This SEO scam is so new that it hasn’t even begun yet, at least not to my knowledge. I don’t want to give SEO scammers ideas, but I am 100% certain that this is coming and that there will be many, many, many (did I mention “many”?) unsuspecting webmasters who will fall for it, so let’s for once get the warnings about the scam out there before it begins.
Google’s new personalized search has already begun, and within months it will start to skew Google’s rankings in two ways.
First, data Google gathers about how people are searching will certainly start to be factored into the general algorithm. This means that on-page relevancy and inbound links will have to share the stage with such factors as click-through rates, click-back rates (back to Google from the site), length of visit, number of pages viewed, repeat visits, etc. In other words, Google will be better able to measure “good” content from trash.
A whole industry will sprout up to help webmasters take advantage of this, much of it black hat (like click fraud, perhaps?), some white hat, mostly to create more “sticky” content, improve click-through rates and encourage people to “vote” in some way for the site. On the white hat side, TheBookmarketer can help you move ahead right away, as I reported in this post on how to use social bookmarking to a website’s advantage.
Second, the data it collects from each individual will be used to present more personalized results to that individual. Exactly how this will work remains to be seen, as there are many ways that Google has hinted it can factor the information into a person’s individual results. But one thing is for certain…as soon as SEO scammers get a sense of some of the factors that affect personalized results, the scamming will begin. Here is exactly what the scammers will do:
1. The scammer will tell the website owner to sign up for a Google account.
2. The scammer will tell the webmaster to “visit your website every day” or “visit at least ten pages of your site in succession every day” or “Google bookmark your website” or “do the following ten searches and click on your site from the rankings every day”. The precise instructions will depend on the factors that most influence personal search.
3. The scammer will promise that the website owner will see his site move up in the rankings. And he will see it move up in the rankings. But only on his computer using his personalized search. Even if his website shows up as #1 for “broken glass”, none of the broken-glass-buying market might even see his site in their results.
This scam won’t fool everybody. It is most likely to work on the little guy, who operates from one computer and would not think to compare results. It might not work forever, but what scammer will stick around to argue the finer points once he’s sucked the money out of an unsuspecting website owner’s pockets?
Google will surely take steps to reduce this in order to protect the integrity of its results (remember the searcher is whom Google must please), but like every game of locks and lock-pickers, there will be plenty of scams flying under Google’s radar or keeping one step ahead.
The best protection a webmaster has against this sort of scam is to include mention of it in passing in every article posted on the Internet about personal search. Hopefully not too many webmasters will miss it before hiring an SEO scammer. And that’s why today I am outing the scammers before they even start!
Written by David Leonhardt
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