“The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.” ― Henry David Thoreau
Despite the obvious disparity in time between now and then, this sentiment has held true as society and technology has advanced. Often, the get-rich-quick type of schemes only leads to a complicated mess of seemingly good intentions. This stems from the idea: If there is an easier, faster way to get on top, why not take advantage of it?
What starts as the path of least resistance rarely ends with such simplicity. That distinction is exemplified in numerous ways throughout the business of digital marketing. As internet capabilities increase, as does users eagerness to trick or “beat” them. Yet the impressiveness of evolving shortcuts and cheat codes is continuously rendered less powerful by the methods in which to block and prevent them.
Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates provide the perfect example. They were created to crack down on the plethora of businesses using shortcuts – unethical search engine optimization techniques known as Black Hat SEO.
Black Hat SEO relies on underhanded back linking tactics to increase page rank or page authority, therefore lessening the impact of organic – or White Hat – SEO. Black Hat SEO upsets the delicate search engine algorithm balance by providing poor quality content solely for linking purposes. An example of a busted site – Build My Rank, is shown here.
The Panda and Penguin updates lower that risk by placing higher value on content and organic site links. The motivation behind these Google updates is to reward the sites practicing White Hat SEO. Foregoing shortcuts and putting in the work to build and share quality content results in increased, long-term online brand visibility.
When building links, it’s best to stick to the guidelines provided by Google WebMaster. If not, you will likely receive a notice from them in detection of unnatural links. As outlined here, it’s critical to remove those penalized links and begin rebuilding your ranking.
The following are Black Hat SEO techniques to look out for and avoid:
- Any instance in which you have to pay for links
- Promises of extremely high link volume
- “Blog or article networks” meant solely for linking purposes (These are often identified by a random assortment of odd and poorly written pieces and lack of accountability in authorship or contact information)