… and without having to create landing pages for everything.

Most of those campaigns are losers.  That’s just the way it works.  I’ve learned to hate wasting my time creating entire campaigns that will simply never make money.  It’s slow, expensive and frustrating.

So instead I start off with a cheater campaign that I can get up and running with essentially a small amount of keyword research and nothing more.  I start the campaign with cheater landing pages and a basic keyword list exploded by Ad Grenade.

I really just want to see the traffic, costs and conversions for the keywords.  I may tinker with the ads… but mostly I want to know if it’s worth my time and energy to build out a complete campaign for a product.

Most keywords and cheater pages bite the dust within a week.  Those that survive typically get a complete makeover into first-class landing- and pre-sell pages.  And the cheater pages are gone there, as well.

Every once in awhile I find a keyword that I can’t improve on with my own landing pages.  On those rare occasions I’ll run that specific keyword through the cheater page long-term.  I can probably count on my fingers the number of times that’s happened.  (By the way, there’s a hint in that paragraph about an AdWords trick that gets around just about all of Google’s limitations).

Okay… does that make sense?

In a nutshell… Yes, there’s risk to doing this.  No, you shouldn’t be afraid of Google.  Yes, you should take action.  No, this isn’t a magic long-term cure all for stupid and lazy marketers.

3 Comments More on “Cheater” Landing Pages…

  1. Bryan

    Thanks Matt for replying so quickly.

    This clears up a lot of confusion I have had and will be eagerly following your future comments.

    Cheers.

  2. Luke

    Hey Matt,
    Just wondering what your thoughts are about QS on cheater campaigns? I was trying one on a acai offer and my relevance and performance were OK but the landing page QS was poor according to adwords.

    I set up a single post with short form original content and clear call to action plus links to more resources and privacy, TOS, etc. I was using this as the content for the iframe. Then I tried some dynamically scraped SERP’s and rss feeds for content. Same result.

    Very limited test but are google onto this or do they not like acai offers?

    Cheers again,
    Luke.

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