Search Engine Optimization Scams that Kill Traffic

We’ve all gotten that email that wasn’t filtered into the “spam” box where it belonged. Excited for the potential inquiry, we open it, only to see something like the following:

I noticed that your website,

[domain name here], could get more hits. My company can guarantee 1,000 new visitors to your website by the end of this month, as well as as place you as number one in tons of organic search rankings! Free trial!

Your initial feeling of disappointment turns into intrigue. Ooh, you think. More visitors equals more sales. I would like to do better on the search engines so I can grow my business. And cheap to boot? How could I refuse? But before you hit reply…

Hands off the mouse. Just think about what would happen if you took them up on the offer? Or, if you don’t know what would happen, you will after reading this post.

Search engine optimization scam artists are out there, running around to contact forms right and left to send off their lofty promises of booming web traffic for your website. They talk a big talk and fool many people who don’t know any better. Then they take the money do something called “Black Hat SEO.” Black hat SEO sometimes show substantial results initially, then backfire.

1. Backlinking (or Link Farms)

Black Hat search engine optimizers will link to your website from another website (usually an irreputable one) as a way to “vote” you up on Google, Yahoo or Bing. They try to trick search engines into thinking that the links are real and your site deserves to rise higher. Genuine backlinks truly help search engine rankings, but what about fake ones?

How does it hurt?

Google is onto this trick like a duck on a June-bug. With Google’s new Penguin Update, scammer backlinking is automatically detected and the site to which the backlinks are directed will be penalized. They may even flag your site, and the offense will be forever recorded in Google’s brain and your domain name would become worthless. Here’s the irony: once you get penalized for the backlinks, the only possible way to even try to revive your site would be to get rid of them. The same companies who sold you the backlinks in the first place will now charge you to take them off of your site, giving you a double injury! Unbelievable!

2. Keyword Stuffing

Scammers may try jamming your pages, descriptions or other meta tags with hundreds of relevant keywords in order to boost your page rankings. Keywords are important, but Google does not take kindly to spam of any sort permeating your website. Content should be written with only one audience in mind: human readers. Google wants to be able to deliver results that are useful to visitors. How is an example like the following useful to a viewer who wants to know what product or service you offer?

Health insurance is healthy. Health insurance ensures that your health will be ensured. We are health insurance providers here to provide you with health insurance.

It isn’t useful at all! It is SPAM, and annoying to read at the least.

How does it hurt?

Google isn’t stupid. They can detect when you are aiming for a certain phrase and are going OVER THE TOP. Keyword stuffing will be found and punished in a short period of time, usually resulting in being dropped from searches. This, as you can imagine, results in a drop in your traffic.

3. Hidden Data

Malicious optimizers  know how to inject invisible data, called microdata, Schema or Rich Snippets into your website so search engines can give better results to searchers. Hidden data could be in the form of keywords or reviews and cannot be seen by human visitors. This strategy used to deliver lasting results, but has since been declared illegitimate.

How does it hurt?

Google has declared that hidden text or links is cause for suspicion. They will crack down on anyone who tries to inject invisible ratings or pages into a website  to manipulate page rankings by knocking you down to lower pages or even, in some cases (depending on the degree of offense), get totally taken out of Google results. Ouch!

4. Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is achieved through archiving pages or parts of pages in multiple places of a website. Black Hat SEO’ers take advantage of this by copying the same page over and over again but giving it a new name each time in order to rank for the title of that page in different places. They may also grab the same string of keywords and sprinkle them around as they go about sabotaging your website.

How does it hurt?

Ultimately, duplicate content sends confusing messages to search engines. They don’t know which one is the original or how to organize them, so they solve the problem by… lowering your search engine rankings. Yikes.

5. Comment Spam

Spam blogs are used by illegitimate search engine scams to pass links back and forth, much like a link farm. They will contain hundreds of comments packed with links to various sites in order to supposedly boost your search engine rankings. Most of these so-called blogs only contain content that has been stolen, or “scraped,” from other sites.

How does it hurt?

Links to your site found on notorious “splogs” will cause Google to penalize your website page rankings. Eliminating these harmful links would probably require slipping even more money to the fiends.

Many “tricks” that used to be useful at one point in time have since been cracked down on by Google and are only in use by scam jobs and con artists who are too lazy to actually try and help people do better online. All of this means that you should never fall for the lies of spamming scammers who are only out there to make a buck at the expense of your business.

Go with someone who only deals in White Hat search engine optimization, knows the rules and plays by them – to your advantage in both the short and long term. Cymax Media can help your website get into Google’s top ten with our legitimate search engine optimization techniques and years of experience.

Here is a link if you want to learn more about the strategies of Black Hat search engine optimizers.