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Google Bowling: How Competitors Can Sabotage You

Written by Michael Pedone for WebProNews

Have you heard about the latest “sport” in dirty online business?
It’s called Google Bowling and it represents a gaping flaw in
Google’s system that allows your competitors to sabotage your
site to the point of getting it banned or penalized.

This can’t happen, right? I mean, Google would have us believe
their algorithms are not easily manipulated and that your rankings
are safely under your (and their) control. But in fact there’s a
chink in Google’s armor that can have massive consequences for
any web business unfortunate enough to have aggressive and
unethical competitors.

Here’s the loophole, explained

It all began with Google’s aggressive attempts to curb link
popularity manipulation by penalizing sites that purchase
site- wide text link ads to get lots of incoming links in a
hurry. (eg: If the ad selling site had 1,000 pages, the
advertiser’s link would instantly be on 1,000 pages.)

Google began filtering sites that indulged in this kind of
linkage and either penalized or flat-out removed the site from
its database. Bad news for that business. Excellent news for
their competition. Can you guess what’s coming next?

Certain scoundrels began thinking: “If buying site-wide text link
ads en masse will get my site into hot water with Google, why
not buy them for my competitor’s site instead? Then just sit back
and wait for Google to solve my number one business headache…
the competition.” (Cue evil laughter sound track.)

This, ladies and gentlemen, is Google Bowling. Simple. Devious.
Devastating. And not just in theory; it’s really happening out
there.

Here at eTrafficJams.com, we are hearing from a lot of businesses
whose sites once enjoyed great rankings (ours included) and now
don’t even show up in Google for their own company name.

A small loophole has turned into a devastating black hole,
sucking in and wiping out countless quality websites in the
process. And it just may be their competitors sending them into
the abyss.

Is your head spinning yet? I mean, it was bad enough knowing that
with every Google update, your business may go up or down in the
rankings depending on the whims of the Google geeks. But now add
into the mix the fact that your competitors also have a hand in
your search engine health and wellness… well, Houston, we have
a problem.

Although this would be a fortuitous time for me to suggest that
the solution to this problem is hiring a reputable SEO firm
(like www.eTrafficJams.com) to watch over your rankings, I shall
resist the temptation. Instead, I’d like to offer Google – as if
they’re listening – a simple solution to this nasty problem.

Right now, Google hands out either rewards or harsh penalties for
linking strategies – good rankings to reward good linking
techniques, and penalties, such as the now-infamous sandbox, to
punish un-cool, manipulative linking practices. But there isn’t
any middle ground.

I say why not create a neutral response… a filter that simply
ignores questionable links, neither rewarding nor punishing
them?

1) Innocent victims of Google Bowling don’t get hurt.

2) If the dubious links actually were perpetrated by the business
at the receiving end of them, Google would exclude those links
and the site would gain nothing. It would simply be throwing ad
money out the window (unless, of course, it was buying site-wide
ads in vehicles that generated relevant traffic). And

3) Google’s reputation for delivering accurate and fair search
results would be restored.

Google needs to do something soon to plug this loophole, not just
for the immediate relief of its users but for its own credibility

Although being “Google Bowled” by a competitor and having your
site removed from the database could ruin a small business, the
consequences for Google could be just as dire. If chatter picks
up that Google’s results are easy to manipulate and consequently
inaccurate, users may be scared away to other search engines.

Fewer users = fewer clicks on ads = lower revenues. Well, I don’t
have to spell that out for the financial wizards at Google.

But just think: a few stories on the big TV networks, say on
MSNBC (*cough* think Bill Gates’ MSN Search, a major Google
competitor), revealing how the new sport of Google Bowling is
sweeping the nation… well, the average user at home may start
to have doubts about Google and maybe decide to try out Yahoo! or
MSN Search.

Is it really that far-fetched to speculate that someone like oh,
I don’t know, Mr. Gates, might take advantage of this situation to
solve his number one business headache… the competition?

So I suggest a simple solution to Google’s link bowling problem:
neutralize suspicious links so they are neither helpful nor
harmful. Problem solved. Sorry, Mr. Gates.

 

Camilla Todd
Camilla Todd is Head of Digital Marketing at WNW Digital and manages Search Engine Optimisation, PPC, Social Media campaigns and Brand Awareness for WNW Digital SEO clients. You can follow her on Twitter @camilla_wnw, email her at camilla@wnwdigital.co.uk or phone on 01392 349580