A three-part primer on search spam

Every Internet marketer has heard about search spam, the unethical tactics that so-called “black hat” search marketers use that violate the search engines’ terms of service. Now if you have no intention of doing anything unethical, you might believe that you don’t need to understand search spam. After all, if you don’t want to rob a house, you don’t need to know how to pick a lock, right? Well, what you don’t know most certainly can hurt you when it comes to search spam. Read on for my three-part series in Revenue Magazine for the unsavory tactics that everyone needs to know about.
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Legitimate search marketers must have at least a passing familiarity with spam techniques in order to avoid them. Many companies have been tripped up because their employees unwittingly employed spam techniques, or because they unwittingly hired search marketing consultants who do. You’ll want to know enough to protect yourself, but also you’ll want to identify competitors gaining unfair advantages so you can turn them in to the search engines.
You can bone up on what you need to know (no one ever seems to “bone down”) by reading my three-part series of columns in Revenue Magazine—now they are posted publicly online:

  • Spiders Don’t Eat Spam. Find out what spam search tactics are, what “cloaking” is, and how to spot a spammer masquerading as a legitimate search marketing consultant.
  • The Ingredients That Go Into Spam. Get the list of spam techniques that manipulate the content on your Web pages to try to mislead the search engines.
  • The Tangled Web of Link Spam. One of the most popular methods of spamming the search engines involves setting up bogus pages and even entire faked sites created just to send inbound links to a site the spammer wants to promote. Learn what you need to know to identify this technique.

The stakes are high. Companies that engage in spam tactics risk having their Web sites “banned” by the search engines, which is geek-speak for having all of their pages removed from the search indexes—it’s like the phone company suddenly giving you an unlisted number. Banned sites are never found for searches, and you probably were hoping to do better than that.
Some people make a living fooling Google, but it’s probably not going to be you. Unless you are clever enough to stay ahead of the spam police, you are better off sticking to the rules and making sure your employees and your search consultants do so as well.
You can check out the full list of “The Searchers” columns for Revenue Magazine that I write. They are posted publicly a few months after they are available to subscribers, so if you want to get them faster, you’ll need to subscribe to Revenue Magazine in printed form or online. Some of you might even qualify for a free subscription, so check it out.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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