You Can't Squeeze Google Juice from a Stone

Over the years, marketers have used scores of techniques to inflate their relevance to predetermined search terms in search engine databases. According to C|Net, last week a B2B marketer got caught, causing it to be delisted from Google and Yahoo! databases altogether.

So many web users use search engines as a gateway that search engine optimization has become a key component of many online marketing campaigns. Marketers should know, however, that there's good SEO and there's bad SEO. Good SEO follows the rules and minimizes the risk of being delisted while increasing relevance to search terms germane to a marketer's business. Bad SEO uses seedy tricks to elevate listings.

For instance, WhenU last week got busted for using a technique known as "cloaking," which delivers different content to search engine spiders than it does to end user browsers. Spiders indexed links that were invisible to regular browsers that requested those pages. One can easily see how this opens the door to abuse and can give an unfair advantage to companies willing to employ this tactic.



A similar tactic is known as "spamdexing" and it involves the creation and maintenance of spam pages that simultaneously increase the number of inbound links to a marketer's website, create artificial content that increases a marketer's relevance to key search terms and automatically redirect users to pages they don't intend to visit.

A third tactic, known as "page spamming" usually employs spamming engines that place links in guestbooks and comments fields in blogs to increase the number of inbound links to a marketer's website. It has become such a widespread column that software developers are writing their own code solutions to allow webmasters and bloggers to de-spam their own pages on the fly.

Every time a marketer engages such techniques, he runs the risk that he will be discovered by Google, Overture and other search engines and removed from their databases. Why take the risk?

It's best to not fool with spamdex pages, cloaking or page spamming at all. Instead, determine the search terms to which your content is relevant, optimize your existing HTML code and occasionally (every month or two) revisit the page code and tweak it as necessary. Do use key search terms in your meta tags, page titles, image alt tags and other HTML code, but avoid cheating by trying to set up redirect pages to do this artificially.

Search engine optimization makes perfect sense, but cutting corners does not. If you or your SEO firm do cut corners, prepare yourself for the day when your techniques are discovered and you lose organic search links altogether. If you happen to run an online retail site or other such site that is heavily dependent on organic search, such effects could be devastating. If the lack of a relevant link to your site becomes a problem, there's always paid search listings.

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