Google To Take Out Sniper Sites

Matt Cutts the head of Google’s spam fighting team recently said on Twitter that they were planning a small change to the Google algo to remove many of the sites that are sitting high in Google’s pages that have keyword matching domains and low quality content.

The problem is that when Google changes their algorithms it isn’t just the people they target who suffers. Sites with lots of content which readers love can still be penalized and sent flying far out of the SERPS.

Google Sniper was an affiliate marketing method where sites were built around a product and matching long tail keywords that had little competition. Part of this method was to have the domain name the same as the keyword. This would help the site to rank on the first page of Google and the site owner to start earning money from free traffic visiting the site looking for that product.

For example, Amazon sells virtually everything, if you chose a specific product like this drinks chiller…

Which has a high purchase price, you get paid a percentage of any sales you make so if you sell higher priced items you make more money. To get sales for free, people would create a mini website that has an Exact Matched Domain (EMD) like or and fill the mini site with a few pages and videos with information about the chiller with a slight leaning to why you should buy the item.

The site would include affiliate links to the product on Amazon or wherever the chosen product is being sold from. When someone came to the site and then clicked through the link and bought the item the site owner would get a percentage of the sale.

As Google is based around people searching it is safe to assume that people who find the site were looking for information and details about this specific product. It stands to reason, try it, go to Google and type in ‘Batman’ I know you will not get any websites in the search results that are all about the ‘Husky Budweiser Drinks Chiller’

These sites follow different rules, they are created only if there are enough people searching for the chosen item. Or If there is very little competition that will allow the site to rank high quickly with little effort and only if the first page of Google is not filled with big sites like Amazon or Wikipedia.

They also have a main keyword and several relevant matching keywords strategically placed throughout the site, some are bold, some are underlined and they are a common theme throughout the site. As you can see on this example that had affiliate links sending the reader to a product that helped people cure their panic attacks.

The problem with these sites is that they are thin, they are based around only one item and they serve no other purpose but hang around on the first page of Google sucking affiliate commissions. Google does not like this, they want their search results to give the best sites to Google users. So they are clamping down on these sniper sites and trying to get rid of them.

The main objection is this, what if people who are searching for information on products like this “drinks chiller” find all that they need on these “thin” sites? Hasn’t that site fulfilled what Google wants? Hasn’t the Google user got the information that they wanted to help them make that decision? What if that user is happy?

Is Google justified in dictating that these sites are no good if other people find them useful?

Google is happy to give you their results and affiliate links to products that they will be paid for but as for you, they don’t want you to make money from their search results, a bit double standard? A bit Evil Empire minded? Maybe, but that I am afraid is where the future is heading.

What are your thoughts?

Author Bio: Andi (the Minion) Leeman writes about small home business ideas, blogging advice and social media tips over at Tim’s Minions.


21 thoughts on “Google To Take Out Sniper Sites

  1. So, what is the solution? Is Google penalizing just the “thin” sites using EMD’s or all sites using EMD’s? I guess I’m asking is whether using EMD’s can be effective if the site is somewhat of an authority site (lots more content and/or various related content to the keyword)?

  2. The problem is that Google will not care if it is quality or not. They most likely will just penalize most sites because everything they do is automated through their algorithm. Trying to prove to them your site is quality is going to be extremely difficult. My blog is still penalized since March for some spammy links and they keep denying my requests even though I have removed over 50% of my backlinks.

  3. Hi Dave They aim to clear out the thin sites but there are reports of blogs that have EMDs which have grown with content and readerships that have seriously suffered recently. Maybe it is pendulum shift while the algo and changes settle.

  4. Great post. I think there’s only one thing wrong: the phrase “Google does not like this, they want their search results to give the best sites to Google users” needs to be changed to “they want their search results to give, er, their own sites to Google users”.

  5. As Pawel says in one of his comments, which business wouldn’t want to put its own products and pages in front of their own audience? it makes perfect business sense really, Google is a business, it is just a shame they say that want to help the everyday website owner then keep changing the rules and moving the goal posts just when you think you are getting somewhere. 🙂

  6. Well, I still use them everyday for my searches but I do use Bing more often than I used to before since big G made all the updates this year. I don’t hate them as much as you might think. They are just like any other business trying to squeeze as much money as possible. I think most of us would do the same. It sucks when your site tanks but if you learn how to adapt then whatever they throw at you won’t affect you much.

  7. I agree with Pawel, Google are a business, they will do what any other business would do. Wouldn’t you put your products or services before your clients as much as possible to maximise your earnings? It seems wrong because when they started Google search and results was their product, the websites they ranked were not their own, now it seems though that they do bite the hands of those who fed it.

  8. It’s pretty clear that most G updates have nothing to do with improving quality….even though their PR team spins it that way. These updates are really all about making more money for Google.

  9. I hear there is more updates coming soon even bigger than the last ones. I agree that many search terms now bring up low quality results (mostly big brands) but if you look at it from Google’s perspective they are just trying to keep on making more money and get rid off all the loopholes people were exploiting for a long time. They want to put their own properties in front of THEIR OWN traffic which is a smart business move.

  10. Thank you for your comments and I agree, becoming a brand and no longer relying on Google is the way to go. Building a brand isn’t easy but then neither is working with Google :-D. Google loves brands.

  11. Ha love it 🙂 Great idea Walt! The Peoples Republic of Google. Everyone buys it out and tinkers with the inner workings, love the idea but can we make it happen? I put you in charge of the mission Chairman Hanson 🙂

  12. Although Google reduces the power of EMD, EMD still works if you provide hundreds or even thousands of high quality backlinks from high authority sites and regulary provide contents that original, copyscape and readable. I am sure that Google loves it. This way is also working for domains non EMD.

  13. Hi Iman, yes, a site with an EMD that is being worked on regularly with fresh unique content will be looked on more favourably. It is more the thin 5 page sites that are built then left to suck commissions for years that Google are trying to target.

  14. sniper sites are a joke, there is no value added so any value generated is dishonest and doomed to failure. The only reason anybody is building these sites is because they want something for nothing. Sure, there’s a sucker born every minute, but the people who take advantage of suckers are the real problem. Nobody needs your fake website to help direct them to their consumer needs. If people want stuff, they find it. These crappy websites are not something to be defended as a service to google users, give me a break.

  15. Well, most of them are thin…I agree, but does it mean we have to throw them all under the bus simply because a bigger percentage of them offers no value? Some of them do offer good information.

  16. Google has ruined the web, under the guise they want to present the best websites for their searchers. In reality they are squashing creativity in what is suppose to be a free global system designed to equalize the playing field for big corporations, small mom and pop shops and individuals with no favoritism or discrimination. The whole rest of the web prides itself on having no rules and regulations yet Google sets strict rules for ranking. The Google algorithm is phonier than a bad TV episode of the hit show ‘Numbers’. Wiki sites trust the web community to monitor their content, with the idea of having the best content eventually. It works! Yelp, Angie’s list both let the masses rate all the websites out there. Even Facebook and many other big web personalities don’t have math algorithms for their search boxes. There is plenty of ways to tell which sites are the best. Their algorithm has not worked yet and that’s no secret. The result of allowing Google so much power to dictate how the game is played is resulting with the best designed websites; most original, artistic, functional and informative sites etc, being forced to ruin their artistry, compromise the way they function and bend their originality to conform to a shady math formula in order to rank on page one! Thus Google is making everyone do all the very things they keep saying they are against. No one wants content on a site they sign their name to that is filled with keyword density! They only do it to please Google. The best writers in the history of the world have to ruin their work by repeating the same phrase over and over and over! Everyone knows the text sounds ridiculous that way. No one would bother automating backlinks, buying links to any and every site who will allow a do follow link if Google wasn’t rewarding that behavior. Seriously who would ever think of junking up their own website with irrelevant videos. But video is the name of the Google game right now. My warning to Google is you can’t suppress real talent. In a medium as vast and intricate as the internet, real artists, the very best thinkers and unique innovators emerge all the time. Eventually these geniuses will become fed up with being told they have to stifle their creativity and conform to please a monopoly, conglomerate type bully trying to rule the school yard! Wow! I wish I could set the rules then a few months later complain that everyone else is cheating so I’m going to re-write the whole rule book, only to repeat the process again a few months later then again and again while taking no responsibility for the mess I’ve made out of it all. has a cool poem called Drivel Fine Drivel, about the web corrupting the arts. Check it out if you like sarcasm and dry humor.

  17. The recent algo change aims at those sites which are very shallow and thin. I recent video I watched which shed light on how important it is to have an authority website which runs into many pages and has got very good content. But the question still remains – how will the google robots understand which content is good for the viewers. May be the user just wants to verify certain things before he buys. If it satisfies his wants then that’s it.

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