Sorry, but this is Business.

Jan 9, 2009 at 5:34 PM
Hi. You know I don't write about work, but I wanted to post a warning. If you are one of my personal readers, skip this post.

I care about my job. I have integrity and ethics despite being in a field FULL of PR spinners and scammers. SEO and website design. It's my pet peeve when someone I work with gets scammed or treated poorly, or simply gets the shaft end of the stick.

I have a client that I spent time and effort helping to reach #1 in search for all their terms. I built them a beautiful website, perfect and cleanly coded, that performed beautifully in search. It ranked like a pro, consistently for years.

Overnight, that site dropped out of search. We spent a while trying to find out why, and I discovered when talking about PPC with them what had happened. They lost all their rank because they hired a PPC firm that created a mirror site. A complete duplicate of their website, that was put up entirely to generate PAID clicks.

Duplicate content is a well known no-no in internet design. Never make duplicates of the content on your primary website. It gets you dropped like a hot potato.

So, basically, creating a mirror site for PPC that makes you lose all natural traffic only benefits one person, the firm that is managing the PPC campaign. They make more money because the only site that shows up in search is the paid one.

Money-motivated people in my business make me soooo angry.

Anyway, anyone worth their salt as a company should have known this - that mirror sites are a very bad move.

Usually, the best you can do with Google -- to manage a good PPC (pay per click) campaign -- is to really train up on them, read all their inhouse training, read up from experts and also have a contact at Google if you can, or at least read up on the work-related blogs of everyone you can at Google. I continue to do all that, and it works beautifully.

Anyway, This firm that made the mirror site controls the domain that has the mirror site on it, basically making it impossible to control the domain or the website directly. Domain controls are just conveniently missing from the interface. All you can do is carefully review the "leads" they send. So you're totally at their mercy.

It's terrible form to forcibly require someone's cooperation from you and thereby keep your clients. It's totally uncool to make someone keep paying you in order to keep things going smoothly. It's totally uncool to not turn over domain controls.

And the quality of leads they sent was abysmal, as far as actual leads go. Lots of bad clicks, mostly.

So basically, they -- either maliciously or accidentally -- screwed over my client. Years of hard work to get natural search rankings were undone overnight. It's fixable, but not by them.

Stay away, people, or at least make sure you control any domains and websites that they use.

You're warned.


  1. desi Says:

    The company this post is about:

  2. How horrible. It is so unethical to convince someone you are doing them a service to benefit them and not follow through. I understand making money but not at the expense of integrity.

  3. Melissa B. Says:

    I'm glad I read this post...I'm a blogger who knows basically zip about the Internet. I've been asked to guest-blog over at another site, and was considering using one of my previous posts from my site. Are you saying don't do it?

    Thanks so much for your kind comments the other day about Yoshio, the DC homeless man who was killed on Christmas Eve. The paper, actually, had a beautiful story and picture today. I'm going to talk more about Yoshio next week. Thanks for caring!

  4. C.S. Perry Says:

    Okay. I skipped it.
    But I'm not sure if I'm "Personal" or not.

  5. Court Says:

    I am Court Cunningham, CEO of Yodle and I’d like to talk with you to better understand the basis for your comments in this post. Yodle provides significant value to thousands of local businesses by driving as many online leads for them as possible. Regarding your specific comments about the manner in which we deploy our clients web sites, I assure you that we use best practices given our experience with nearly 5,000 clients. In addition, Yodle is proud of our status as a Strategic Alliance Partner/Reseller with Google - It requires a significant investment and enables us to provide superior service, support and results -

    Again, I’d like to discuss further if you would accept my invitation. Please email info at to contact me. Thank You.


  6. I read it, but I don't think I fully understood it. Sounds frustrating, at any rate.

  7. desi Says:

    @Melissa B - A single blog post probably wouldn't be a problem. This was total duplication of their entire website.

    @Court - What your efforts produced is the only thing I have to judge your company by. I have about 8 years of personal history in this business. Your business practices are antipathetic to mine. Regardless of what you think of them. And you really ought to have known about mirror sites being a HUGE no-no. Please don't ever do them for anyone, ever. We lost rank on every term overnight. And that was abysmal for my one client, as you can imagine. You actually had already lost their business for poor PPC results before the mirror site wads discovered as a problem. So as far as I'm concerned, it was a negative result all the way 'round. I'm not the client and I am too busy fixing the problem to work with a no-longer-active PPC account. I'm not interested in further discussion here on my personal blog either.

  8. desi Says:

    Here is what Google says about duplicate content, of which mirror sites are a particularly nasty brand:

  9. Shelley Says:

    So my comment to this is you got them to #1. They were f'ing idiots to go elsewhere and perhaps they got what they deserved?

  10. desi Says:

    @Shelley Side effect of being so laid back and un-self-promoting I guess. Other people usually walk into my shoes and tell clients THEY DID IT!!! Loud. This happens regularly with this client.

    So I don't end up with credit. Don't need credit. I don't have to self-promote, the clients do it for me.

    And that client is back at #1 again. I solved it good. Proud.

    I love my job.