Having a good ranking in the search engines is essential if you want your website to get noticed, and to develop into an important part of your business. While you can get traffic from social media marketing, paid search and display advertising, the ‘long tail’ of organic search results is one of the best sources of sustainable traffic.
The major search engines today are not human-maintained directories, rather they are databases that are sorted and ranked via complex algorithms. Unfortunately, there are some ‘Black Hat’ marketers that try to manipulate those algorithms in order to rank better in the search results. Google is constantly releasing algorithm updates to combat these tactics but those unethical marketers are working hard to keep up to speed with those changes.
When Black Hat Backfires
A lot of the ‘black hat’ techniques that those unethical marketers rely on work for a short time, but they eventually backfire when the search engines change their systems and penalise those tactics. Practises such as filling your website with keywords, getting links from unrelated sites, and setting up networks of sites that contain very little content (but, conveniently, link back to your main site), were all once popular and are now frowned upon by Google.
For a while, unethical webmasters would try to get the websites of their competitors penalised by linking to them aggressively from ‘bad’ sites – such as ones that contain adult content, gambling, or other content from niches that Google traditionally sees as spammy. The idea was to make Google think that the site was low quality.
Are you a Victim of Google Bombing?
This technique is known as the ‘Google bomb’. It is relatively easy to spam links to a competitor’s website. Sometimes it was used to harm their reputation by having them associated with negative terms. In most cases, Google will not penalise the websites that are the victim of this tactic, because it is easy to spot, but sometimes penalties do happen. If you are concerned that you are the victim of this sort of technique, then you may want to have a webste audit Bedfordshire companies such as wsimk.co.uk can help with this.
Audits will highlight a lot of issues with your website – including unnatural looking link profiles, links from ‘bad neighbourhoods’ and even issues on your site itself. It is not uncommon for malicious individuals to find security holes in popular content management systems and use those to install malware on the websites, then use that malware to either infect the computers of their visitors, or to add links to their own websites to your site. These infections can go unnoticed for a long time, but can seriously harm your rankings.
If you are an ethical webmaster with a good web team, you have little to fear when it comes to Google penalties, but it is still worth protecting yourself with some pro-active SEO work and the occasional audit.