What is going on with Donedeal.ie, the largest classifieds ads site in Ireland? I've just noticed something in the SERPs that definitely raises some questions.
Donedeal.ie have made the following response:
DoneDeal has not registered a domain called www.gmail.comwww.donedeal.ie, so there was no attempt on our part to violate Google T&Cs. Our DNS records include a wildcard DNS entry, for our subdomains like cars.donedeal.ie. This is common practice, you can read more about that here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wildcard_DNS_record. I did a search for "site:www.google.comwww.donedeal.ie" and got 0 results back.
My response in turn is:
I am happy to accept your bone fides on this. I would suggest however that you may wish to make some changes to your subdomain naming arrangements to prevent such abuse moving forward and, as the holder of the donedeal.ie domain, I would also suggest that you may wish to request Google to remove these spurious URL's from their index for your own benefit and the benefit of others on the Web.
Screenshot confirming 'site' search results I mentioned - click here.
With the launch of Google Plus, and probably to support it as much as anything else, Google has recently begun to include its own web properties in its search results. There has been some debate as to the ethics of this move and its effect on businesses offering products and services in the same sectors. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this move, I figured it was just a matter of time before somebody attempted to use this change to their own advantage in the SERPs. What I didn't expect was to see the largest classified ads website in Ireland involved.
Today, while carrying out routine SEO monitoring on the rankings of my pet project Lost and Found Pets Ireland, I executed the search lost akita ireland. The third link in the results caught my attiention. It had the standard Donedeal.ie page title 'Akita: Lost and Found Items For Sale in Ireland - DoneDeal.ie' but what caught my attention was the URL and particularly the carefully constructed subdomain www.gmail.comwww.donedeal.ie. For those not familiar with web address / URL structure, the domain at this URL is donedeal.ie while the subdomain is 'www.gmail.comwww'. This URL resolves to the corresponding page on donedeal.ie.
It is difficult to think that this choice of subdomain is not an effort to try to leverage Google's recent move described above to improve the position of Donedeal pages in the SERPs. In addtion, the holder of the domain (donedeal.ie) would have ultimate control over the naming of its subdomains. I would expect that an online based business such as Donedeal is contantly monitoring the SERP's to optimise the postion of its pages and therefore it is somewhat odd that they didn't notice these URL's popping up. There can be little doubt that this situation has existed for at least a little time as Google indicates that this is not an isolated case with approximately 892 links to this subdomain / domin combination currently tn their index - see site:www.google.comwww.donedeal.ie. However, having said all that, as the abuse is so blatant and potentially dangerous to the site's relationship with Google, it would seem a pretty crazy tactic for Donedeal to have engaged in themselves and perhaps is an indication of their site security being compromised or over-zealous third party SEO efforts made on Donedeal's behalf.
Whatever the origin of these URL's and the intent behind them, there can be little doubt that their presence in the SERPs has serious negative implications for other businesses and organisations competing for rankings where even a decrease in the SERP's by one position can mean the difference between a site that counts traffic in the thousands and the hundreds.
I have brought these URL's to Donedeal.ie's attention and await a response with interest.