Archive for the 'Black Hat SEO' Category
I have written before about the millions of pages of spun content that has infected the web and is indexed and ranked by Google. Just yesterday I received a well written email detailing how this company will help me advertise on quality content blogs. I asked for a sample and this is the quality!
My answer is NO! There are probably a trillion pages of spam remaining in the index.
I just got a random email from a link seller with a list of 560 websites most with page rank 3 and 4 with computer generated content that reads like a completely different language.
Seriously, what can Google do to get rid of these websites? And the kicker is that most of them have Google Adsense on them!
Lately I have had the subject of lying on my mind and not only for the fact that I have five kids ages 7, 9, 10, 11 and 13 at home and lying seems to have become one of their favorite pastimes. In the world of SEO (like many industries) there are a slew of lies floating around the web and some individuals benefit by them, some big companies (starting with the letter ‘G’) encourage them, but mostly the entire industry suffers for them.
Lying is a big part of everyone life, from the little tiny white ones; “do I look fat in these pants”? to “I have never had sexual relations with that woman”! – My kids and I love the movie The Truman Show and my 6 year old daughter wondered for weeks whether she was in the “Jessica Show” (and I encouraged it by looking at the mirror every once-in-a-while and saying a few halted lines about a product). One of my all-time favorite movies, The Matrix was about a really big lie and the recent movie, The Invention of Lying was about a world were no one even knew what a lie was because one had never been committed. I think I have a permanent fascination with ‘lying’ since reading the book, The Truth Machine because it was so amazingly interesting. I even heard there is a professor in Cambridge teaching an ethics course and every class he tells one lie and it is part of the grading system for the student to find out what lie was perpetrated each class.
Some of the popular lies running the gambit in SEO are:
-SEO companies that offer search engine submissions, some even charge as much as $99 for this useless service. All you need is one backlink out there for the search engines to follow and they will naturally index your site, no need to pay for this as a ‘service’ and in my opinion any SEO company that offers it is on the shady side.
-You need thousands and thousands of links to rank for competitive terms – completely untrue, you can rank for competitive terms with half or a quarter of competitors backlinks depending on the quality of those links. One good link can easily be better than 100 spammy links.
-Getting a high page rank will help you rank better in the search rankings. No way, no how! These days visual page rank means very little and I have seen many low page rank and even zero page rank sites place very well in the organic listings. Not only is page rank almost worthless, chasing it (by purchasing incoming links from high page rank sites) can actually get your site penalized.
-Guaranteed results scams – This one is big these days and I have had numerous potential clients ask about what guarantee I offer and I tell them the same thing each time. I guarantee I will work very hard to get you ranked as high as possible in the shortest time while balancing out risk. It is about then, they launch into a speech about an email they got promising them number one position in Google or your money back. I try my best to explain that no one can guarantee that and there is always a catch. Whether it is by them using paid placement, ranking for obscure, low competition key phrases or plain old ‘hit-and-run’ tactics (meaning the business won’t even be around when you try and collect your money back). Please have a look at my SEO scams section for more info on these types of offers. I end each of these conversations with a statement like this, “If nothing else, do you really think that a company is going to work on a website for months and then because of something beyond their control – get paid absolutely nothing for it?”
-SEO can be done by anyone, including yourself. Now I am not saying it is not possible for a website owner to learn the basics of SEO and in fact I encourage it, because if and when you eventually hire a professional you will at least have a rudimentary understanding of what needs to be done. But just like plumbing, you may be able to tighten up a washer or unclog your own drain but when it comes to doing any complicated work you better be prepared to hire a professional or devote some serious time to learning the plumbing trade. Same with SEO – you can write better content and buy a site design with a better structure but when it comes down to serious SEO you will need to hire a professional or spend 100′s of hours learning a new part-time career. And just like trying to fix your own broken water pipe problems you might end up making things worse and then paying twice as much to fix the damage you have done. If your business depends on you to provide a function, be it sales, support, planning or other expertise – your time is much better spent doing those things and paying out profits to a professional SEO that can perform those specialized services faster and at a much higher level than you could.
-Here is another myth/lie that I can vouch for personally. It seems many people think that if you go to Matt Cutts blog and write down complementary comments (read: kissing his butt) to his posts you will receive a higher page rank and up to 400% more Google traffic. This is false.
Lying is part of human nature but it is always a good idea to stay up-to-date on what lies are floating around a particular industry so you don’t fall for them.
So Google finally stepped up to the plate with a post over at GoogleWebmasterCenteral on blog comment spam but the real question is did they give us good, useful information or just open up a Pandoras box of ways to ‘kill’ your competitors in the search rankings?
FACT: Abusing comment fields of innocent sites is a bad and risky way of getting links to your site. If you choose to do so, you are tarnishing other people’s hard work and lowering the quality of the web, transforming a potentially good resource of additional information into a list of nonsense keywords.
FACT: Comment spammers are often trying to improve their site’s organic search ranking by creating dubious inbound links to their site. Google has an understanding of the link graph of the web, and has algorithmic ways of discovering those alterations and tackling them. At best, a link spammer might spend hours doing spammy linkdrops which would count for little or nothing because Google is pretty good at devaluing these types of links. Think of all the more productive things one could do with that time and energy that would provide much more value for one’s site in the long run.
Now many folks are drawing the obvious conclusion, should I just go buy a blog spam commenting package from overseas for $10 and hope the dozens of spam comments will sink my competitors rankings? Google answers back that if your competitors link profile is otherwise healthy then this type of offensive won’t make a difference but what happens if your competition is relatively new and has a really small link profile with just a few dozen links? Will I then be able to sink them for all the semi-competitive keywords they are beating me out on because of their high quality content?
I just wish Google would do away with their shroud of secrecy and start being more transparent because this sounds like they just opened the door with a sneaky, under-handed method of playing dirty.
There have been rumors of such techniques floating around for ages and there are even some black-hat SEO’s that specialize in this type of “link bombing”. The gist of the deal is that you create organically or through purchase ‘bad’ links to your competitor’s websites in hopes of causing their search engine rank position to plummet.
There are a couple of interesting posts floating around about this practice because someone from Google has chimed in on this controversial topic. It is funny how a subject matter can take on a complete different view depending on how you look at it. There are a couple of headlines out there that in my opinion are quite deceiving: “Google Defends Bad Link Theory & Repeats That Competitors Can’t Hurt You” and “Google Debunks Link Sabotage Theories” – In both cases I think the reality is the complete opposite of the titles. Here are the two quotes that made me realize this, “Most of these guidelines involve the content on the site itself, something which generally can’t be changed through links pointing to the site.” To me this means that some of the guidelines refer to incoming links and those can and will affect your site in a negative way. The next quote is even more ominous, “In theory, I can imagine that there might be some borderline situations where that would be possible, however in all the time I have spend diagnosing website issues I have not once run into a situation like that. Also, I know that if a situation like that were to come to our attention, it would be resolved very quickly.” This last one tells me that it is possible and because of stiff competition I believe it is even likely. Sure, if it comes to their attention that it is being done it can be resolved but it might never come to their attention, right?
Bottom line is that it is very unfair that something beyond your control should affect your website’s ranking. Especially when it is so easy for a competitor to use these techniques to harm your site. I am also guessing that the occurrence of this type of black-hat technique is much more prevalent than anyone knows. After all, a few positions in Google ranking for popular keywords can means 10′s of thousands of dollars to some businesses.