Back in June I did a fun little experiment, I spammed Google. Anyone who has dedicated any serious thought to online marketing, and more particularly, Search Engine Optimization has thought about it. In fact, if you have any level of fascination at all with SEO, I’m sure you even contemplated the dark side. There are many ways to spam Google, but I chose to dabble in a fairly harmless and extremely easy Google spam “trick.” I hesitate to even call it a trick, because that would give this exercise far more credit than it deserves.
Step 1: Just Make a List of Keywords
I wanted to see what would happen if I slapped a hundred or so keyword phrases on a page. What sort of traffic I could generate through the search engines by doing this? What would I gain from doing this? The first thing I need is a list of keywords so my spam victims will find our page.
Step 2: Skip Step 1 and Let Google Suggest the Keywords
I got the keywords from Google suggest. Google suggest is simply suggested keyword phrases that Google gives you when you begin typing in a search.
I started with the phrase “does google.” After I typed in “does google” I typed in one letter, beginning with the letter “a” and ending with the lettter “z.” For example “does google a,” “does google b,” etc. What I was trying to find were common questions that people were searching for in Google. I then put all those phrases in a list and listed them into a blog post called “158 Things People Want to Know About Google” with a two sentence introduction. (NOTE: I have since removed the blog post for reasons that should be obvious once you finish this intriguing blog post). This took me about 15 minutes to do start to finish.
Step 3: Stand Back in Awe of you New Google Spam Traffic
I generated spam-driven search traffic. Hurray! My top phrase was “does google latitude cost money” and my second place phrase was “does google pay people to work at home.” I generated roughly 94 visits in a couple of months time. What this goes to show is that content alone can drive search traffic. Despite what Matt Cutts will lead you to believe, content doesn’t have to be good and it doesn’t have to add value to drive traffic. It just has to be indexed by the search engines and searched for.
What did I accomplish?
1. I pissed about 94 people off and wasted their time. They were looking for the answer to a question and I lured them into my little experiment instead. I’m such a jerk.
2. I wasted 15 minutes of my time. In the time I did that, I could have watched a whiteboard Friday and learned some real SEO.
3. I damaged our company’s reputation slightly.
Let’s look at the above numbers again.
Bounce Rate: 94.7%
Average Time on Site: Six seconds
Pages Per Visit: 1.07
Pretty pathetic. Only five people looked at anything else on our site and three of them were looking to make money from home, which isn’t exactly our target market. So that leaves two visits from people who, for a reason we won’t ever know, clicked on something else. Also, regular readers and potential clients who stumbled across this post probably thought something along the lines of “WTF is this?”
The Moral of the Story
Spamming Google will drive traffic and some people will even click through to other parts of a website. However, doing so will irritate a vast majority of visitors and it is highly unlikely to lead to new business. In this exercise only five people were intrigued or bored or confused enough to click on another page. These folks were not likely potential clients. I would have been far better off spending 15 minutes writing decent content on a specific subject or providing value in some other way that only generated, say, ten visits from the search engines. The odds are much better that one of these visits will result in something positive for our company.
The Unmoral of the Story
This was a very simple and half-assed attempt at spamming. There are people who are very good at spamming Google AND make a lot of money doing so. To illustrate, let’s scale our pathetic little example again. First, assume that we don’t care about our image or brand in any way. Also, instead of driving 94 visits, assume we did something to drive 9,400 visits. And from those 9,400 visits we generated 200 visits from people not looking to work from home. Now we are getting into the realm of possibly generating a lead or monetizing the traffic in some way. I think that with these kind of numbers it is still unlikely, but possible. Multiply the numbers by ten again and you are starting to get somewhere. That is how search engine spamming works and why people do it.
Go Big or Go Home
Spam on a small level is a waste of time, but spam on a large scale starts to make sense. Of course when you do that, you start to draw the attention of Google (and your competitors), so an effective strategy on a given domain is usually very short lived. Being an effective spammer takes a lot of skill and experience.
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