• RyanMJones

    I don’t see this changing anytime soon. The brands themselves don’t put coupon or discount content online on their own sites, so literally the only content that is relevant for those queries ARE the spammy sites. If you took them all away, there wouldn’t be anything left to rank.

    Message: (and Adam Melson brought this up on our Clickz NY panel a couple weeks ago) brands, there’s an opportunity here to own your own coupon/discount terms. People are going to find coupons anyway, you might as well own it and not pay the affiliate commission.

  • Brent D. Payne

    The brands won’t likely listen/respond. Your solution is the smartest solution but a secondary option that may be more acceptable to brands is to find partners that would be willing to take a lesser commission or offer a lower value coupon in return for a partnership. The partnership could include something as powerful as a link from the brand’s website, social media, email marketing, etc. (pretty much guaranteeing a top position in Google).

  • RyanMJones

    One approach Adam mentioned in our session was to create a coupons page explaining that you offer the lowest possible prices already, so there are no coupons.

  • http://www.bradsdeals.com Rebecca Lehmann

    The idea that “the only content that is relevant for those queries ARE the spammy sites” implies that all coupon sites are spam and ignores the fact that we have close partnerships with the majority of these brands and that we operate within strict guidelines that they set. One false move and our commissions get pulled, and they are in fact quite vigilant. Please don’t lump legitimate coupon affiliates in with the likes of sites that use crappy doorway pages propped up by Fiverr spam links.

    I’m glad to see Brent get a post up on the issue. We’ve been trying to get someone to pay attention to it for quite awhile. The spammer noted in the SBwire screenshot also makes extensive use of bit.ly links and is a plague on our vertical.

    It also seems to me that if you buy into the conspiracy theory that Google gives RetailMeNot special treatment, then Google would be more motivated to clean up this stuff as you’ve got spammers outranking RMN with bit.ly and PRlog links, which impacts their revenue. So far all we’ve gotten on the topic is silence.

  • PStrohm

    Bring this up to microsoft so they could come up with another scroogle propaganda. You know microsoft they won’t let Google get away with it.

  • Kyle Risley

    I’d stop looking at the content and start looking at the links. Google is not good at determining quality content, just duplicate and near-dup content. Spinning still works if you can keep the conversion rates high enough.

    Coupon niches pop up all the time aren’t that hard to exploit. Getting into the affiliate program in the first place can be the trickiest step. :)

  • http://www.sbwebcenter.com/ Steve B

    I agree. Why would you look at coupon sites as spam? Coupons provide value and help people save money.

    Everyone wins. The advertiser gets a new customer. The publisher gets commission. And, the user saves money.

    Also, SBwire is supposed to be used for PR, not for posting coupons, so he is obviously trying to game the system.

  • Mark

    Just search for something like “Godaddy coupons” or “Hostgator coupons”, and laugh at the results. Every one of them is link farming/spamming to an obscene degree, most of them don’t even have codes that have worked in the past year. Nothing EVER gets done about this, nor will it ever.

  • Brent D. Payne

    Well, Mark, that’s what this post is about. Trying to shine a spotlight on the problem. I did something similar in the lyrics space in the middle of 2004. It took a while for Google to fix the problem (and I have no idea if I had anything to do with it) but it did get fixed.

  • Brent D. Payne

    SBWire is a total spammer. Period! It’s ridiculous. The YouTube videos that used to still be up were also ridiculous (but looks like some of the worst ones have been removed, plenty more lesser ones remain).

    I agree that the coupon sites add value. The retailers could do what the coupon sites do themselves but they make the business decision not to do so. The coupon sites, if they provide a solution for the searcher’s query, make sense to have on the internet. MOST of them are simply spammy sites. BradsDeals, FatWallet, TechBargains, etc. are all sites I used to work with a long time ago. They add value. Some of the new coupon sites like RMN, Coupons.com, Groupon, etc. all make sense too. How many of these sites do we need? Just a handful. We shall see who shakes out eventually.

  • Andrew Shotland

    Nice to see the Brent Payne byline again. It’s been a while. Ryan, along those lines, Zappos’ SEO guy has come up with something pretty great http://www.zappos.com/truth-about-zappos-coupons

  • https://plus.google.com/100938619255397146926?rel=author Brian Jensen

    It appears that after performing a quick search for query “nordstrom coupon” that RetailMeNot has decided to join the party – that, or someone is playing a bad joke on them. http://screencast.com/t/sfHytgZS3

  • http://www.elite-strategies.com/blog Patrick Coombe

    Good point and good solution. Or what might happen would be similar to what happened to the “mugshot” type websites where Google just murdered the whole niche overnight.

  • http://www.elite-strategies.com/blog Patrick Coombe

    Do you have a Search Engine Land coupon code?

  • http://www.silvar.net/ Miguel Silva Rodrigues

    Now that’s how you do an industry-wide spam report.

  • Helen Fang

    Excellent article. Thank you for highlighting this issue. Can you tell me if Patch.com will remove other links? Seems like some of the ones for big name brands are still up (e.g. http://nashua.patch.com/groups/nordstroms/p/nordstrom-promo-code-2014-up-to-50-off–free-shipping-coupon_fc902154)

  • http://www.bradsdeals.com Rebecca Lehmann

    I’m wondering the same. This search query uncovers rampant spam in on Patch:

    site:patch.com coupon OR “promo code”

  • http://www.taramaytesimu.com Tara Tesimu

    Super good point Helen. This is Tara from Patch (referenced in the article! I feel like a celebrity!) The coupon spam comes faster than we can even humanly handle it.. although we’re trying! We’re working on a new platform right now that would have much better spam guards and hopefully prevent much of it from getting on the sites as at all. Until then, I’ve been working with our team to pull it down as quickly as we can and ban the usernames posting. And long-term working on better fixes!

  • Brent D. Payne

    I emailed Patch.com again and sent Tara the advanced search query you mentioned. I’ll let you know what happens.

  • justanobody

    Not condoning this whatsoever but reading this post and some of the coupon industry call-to-arms comments here crack me up.

    Most of the “established” coupons sites have skeletons in the closet too.

    Groupon is buying links using old school email outreach tactics, eg see this screenshot https://twitter.com/IMJacobKing/status/450796048747737088

    BradsDeals is using widgets to get keyword rich dofollow links, eg see this site http://tiny.cc/5sc7ex (a tactic retailmenot used and covered by viperchill recently)

    Google should clean up the coupon niche, but they should crack down on all not-so-white tactics!

  • http://www.sbwebcenter.com/ Steve B

    What do you guys expect to see if you are running a search for coupons?? You’re going to see pages that have a list of coupons, not some fluffy article about coupons or some wikipedia page.

  • Jason Dexter

    But that defeats the whole idea behind coupons.

    Offering a list of coupons on your own website then hugely devalues the brand as well as put people off. The reason they work so well is the fact people love to think they’ve found a way around the system, found some secret code that shouldn’t be out there.

    Plus the competition, depending on the industry, will be insane and you’re competing against spam. We know spam works, we all know SAPE links are still affective so it’s a section of the market many brands just don’t want to waste resources trying to compete in

  • http://www.thedigitalcookie.com The Digital Cookie

    This explains why 99% of the affiliates who try to join my affiliate network are coupon sites…

    My company offers no coupons so instead they create “free shipping” coupons to list on their sites in order to snag a few sales before I shut them down. I don’t even bother with them anymore. If you are a coupon site you get automatically declined.

  • http://www.irfansaleem.com imran

    If only everyone was such a honest and law abiding citizens, such updates like Panda could’ve been easily avoided in which lots of spam sites along with innocent sites were taken down.

  • http://www.bradsdeals.com Rebecca Lehmann

    I’d caution anyone using a backlink checker to dig up skeletons to remember that while you can see every link they ever built, you don’t know what they have and have not already disavowed.

    As the SEO for BradsDeals, I can say that we’re working hard to undo damage done by tactics that were previously considered whitehat. Remember when widgets were all the rage and everyone had them? Widgets as a tactic go back to the days of page counters, long before whitehat/blackhat was even a concept. It’s only in the last couple years that they’ve become toxic.

  • Taylor

    Let’s see… friend of SEO of BradsDeals (yes, they are friends on FB), who has an agenda against spammers who outrank her, decides to write an article to ‘out’ these spammers and get them in the spotlight… so BradsDeals can get a few ranks higher on the same KWs? I think this is considered negative SEO?

  • http://www.top10seotips.com/seo_expert.htm Steve Wiideman

    Go get ’em Brent! Matt Cutts should have his department doing this kind of work, but apparently they only play police, not investigator. Great job keeping the web a spam-free place! :)

  • Helen Fang

    Um, no. I think this is called working together to make sure spammy, black-hat crap is eliminated from SRP.