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Search Engine Spam Crackdown- Make Sure You’re on the Right Side of SEO

seo-blackhatBusinesses and marketers have both begun to embrace Google+ Local as an opportunity to plug a business with its target audience – nearby searchers.  While many use tried and true SEO methods, such as diligent keyword research and use, quality content generation, others have taken a slightly more dubious route: paying users to write positive reviews, or posting “anonymous” positive reviews to increase a site’s ranking on search engines.  These less-than-legitimate tactics are called “black hat” SEO, and are frowned upon by search engines and SEO companies alike.  Now, the search engine giant warned businesses today to think twice before trying to game the system; Google has updated its spam algorithm, which means that it will be cracking down on “spam reviews” and taking down overly promotional or false reviews.

Google has emphasized that while it will take down “glowing positive reviews” that are written by SO or third party reputation management companies, it will not take down negative reviews, unless they violate the company’s guidelines or are similarly false.  In order to help companies avoid using these underhanded practices, Google has released a list of advice and best practices for reviewers and SEO on Google+ Local reviews.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Google does not allow anyone to post on behalf of others; therefore, practices such as companies digitizing paper comment cards (popular in service businesses, such as restaurants) and optimizing them will not be allowed
  • To avoid being flagged as false or spam, companies should not have visitors fill out electronic comments/reviews on a business computer, tablet, or using the companies IP address.  Instead, email them to ask them to review your company on your own time – this is a great opportunity for you to flex your email marketing skills!
  • Don’t offer gifts or discounts to customers in exchange for positive reviews!

As for reviewers, Google advises them to avoid writing reviews for their current places of employment, and to not include links in their reviews, to ensure that they are not flagged as false.

Google isn’t alone in its quest to halt spam or paid reviews; business review site Yelp announced a crackdown on false positive reviews in October 2012.  Yelp now posts disclaimers on violators’ pages, alerting visitors that the business has written or paid for falsely positive reviews in the past, and that they should be especially critical of the information they read on that business page.

At inSegment Search Engine Optimization Company, we don’t participate in nefarious SEO tactics, nor do we advise our clients to do so either.  Our SEO services include a wide range of relevant, legitimate off-page SEO efforts, so you never have to worry about getting flagged as illegitimate or have reviews taken down.  We want our clients to get great results, the right way.

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This entry was posted on March 21, 2013 by in Internet Marketing.
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