There’s a lot that SEO experts put up with. Link baiting, optimizing on competitor’s names and brands, doorway pages, tricky little dynamic search insertion ads – we roll our eyes. But there are three things, particularly in Local SEO, that will bring the wrath of the Search Industry down upon you like the Book of Revelation without the happy ending.
If you want to invite the scorn of the Search Gods and other business then by all mean perform these unforgiveable sins. There is no giggling, there is no “my bad”, there is no saying “I’m sorry, I was wrong.” These will earn you a swift kick in your IP address.
Unforgiveable Sin of Local SEO #1: False Reviews
Pumping up your review numbers with fake reviews from fake accounts is not only low and sneaky, but misleading and and treacherous to your local community. If, somehow, the fake reviews were suddenly identified to be generated by the business owner, how would people respond? Amazon has information for you on that. Remember the Belkin reviews? Fake reviews will be found out and you will be penalized – maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but one day. Don’t take the chance.
Unforgiveable Sin of Local SEO #2: Claiming someone else’s listing
Local search business centers, like Google’s, have made great pains for this to be less of an issue. Because of that, the attempt to claim a local listing not your own will incure that much more wrath. If someone owns someone elses listing, that locks out the real owner from fleshing out their profile with descriptions, coupons, keywords and descriptions. The only thing more heinous would be to optimize a site of your competitor’s and rank it higher than the official one.
Unforgiveable Sin of Local SEO #3: Copying Content
One could argue this is just a business tactic. No, sir! It’s plagerism. Besides the penalties for duplicate content on the web, you come off as unimaginative and … well … lame. It’s also apparant that you did just happen to type the same thing with your brand in its place.
Is this Black hat SEO? No. Black hat is simply using technology to increase gains artificially. These techniques are just in bad taste and are beyond cheating.
Do you have any other sins that should be on this list? What have you seen that you would consider “shady” or “gray?”