Google Bowling – bad SEO gone wild.

June 8, 2006

Topics: Search Marketing.

Googlebowling
a term used to describe a method of maliciously removing a page from the Google search results

I’ve posted before on malicious SEO techniques – or, I suppose, "anti-optimization", referring to a story related by Nick Lewis.
Recently, the subject has arisen once more after Rand Fishkin returned from SES London with a tale of horror. Well, more an interesting proposition of how such a thing could be accomplished, but you get the picture.

The basic story is this: if you link to a set of perfectly reasonable sites, who are then pointed at by spammy sites, you may receive a penalty by association – once the formerly respectable sites are damned, your own site may be sent in the handbasket alongsides. This can hypothetically happen in any number of ways – but the end result can be very unfortunate. It’s unclear whether this is actually true – I haven’t seen any confirmation.

Google’s Sitemaps team claims it’s not possible for inbound links to damage a site’s rankings, so perhaps this technique is not actually possible.

The point of the whole exercise however is to emphasize that ranking is never entirely the product of the quality of your own site. The better the actual quality of your site, the more secure you are – but there are many external factors which could have a dangerous effect. If you’ve suddenly lost your presence in Google, but can’t identify anything wrong with your site, perhaps you’ve been targeted by some kind of internet espionage.

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