Just how many types of vermin websites which contain nothing but ads are there out there? Well, in addition to the breed of filth known as “typo squatters” (people who register domains which are common misspellings of popular domains, and then put ads on them), and “drop squatters” (people who grab established domains the moment that the domain’s registration lapses (i.e. is “dropped”) – and set up shop on the domain – again, nothing but ads – to take advantage of the traffic that comes to the domain), we want to bring to your attention a particularly slimy breed that we call the “Doppelganger Squatter”.
Where the drop squatter takes advantage of someone else letting their domain lapse, and the typo squatter takes advantage of others’ inability to type the name of a popular website correctly (example: a common typo for the popular electronics discount store HeartlandAmerica.com is HearLandAmerica.com – note the missing ‘t’), the Doppelganger Squatter takes advantage of the fact that a popular company or organization has not registered an obvious domain for their organization, and so hey, the Doppelganger Squatter may as well register and set up the domain and operate as the double of that organization, reaping the benefits of all whom mistake the Doppelganger site for that of the actual original organization.
And it isn’t just people who make the mistake. Search engines, including Google, make the mistake, and promote the Doppelganger site up to the number 1 position when people search for the organization.
Here’s an example:
There is a very well known dining establishment in Boulder, Colorado – the Chautauqua Dining Hall.
The Chautauqua Dining Hall has been around for over 100 years. Established in 1898 on the grounds of the Colorado Chautauqua, it is a fixture of Boulder county, and a much beloved dining spot.
So let’s say that you are visiting Boulder, Colorado, and you want to have a nice dinner at the Chautauqua Dining Hall. Not knowing where it is, you Google it.
So you Google “Chautauqua restaurant Boulder Colorado”, and the very first hit you get – the first result, at the very top of the page, is:
Now, isn’t that nice of Google to give you the Dining Hall’s website right at the top, along with their name and address!
However, when you click on the link to the Dining Hall’s website which Google has so thoughtfully provided to you as the top link on the page, you find not a website about the Chautauqua Dining Hall – in fact not a website about much anything at all, but rather:
Yuck! Nothing but Google ads!
In fact, the Chautauqua Dining Hall doesn’t have its own website – it is on a sub-page of the Chautauqua’s main site – so the Doppelganger Squatter, seizing an opportunity where it saw one, registered the domain “chautauquadininghall.com”, and Google fell for it hook, line, and sinker, and happily and obliviously directs traffic to it day in and day out.
And the real site takes not just backseat – but third fiddle to the pretender site:
So, there you have a Doppelganger Squatter in action. Shame on the Doppelganger Squatter, but also shame on Google for being so easily fooled.
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