A WebmasterWorld thread spotted an interesting paragraph in an Reuters article on AOL possibly using automated tools to create an infinite number of niche sites, targeted at driving users to the site via search and having them click on the ads on the site. The article says:
AOL, for example, is embarking on a strategy of creating a plethora of niche websites through automated methods on which to place ads, partly through its own ad platform. It has called this "leaning into the fragmentation of the Web.
The debate in the thread is two fold:
(1) Is this simply bad journalism and AOL is not trying to go this route? If not: (2) What will search engines do to combat such a large site creating such spam?
It is no doubt that there are many "authority" sites that create these types of pages and get by for doing so because of their "authority" status. In fact, many SEOs have called out these type of sites before.
AOL can make a lot of money if they did go this route, but are they really going to go the automated route when they do a pretty good job at creating unique content already?
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.