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I came across a content generator plugin today that creates a swath of pages by selecting a set of paragraphs out of a larger set of text on the subject. It gets combined with a title creator who creates combinations of keywords and locations for a local service area company.
Result: site:servicecompay.com shows north of 13000 indexed pages with locations covering the state of Ohio. A search for (keyword, small-town-location, OH) shows the top 3 organic results are landing pages from that site.

Simple question: what's the value of this and what are the downsides? I just can't imagine that this kind of content will last very long. On the other hand, if there are 10 searches per year for that keyword-location combo, what's the damage? Other than a small business being sold a bag of questionable SEO.

(I asked about this earlier today elsewhere, but claimed that those pages were totally randomized, yielding different results with every single page visit.)
 

Phil Rozek

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@E.Dieter Martin, I'd say you answered your own question, for the most part. I'd add two other downsides:

(1) What do you do if (when) those pages don't even deliver a trickle of visitors? What's the "plan B" then?

(2) If and when those pages don't convert any visitors, will you scrap the idea, go to plan B, or spend time making those spun pages good?

Google probably won't whack you (soon or ever), but in this case that would be the least of my concerns.
 

JoshuaMackens

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Are you speaking hypothetically or is there a real example of this occurring in the wild? If so, I'd like to see the example.
 
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@Phil Rozek That plugin makes it very cheap to produce landing pages for every town, suburb or zip code. My assumption is that there's only a trickle if there are just not enough people looking for that service. I don't know if there are numbers out there how many people won't click a search result because the top 3 entries come from the same site

@JoshuaMackens It's real. I'll send you a PM with the search.
 

Phil Rozek

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@E.Dieter Martin, yessir, I got that. Not sure what the "how many people won't click a search result because the top 3 entries come from the same site" part has to do with the original question. You wanted to know some possible downsides of the content-spinning approach, so I highlighted a couple.
 

CallumS

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Don't forget the screeds of thin content someone else will be cleaning up later!
 
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