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Can You Cheat the Search Engines to Get More Website Traffic?

Jul 24, 2008
The idea of cheating search engines for more web traffic is as old as the search engines themselves.

No surprise there, but it's worth looking at how and why people do it, to see if it's worth the effort...

When search engines go about ranking how they display their search results, they have always needed a system to work out what any website is about.

So, they designed robot 'spiders' which trawl the internet, using their own programming to evaluate sites.

It's this which people try to take advantage of to get higher rankings.

And why shouldn't they?

Why shouldn't you?

After all, there is no internet police deciding how you design your site, so surely any sensible business person should work at their site to make it seem as relevant as possible to the search engines, and therefore get more free traffic, right?

Well, sort of.

In the early days, search engines would maybe look mostly at the text on the page, so this led to the phenomenon of people putting their selected keywords all over their sites, but in the same colour as the background, so they would appear to the spider robots but not real visitors.

The search engines caught on to that, and not only did it stop working, any site would be punished or delisted if it was found doing this.

Then the focus switched to the tags in the HTML code.

These are there precisely to give an idea of what the site is about, but again it led to stuffing them with keywords, negating the effectiveness.

The next development was to judge websites by the amount of links they had with other sites, firstly one way links, then reciprocal links, then one way links but only from relevant sites.

This cat and mouse game has always gone on - the biggest search engine Google has a mantra of 'be nice', and strives to provide genuine results for users.

This is logical, as genuine results mean people will keep using Google, which now has shareholders to answer to.

The marketer is not interested in 'being nice', rather is much more interested in 'making sales', and this has led to the so called 'black hat' side of the fence where people use the latest tricks to try and get good rankings with Google.

In my view the best way to get the best ranking is to provide what Google want, which is genuine updated content on the subject at hand.

The latest Google favourite is Latent Symantic Index, or LSI, which means that rather than seeing a keyword phrase over and over on the page, they look for words that could naturally expect to also be seen on a genuine page about that phrase.

It's a complicated programme, and Google unsurprisingly are coy about revealing details, but it theoretically does favour site with genuine content.

Yes, you need to set your site up a certain way to make it easier for Google to rank it, but if your site simply does what it says it does, you won't have to cheat search engines for more web traffic.
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