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When Competitors Cheat – How You Can Tell and What You Can Do About It

August 7, 2009 3 Comments

black-hat-seo-0aNot every company or website operates with a sense of integrity and ethics. When it comes to your competition, sometimes they take the easy way out and cheat when it comes to SEO tactics.

How Your Competition Cheats

black-hat-seo-1Unfortunately, black hat SEO practices are out there. Black hat SEO uses spam techniques to increase PageRank (PR) quickly. It’s the equivalent to a “get-rich-quick” scheme.  In the case of black hat SEO, it’s the “let’s get our site crawled and indexed FAST” scheme.

Your competition might be one of those unscrupulous companies who think black hat is the quickest and easiest way to bump their SERPs.  It’s not a wise decision for your competition to take this risk, yet they still do it. If caught, they face permanent elimination from search engines.

Be on the look out for these unethical “spam” SEO practices:

•    Cloaking – Cloaking is how content is presented to search engine spiders. Doorway pages are a form of cloaking practices. These “fake” pages are invisible to visitors and used to trick spiders (an attempt to quickly crawl and index sites)

•    Cookie Stuffing – When users visit a website they receive a “cookie.” A cookie is a string of text stored on a computer as a result of web browsers (from a third-party site). This technique is commonly used in affiliate marketing/sales and remains on a person’s computer for 60 days. If consumer visits the site during those 60 days and makes a purchase, affiliates make a fraudulent commission off the sale.

•    Hidden Text – Hidden (or invisible text) is another way your competition will attempt to fake out search engines. Keywords are the same color as the background page’s color. Images are also created with the same text color and then placed over text. Spiders crawl keywords but users never see the keywords – only the images.

•    Splogs and scraper sites – Splogs and scraper sites steal copyrighted content from other blogs and websites. Splogs (which are spammy-looking blogs) are created in order to promote affiliates and links. This black hat practice is used to increase paid ad impressions.

•    Keyword Stuffing – Keyword stuffing is one of the most common spam tricks. Many keywords are packed into content in an attempt to be indexed quickly and ranked high. This is the quickest way for sites to be permanently banned on search engines.

How to Report Cheating Competitors
black-hat-seo-2When it comes to search engines, they adhere to strict webmaster guidelines and ethical SEO practices. If you find your competition violating search engine rules and copyright/trademark policies, you can report them to the appropriate search engine.

Google
Copyright infringement is a huge violation so if any site/company steals your content, trademarks, etc. report them to Google. Google follows specific rules and regulations concerning AdSense and AdWords. Google adheres to the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).

•    AdSense for domains trademark complaint form

•    Google Spam Report (send complaints against sites who violate SEO/spam practices)

Yahoo
Yahoo has an entire section dedicated to abuse and violations. Yahoo breaks down abuse into different categories: mail, personal, groups, business email, shopping and Geocities.  If you find any site in violating Yahoo’s copyright protection, you can email Yahoo directly.

Bing
Bing is a search engine that is run by MSN. Concerns should be addressed to the following MSN support/contacts.

•    Trademark violations

•    Webmaster Center Email Support (report violations against your site including web spam, malware, etc.)

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Zeke Camusio

About the Author

Zeke Camusio is a serial entrepreneur, marketing speaker, author of The Internet Marketing Bible and CEO of Digital Aptitude, a data-driven digital marketing agency in Portland, Oregon.

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3 thoughts on “When Competitors Cheat – How You Can Tell and What You Can Do About It

  1. There is one thing for sure about black hat… It will eventually come around to haunt you. In the real estate business I’ve seen a lot of sites rise quickly through the serps only to disappear forever after they are found out for their unscrupulous techniques. Attracting an audience through hard work on good content will always be a safe bet.

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