Play by the Rules of Google or Get Screwed.
Category: SEO/ SEM
Companies cheat in their efforts to get lots of traffic to their website by fooling people, which in turn, fools Google's algorithms. By showing a ton of traffic to a site, Google thinks that makes it a valuable site, so ranks it higher for certain search terms, assuming people value that website.
A recent story is about the website Rap Genius
Rap Genius is a website about interpreting song lyrics, poetry, and other forms of text. Here's what they did to get a ton of people to their website:
find a song lyric phrase that lots of people type into Google.
In this instance, the keywords they used were from a specific, popular Justin Bieber song
then, they asked the Rap Genius audience to use those Justin Bieber lyrics in their posts and comments on other websites, and create back links to Rap Genius' site,
then, when those "Beliebers" Google'd lyrics to that specific song, those Rap Genius' planted posts came up, showing those lyrics, with back links to Rap Genius' website,
and finally, when unwitting "Beliebers" clicked the link, thinking they'd get to the words for that song, it took them to Rap Genius' site.
This process, created hundreds of thousands of links to Rap Genius' website. Initially, to Google's algorithms, it made Rap Genius seem like a valuable website.
However, there are also people behind Google's algorithms, and when they saw traffic from a website go from hundreds a day to thousands, it raised a red flag. So when Google looked into the situation, they took the Rap Genius website off all Google's search results... even a search for "Rap Genius." So they were screwed!
To get back in Google's search results, Rap Genius had to go to ask each and every website that had those misleading links and ask every website owner to remove those links. How many websites had those misleading links on them? More than 175,000! And you can image how long something like that took. that took. And how much it must have cost in time.
This also happened to JCPenny in 2011, so if you think Google doesn't take on the big corporations, you'd be wrong! JCP was banished from Google's search results for 6 months, so you can image what affect that had on their business.
They showed up in the #1 spot for generic terms like "little black dresses," “skinny jeans,” “furniture,” and dozens of other keywords and phrases.And when a website goes from not being #1, to being #1 relatively quickly, it raises eyebrows at Google, and they step in.
What JCP did, was, again, create thousands of back links to their websites but in a different way: they had a company create thousands of 1-page websites that had links back to JCP's respective landing pages for "little black dresses," “skinny jeans,” and “furniture.” So having thousands of links going to a landing page, gave those respective ages lots of link juice.
Of course, JCP claimed ignorance to this scam, blaming it on a search engine company they'd hired.
Not all back links are created equally
No surprise, when companies cheat Google, Google has to come up with new releases of their search algorithms to get past that. And this is why SEO is always changing: to deal with the scammers and make the playing field more even for smaller companies. Read an article we wrote about good and bad back links here.
You can imagine how hard it is to create scripts that know the difference between popular sites (which could be porn sites) and reputable sites (which could be your site) on the fly, so you get the best results based on your individual search query.
Yes, Google is trying to help those of us who aren't trying to game the system, and every time SEO folks come up with a work around for Google's algorithms, Google has to change and adapt.
So what are the new algoritms?
Well, now Google says it's the experience visitors to your site, have on your site, that measures how valuable your website is. And there's a bunch of indicators that Google Analytics uses to measure that. Coincidentally, we just created an infographic on the topic that shows the things Google's new algorithms use to measure the value of a website to determine if it is worthy of being ranked well.