Dynamically Generating Content – Not Worth The Risk

Why Some Fortune 500’s Organic Traffic Is About To Get Whacked.

Tonight, first reports are coming in from consumers that search engine results are being spammed in a very sophisticated manner, this time by a company that many are familiar with – Walmart. Reddit user /u/Chrisinottawa brings it to our attention:

Am I missing something here? Was searching for IKEA room dividers and Walmart was all like “we got those!” http://mobile.walmart.com/c/kp/ikea-room-dividers They aren’t selling IKEA products at all. Is this URL strictly to shark IKEA keywords? How is this set up? Why aren’t they worried about search engine penalization or getting sued?

Walmart advertising that they have IKEA products on Google (1/23/2015).

Being that I spent 8 years coding up my own search engine model, I feel as though I have some unique perspectives on this matter. For those of you who are techies, you will love my techie background on this. For those of you who aren’t, I’ll explain in layman’s terms what it is that these Fortune 500 companies are doing, how it is effecting search engine organic algorithms, and what most likely is about to happen (we’re doing the same to our search engine model as I write this).

What Is Dynamically Generated Content?

There is nothing really wrong about dynamic content. ASP, JSP, and PHP pages have been around for years — for those uninitiated, it’s just a coding technology that allows you to write in template-based format — you write the code IN the HTML, except it’s server side (yeah, I’m not talking about JavaScript here) so search engines can’t see what’s going on in there.

So the problem here is that engineers are using this to spam the search engines. They are forgetting about 2011 and pretending that if they just create content “on the fly” that matches up with incoming query requests (i.e. what are people searching for RIGHT NOW), search engines will somehow get “tricked” into serving these pages at the top of their search results.

Well, they’re right.

As of right now.

But…it’s S P A M.

As an owner of a search engine model myself, it perfectly answers the question: does this lower the quality of my search results? When you attempt to generate content like this company did, you are effectively putting links on search engines that go NOWHERE — they have no value to the consumer whatsoever. Search Engines know this…and THEY are the consumer.

Want to guess what happens next? Reddit user /u/androidbitcoin spells it out…

It’s Walmart turning to the Darkside.. Seriously their SEO guy should be fired. That is just pure 20-year-old 1990’s era tactics.

Search Engineers Are Not Stupid.

Look, this is why SEO gets a bad name. Executives, Entrepreneurs, Stockholders, whoever — they are always looking for the next “score”; like a crackhead, needing his next short-term fix. Except, these approach keeps getting beat, time and again.

It’s like a fish who says hi for the first time…8 times in a row.

Right now, I can GUARANTEE you that a search engineer somewhere is going into the office with a nice little algorithm to start penalizing this new type of dynamic content spam.

It’s pretty easy to filter this stuff, because it’s so obvious. I won’t go into how to code it here, but suffice to say our clients will have a model of this shortly in production.

The only thing you need to know if you are an executive: you are creating a HUGE risk by using this approach. The consumer sees it, which means we see it.

All you really are doing is creating more work for the search engineer. And my team.

Don’t do it.

About The Author


Scott Stouffer is a Co-Founder and CTO of MarketBrew.com. Market Brew is an enterprise-grade predictive analytics tool that allows marketers to effectively see search rankings, 60 days before they happen. Mr. Stouffer is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and holds a M.S. in both Computer and Electrical Engineering. He has been behind the wave of technology at Market Brew. For more information about Market Brew, visit www.MarketBrew.com.