What Not to Do

How to Have Google Trouble: An Example

If you’re a regular reader of this publication, you know that the approach I advocate for ranking high in search results is to work with search engines, not against them. They want to deliver a list of relevant results, and working with them means understanding how they gauge relevance and giving them a site that’s truly relevant that they will judge to be relevant. I believe there’s real danger in attempting to fool the people at Google, who keep hiring the best Stanford computer science grad students to help them identify sites that are trying to fool their search engine. The odds I want for my clients is to be working with all those bright people, not trying to fool them!
OK, that’s the general argument. You might buy that, but still wonder, just what do I mean? How does this fine idea translate into action? I subscribe to a lot of free and paid publications about Web marketing, and recently got a solicitation for some search engine optimization software that promises to rocket your site to first place on Google. So I checked it out, and in my opinion it’s the perfect example of what not to do!

Rank Builder

The software I’m talking about is a commercial product called Rank Builder. It offers a number of features, all of them intended to fool search engines into concluding that your site is important to get higher position in search engine rankings.
Here’s one example. There are lots of social networking sites of all sorts where you can create a profile of yourself and then offer comments on various topics, Web sites in particular. One of the functions that Rank Builder will do for you is automatically create hundreds of fake profiles, so it can then post entries that include links to your site. This has the effect of getting your site links from all of these different forums, to give Google the impression that your site is of great importance.
The people who run these social networking sites are not likely to appreciate these automated profiles, created just to push the search engine ranking of some site. You’ll see these profiles deleted and other actions taken. Google, too, is not likely to appreciate this approach, since it distorts their measurement of importance of a site and hurts the quality of product they deliver. Remember they, too, hear about this product, and certainly by now someone at Google has licensed the product and is working with it. So if this product becomes very popular, you could see a countermeasure from Google, and use of this product could cause your position in search results to get worse–or disappear–instead of improving.

The Bottom Line

Search engines are businesses. They want to deliver relevant searches to their customers, who are searchers, so that they will return again and again to see the ads that are paid for. To succeed with search engines, work with them, giving your site quality content, focused on a major topic.