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SEO: The Search Engine Killer

SEO

Google has set the gold standard for online search platforms. Using complex algorithms, it actually does a remarkable job of filtering hits and routinely delivers the exact link we want within the first few search results. Google also doesn’t let you directly pay to have your site higher in the search rankings, meaning that in theory, the results should reflect what users actually want to see and not what advertisers want you to see.

Enter SEO. While Google’s algorithm is private, some of Google’s ranking secrets have been discovered by the public, and have been exploited mercilessly by the abounding SEO companies. So you really can pay (albeit indirectly) to have your site appear higher in the search rankings. And with our ever-growing reliance on search engines, companies know that higher rankings = higher profits. But, SEO is laden with shady practices and dirty trickery.

One common ploy of boosting your site rankings is to obtain “backlinks”. A backlink is a link from another site to your site. For example, if you had an article written about you in a newspaper that was online, and it contained your website url, this would boost your search rankings – especially if it was a popular newspaper. This intuitively makes sense, because your site’s popularity should rise if more people are “talking” about it online.

Taking advantage of this system just requires a greedy mindset. Devious SEO bandits will register multiple domain names, and set up fake blogs on these sites. To these blogs, they will post articles with unique content (unique content boosts your ranking) containing backlinks to their target site. Rinse, wash, and repeat a few hundred times, and it will do wonders to your search ranking. But, it is also internet pollution, and makes wading through all of the phony content difficult and confusing. In fact, with enough “SEO”, you can rig the popularity contest in your favor and perhaps convince users out there that your site is indeed more popular.

When you go to research a product, and you begin reading reviews, take a hard look at the content of the review website and see if it seems legitimate. If the site is not link bait, then often times the comments below the posts will be. SEO gives financial motivation to these automated spam programs, because every extra link means higher rankings, which translates into more money. People have set up automated spambots to litter their website url across unprotected blogs, in an effort to drive up their search ranking through backlinks. And, this is just one of their unscrupulous methods.

Don’t get me wrong though, I believe that a basic knowledge and usage of SEO is a good thing. Clearly, if you are running a business selling shoes, and the keyword shoes is not visible to Google from your pages, how could you reasonably expect it to show up in a search? Fortunately for us, Google is aware of these dishonest so-called gray hat or black hat practices and is tweaking their search engine constantly. It will be an epic battle, and I’m rooting for the good guys.

Posted on 14th of October 2009

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