MerchantCircle Traffic Growth

Last week comScore put out its global Internet data: more than a billion users globally, China now number 1, etc. An interesting bit there, which many have already remarked about, is the fact that Facebook now has considerably more traffic globally than MySpace. The latter still leads domestically but it would appear that Facebook is pulling away on a global scale.

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Last week was the December US Top 50 data — 12 of which are explicitly local (not counting search engines):

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But what struck me was the appearance of MerchantCircle on the list of “top gaining” sites:

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MerchantCircle isn’t a consumer destination so what’s going on here? It’s got to be mostly SEO traffic from search engines in local search results. That’s my guess — other theories?

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5 Responses to “MerchantCircle Traffic Growth”

  1. B. Chandra says at

    There are two things going on. One, MerchantCircle’s campaign of unsolicited robo-calls to small businesses (talked about originally here: http://blumenthals.com/blog/2007/12/06/merchantcirclefud-marketing-and-these-guys-get-10-mil/). that use fear and deception to get businesses to MC’s site. According to small business comments over at Small Business SEM (http://www.smallbusinesssem.com/strange-goings-on-with-merchant-circle/236/) MC’s robocalling technique is continuing. That tactic, while unethical, does apparently work to scare the business owner enough to come to MC’s site so see what mysterious posts were made about them. Second, and more recently, once there, SMB’s are enticed by MC to create doorway/duplicate pages which keyword stuff on the page and in the URL- all violations of Google’s Webmaster TOS. Here are a few examples:


    Same business using multiple locations to create almost identical content, except keyword stuffing the page and URL:

    http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/mj.flooring.enterprises.dallas.ga.carpet.repairs.tile.grout.cleaning.installation.restretching.carpet.dallas.spot.dyeing.770-915-7474

    http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/mjflooring.enterprises.rome.ga.carpet.cleaning.rome.tile.grout.repair.installation.restretching.carpet.678-779-5854

    http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/m.j.flooring.enterprises.acworth.ga.carpet.installation.carpet.repairs.carpet.restretching.tile.grout.cleaning.patches.seam.repair.holes..678-778-7916


    An example of keyword stuffing on the page
    —-
    http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/Affordable.Garage.Door.Services.678-294-4367

    “Hours: 24 Hour Service by Appointment and Emergencies- Keywords and phrases that relate to the products and services of A-Affordable Garage Doors include but are not limited to: insulated garage doors | garage doors insulation| fix garage doors | new door openers | carriage repairs installations service tune up replace replacement custom remodeling vinyl steel wood panel raised panels windows arched concrete stain seal liftmaster genie linear mirantec allstar craftsman wayne dalton chamberlain clopay amarr windsor raynor mid american spring on all brands framed openings electric operators residential remote controls lift master commercial adjustments house | garage door company | garage door repairs | garage door service | affordable garage doors | garage doors openers | garage opener repair | garage opener service | garage doors openers repair | garage door replacements | garage door springs | garage door adjustments | garage door sensors | garage door keyless entry | garage door remote control | garage door quotes | garage door parts | garage door maintenance | garage door panels”.

    So yes, MC is creating “unique” content for Google to crawl, but as one can see, they are once again pushing the boundaries of legality and ethics. Were Google to get wise about this web spam (ie: reported through Google Webmaster Tools), it would take a toll on their rankings. That could happen.

  2. Marcus Keith says at

    We are not MC but we use MC as a cornerstone to our LSM service.

    The three examples of the Carpet Guys is exactly the type of problem that MC itself is marshaling aggressive enforcement – a clear TOS violation of which MC is constantly pulling up – usually against independent lead marketers.

    —————

    We wish to respond to one of the above allegations of “keyword stuffing” as the Garage Door Guy example is our client. We do not claim to be SEO experts but MC does make certain “optimization” easy as relates to an MC site.

    So, we were of the opinion that “keyword stuffing” involves invisible text, which the instant example does not reveal.

    Perhaps we could get some constructive feedback as to how we can properly optimize an MC page without going too far.

    To be perfectly clear – the Garage Door Guy is NOT an example of anything that MC is doing, that is our work.

    ADMAX MERCHANT MEDIA

  3. KenC says at

    MerchantCircle has starting running radio ads here in the Raleigh, NC market targeting advertisers, suggesting that if you’re “unhappy with the results of your print Yellow Pages ads, call us…” so they can move them into local search/online.

    Welcome to the newest print YP “Cutters”

  4. Sean Galusha says at

    I think it is a combination of an increase in those unsolicited phone calls and local search listings, like you said Greg. Based on the other comments and what I have seen of them in the past, they still have some serious issues they need to iron out.

  5. Lynnea Bylund | ADMAX says at

    Responding to Sean – the robo-calls, I believe, were discontinued in 2007. Clearly, a careful review of the vast majority of business owner complaints (98%+?) demonstrates that they are born of business owner confusion and ignorance.

    And in the meantime MerchantCircle’s continued surge of traffic growth and and feature innovations… and business owner glowing reviews – demonstrates that it IS the cutting edge of free local search and small business social networking – a space that all other developer/operators perceived as mere IYP.

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