One of my favorite sites that I read daily is Business Insider, a site which meshes together technology news with business and finance news, combining all of my favorite topics. On occasion we are fortunate to be included in Business Insider’s site, however more recently there have been a number of instances where we weren’t so grateful. On Friday we became the victim of Business Insider’s dirty SEO tactics.
Business Insider As An Aggregator
Before jumping into the technical tricks being used by the Business Insider team, I think it’s important to highlight the company’s overall strategy. Rather than just posting articles that were created internally, the company “links” to other sites that they believe have relevant content to their readers. The result is that the site becomes a news aggregator for their target market.
It’s an interesting tactic and one that I’ve regularly considered here at Social Times. The reason is that it can actually add value to the reader, while simultaneously increasing your site’s search engine traffic. Even if reposting an article only gets you a few hits, it only takes a couple seconds to repost someone else’s content.
While I haven’t seen Business Insider’s internal system, I can only assume that they have a list of blogs which they follow regularly (this one of which they also follow, something I’m personally flattered by). If they want to repost the article they can click a few links and they’re good to go. Makes sense.
Where Things Get Dirty
On Friday I found out that the company plays a dirtier trick in which they don’t even publicly link to you, but instead index the title, first couple sentences, and link back to your RSS feed (not your actual website). It’s the exact same trick that splogs use, except splogs take your entire content, whereas Business Insider is “polite enough” to limit their citation to a few sentences.
Did I give them permission to do this? Nope. In fact, I actually rejected a second opportunity to have one of my articles reposted on their site after a previous incident. Business Insider republished one of my articles (under my permission) and now shows up in Google for one of my target keywords. While I would have imagined that Google would be smart enough to realize that I was the original source, for the time being, Business Insider is the site which will get most of the traffic from my content.
After learning my lesson I decided that I would no longer let them republish articles in full. In part, I am partially fine with them posting shorter snippets because I hope it will drive some new traffic. On Friday one of my articles about installing Cassandra on a Media Temple server was republished on their site. However the article isn’t listed anywhere in their main article index.
Instead, it’s buried in the site but placed in a place that Google can find it. The result is that their article now shows up just under mine in Google for any relevant search and it only took them 5 seconds to republish it. As mentioned earlier though, often times their article will rise to the top spot in Google over time.
Why Their Articles Show Up Above Ours
In addition to having a number of incoming links, which makes their site a Page Rank 7 (one above AllFacebook and Social Times which both have a Page Rank of 6), the company also uses an interesting URL structure. Rather than posting the month and date at the beginning of their URL like most people do (including us) (e.g.
https://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/2009/02/sample-article), Business Insider places the month and day at the end (e.g.