In the world of sports, we have seen a recent crackdown on champion athletes who have relied on performance enhancers to extend their career, become a bit faster, or otherwise gain an illegal or unethical edge over their opponents.
From big-name cyclists to baseball superstars and football greats, it seems that many have looked to get a leg up through advanced pharmaceuticals.
And while that might seem to have nothing to do with online marketing, the reality is that the tactics used by athletes who use and business owners who try to unnaturally influence search engines and social sites aren't all that different. In each case, they are trying to accomplish something rapidly that would normally take years of hard work... and often end up damaging themselves in the process.
So, could your business website pass a drug test right now?
Here are a few ways to tell:
Clean business websites have content that has grown naturally over time.
Just like the NFL star who comes back from the off-season with 50 pounds of additional muscle mass, a business website that suddenly added dozens of new blog posts seems a bit suspect.
Clean business websites have their own original content.
In endurance sports, it isn't unusual to hear athletes trying to swap blood and other fluids with others to enhance performance or beat tests. In the web marketing world, copying, duplicating, or "spinning" pages from your competitors is a great way to turn off customers and be banned by search engines and social sites.
Clean business websites have inbound links that make sense.
One of the surest ways to catch cheaters and sports is to look for "statistical aberrations" - things that don't make sense in the context. The same is true with your business website. If you suddenly have lots of people linking to you from outside your area or industry, that's a fairly clear-cut sign that you're doing the wrong things to try to game the system.
Editor's note: Google's Report Spam website allows webmasters to flag spam sites, black hat tactics and inappropriate content.
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