Monday, July 02, 2007

Search engine saboteurs

Search engine saboteur at work.

Jim Horton alerts us to this article in Forbes:

The Saboteurs Of Search

Those rules, at least for major search engines like Google and Yahoo!, are based largely on the number of links from other pages to a given site: The more links, the higher that site ranks in Google and Yahoo! results. But this system of link-based ranking invites cheating. Search engine optimizers can use software that generates thousands of links to their site, pushing its ranking artificially high. In response, Google and Yahoo!'s search algorithms now automatically punish sites that game their algorithms by pushing the offending pages deep into the unseen layers of search results. (See "Condemned to Google Hell.")

That filtering strategy keeps search results relevant to users despite the meddling of Web spammers. But Scott and other search marketers say it also makes possible a powerful form of negative SEO. Search marketers claim they can frame certain competitors as cheaters by posting thousands of links around the Web, making a competing site look like it's engaging in "link spamming," a tactic that draws the disfavor of major search engines. In SEO circles, this technique of setting up a competitor to be punished for link spamming is sometimes called "Google bowling."

"If a new site gains half a million links over the course of a weekend, it looks suspect from Google's point of view," Scott says. "So you make someone look naughty, and then get them caught."

And what if Scott gets caught? Think that sort of tactic cannot be traced back to you? Think again.

I am not very keen on search engine sabotage, but if you feel called upon to play that sort of game, it is easy enough to use social tagging sites to raise the rankings of negative material.

Rather than pay for Scott’s sabotage service, it would be far more cost effective to buy a group of sponsored links on the relevant user groups, increase your search engine ranking along with building actual good will.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Thanks for the pointer. Great (and timely) article. Using competitor's names for paid and organic SEO efforts has been discussed at work of late (with our SEO guru soundly against it).

As with anything that is illegal, unethical or just wrong in any way, if you can't afford to get caught and punished, you can't take the risk.

In an online world where search engine rankings are so valuable, getting penalized is not worth it.