Nobody Buys a Business.com Directory Listing for Traffic...

4 comments

Especially when their category pages look like this. Featured, sponsored, more featured, more sponsored, more featured, more sponsored, listings (some paid), sponsored, side sponsored links.

That is possibly the most disorganized commercial listing set I have ever seen. 15 ads by Google mixed around the 12 house ads and other paid and editorial listings. Why is Google indexing their own paid ads AND their own search results (look at the web listings here)? What makes that model legitimate? Just the domain name and scale?

Nice placement of content in this popular category too. Put the meat above the fold. That has to be one of the best resources on the web.

Given Business.com's nearly unusable format, blatent content recycling, and recent abuse of nofollow why does Google continue to trust this site? Is this really what Google wants the web to become?

Comments

i have no idea what you're talking about

blending content and ads in such a way that an average user will never be able to differentiate between the two is just fine.

ethical, that is.

it think.

i mean, google go out of their way to encourage it, yeah? so it's not against their TOS, strictly speaking....

That is possibly the most disorganized commercial listing set I have ever seen.... What makes that model legitimate? Just the domain name and scale?

good question. to investigate, let's take a look at gigantic scraper/aggregator businesses like Answers.com. they have a massive, undeniable, 11-year-old authority domain. and because of that they will keep marching the road of bones, getting credit for smashing together content they didn't create until the sun goes dark. which depresses me.

and look at their ad presentation - mixed right in with all the content they scraped, waiting for your click... i typed in [whores] and the first thing i see on the page is an ad from SinglesNet with the title "Friends With Benefits".

compelling, and rich.

>why does Google continue to

>>why does Google continue to trust this site?

Don't know but they do; and it's the only reason to pay those rather high fees. It irks me with every renewal to have good client sites in that crap...

blending can be dangerous...

Quote:
blending content and ads in such a way that an average user will never be able to differentiate between the two is just fine.

No - actually if you are not careful you can run aground of the FTC which has previously declared that in cases like search engine results, advertising content needs to be clearly noted so that consumers will not be mislead. See:

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/dotcom/index.pdf

http://searchenginewatch.com/showPage.html?page=2164891

In my opinion based on the example pages linked-to in this thread, Business.com is dancing just a bit close to the fine line of the FTC's guidelines. Demarkations between "Sponsored Links", "Featured Listings" and other content on the page has been purposefully made to be less likely to be identified by users. The demarkation lines are extremely faint gray, and the sponsored labels are also a lighter text color and very small print. As a user, I'm a bit confused as to what differentiates between "Featured Listings" and "Sponsored Links", since a number of the Featured listings really look like ads to me.

They need to be careful or else the FTC could declare that their layout is purposefully deceptive to users.

More concerning to me as a site designer, however, is the overly cluttered arrangement of content. It seems likely to me that a site which could strike users as being too choked up with ads is going to be less usable and less bookmarked for future use. Ease of use and the perception of quality could impact their future SERP rankings as well, since quality scoring seems to be an increasingly impactful signal for Google - in both SEO and SEM.

My former company struggled with this issue as well - how much ad content is too much, and how should it be arranged on the pages? We went through cycles of simplifying and reducing ads only to later increase them - an ongoing back and forth adjustment as usability and usage research weighed towards fewer ads, while some marketing and sales people pushed back towards ever larger amounts of ad content.

On the internet, it's not necessary to fill all whitespace. ;-)

@ Silver

actually if you are not careful you can run aground of the FTC which has previously declared that in cases like search engine results, advertising content needs to be clearly noted so that consumers will not be mislead

i couldn't agree more - i was being a bit facetious in my previous post. in the interest of full disclosure, it bears mentioning that i've seen, participated in, and support a bit of "creative presentation" of ads for smaller webmasters duking it out with the big boys. i'm all for the little guy making a living.

however, for any site that's a huge bruiser, it does strike me as a little queasy on the ethical side, and perhaps outright dangerous on the legal side, to start getting too tricky with blending ads and content.

case in point, i was on about.com's arthritis channel. the left nav is chunked into sections, but i wasn't reading the headings, rather just skimming for a link that seemed relevant. i found one in the second section of the nav for a high-volume head term, [Rheumatoid Arthritis], above the fold, and clicked it. it took me to this page. without my browser maximized to full-screen, i couldn't even see the full "Sponsored Links" heading on the right hand side, neither could i see their explanation of what this page was, buried below the fold in the footer.

the left nav of every category-specific subdomain is organized this way. to me, that's pretty tricky, and borderline shitty. the average user probably isn't expecting a link at the top of the left nav for a head term to take them to a page of contextual ads.

hat tip to graywolf for calling attention to about.com MFA spam last fall.

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