There is a flood of .CO domains currently being registered in South Africa with agencies going after all the main niche related keywords and phrases that are still available to register. This, however, is nothing more than South African businesses and professionals being lied to and fooled into buying these domains.
There is a local South African company whose name I will not mention out of professional courtesy. This local company is registering keyword rich .CO domains, and then calling upon local professionals and small businesses, trying to sell them the ridiculous idea of purchasing these .CO domains and setting up 301 redirects to their current websites in order to increase their rankings in Google and other search engines.
Now if anyone knows anything about Google and their quality guidelines, or want to call themselves professional SEOs, Digital Marketers or Internet Marketing Experts and value their clients' organic rankings or future clients, then they will know this aforementioned practise is in direct violations of Google's quality guidelines. When you read up on doorway pages, , you will clearly see Google's opinion about pages (domains) being created merely for ranking purposes, only to direct all traffic to one place.
Doorway pages are typically large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase. In many cases, doorway pages are written to rank for a particular phrase and then funnel users to a single destination.
Whether deployed across many domains or established within one domain, doorway pages tend to frustrate users, and are in violation of our Webmaster Guidelines.
So, what happens is the victim – in this case a business owner or professional – is approached by the company via a telephone call. They are then sold the idea that having a gTLD (Global Top Level Domain) filled with primary keyphrase/s pertaining to their specific profession or business is a really good idea, seeing that it will quickly rank in Google to promote the current website.
The victim then has a choice of a one-pager on the domain that links to their website filled with some legit looking content. This will then redirect the reader to the main website, no matter where they click on the page. Hmmm, now doesn't that sound an awful lot like doorway pages?
Best of all is they sell you these .CO domains for R2000 per year with a certificate as proof. What a joke! The fact of the matter is that you yourself could get a .CO domain for as little as $17 per year.
Now, if you do not want a single page website, they will redirect the domain/s to your main website with the same abovementioned promise that this will boost your rankings. Google is very clear on the methods used to move your website from an old domain to a new domain using 301 redirects.
See, nowhere will you hear that it's a good idea to register domains that have never been indexed in Google, with no content on them, to point to your existing website in order to boost your rankings.
We have a client that fell into this trap and bought 3 .CO domains. The prime key-phrases pertaining to the client's niche market was 301 redirected to the client's current website, and well what do you know, the rankings dropped more than 30 places.
Because the redirecting technique might have still worked a few months ago, but recently Google publicly announced "10 recent Google search quality updates" where domain parking as a filter was pointed out, and how parked domains will not be indexed in Google due to them being used for AdSense and spam.
Now if you are still on the fence, let me just give you a bit of color. that we have looked at the rankings and the weights that we give to keyword domains, & some people have complained that we are giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains. So we have been thinking about at adjusting that mix a bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm, so that given 2 different domains it wouldn't necessarily help you as much to have a domain name with a bunch of keywords in it. - Matt Cutts
I have reported this to Google directly and they have confirmed that this does in fact sound like spam. The specifics have also been given to Google in order for them to take this matter even further.
Lesson to be learnt: do NOT try short cuts when it comes to SEO, but rather use the best in the industry that will make sure you get the right, long lasting results that actually produce ROI for you and your business.