Mike Blumenthal sent me a link to this post, where he describes the following:
It appears that Merchant Circle has purchased as many as 10,700 domains. These domain purchases have been going on for a number of months and are often in the format of localbusinessnamelocale.com. MC has gone on to create a website for the business based on the unverified Merchant Circle record and appears to have done so without permission or engagement of the business . . .
Is this MC’s newest SEO strategy to gain additional footing on the first page of Google? Are they taking cybersquatting to a new level to gain Maps traffic from the new local focused Google SERPS or are they just giving away domain names to businesses that “forgot” to buy them? I am trying to understand why MC would spend $70,000 on domain purchases, many of which have include the trade name for local businesses.
I haven’t spoken to MerchantCircle about this but will ask. I’m sure this is both an SEO strategy and another way to try and gain new customers/advertisers.
While this behavior is not illegal of course it certainly exists in a fairly gray area. The question in my mind is: does MC approach the businesses whose domains it has registered and, if so, what does MC tell the local SMBs about those domains?