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SEO – “But X merchant does it!”

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Tuesday October 12, 2010 )

Occasionally you might see a competitor employing some shady search engine optimization tactics to get a higher ranking. It’s tempting to fight fire with fire.

While search engines like Google are so much better at sniffing out this type of thing, it can be especially frustrating to see a competitor ranking highly for a long time doing something that, for instance, Google frowns upon.

This can just be the result of the competitor just somehow slipping through the net of filters for a particular tactic, or may be due to that site having enough strengths in other areas to minimize the effects of any dampening for the particular transgression.

Following suit can be disastrous. The best way I can explain it is likening it to a car and gas.

– You fill up your car with gas
– The car runs fine
– You use half a tank of gas in travel (penalty)
– The car still performs the same
– You then decide to take trip out into the desert, car runs out of fuel, you die.

The car still seemed to be running perfectly, as it should, until basically the last drop. If unlike your competitor, you’re starting out with half a tank of gas, then any black hat SEO stuff you do might see you slammed before you know it.

Just bear in mind that a high ranking competitor may have ranked even more strongly had they not used whatever tactic frowned upon by Google – and people that take these shortcuts usually end up pushing it too far one day. If you are squeaky clean, then when that happens, you will reap the rewards.

By the way, don’t be adverse to dobbing a competitor using dodgy SEO tactics into Google. You won’t get a response from Google and there may not be any action straight away. Depending on the situation, Google has a tendency to try and tweak filters to weed out whatever spam tactic is rising up in the SERPs rather than applying a penalty manually, so it may take a while.

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