Gaming Google is Going to Cost You


If you are a marketer on the internet, odds are you’ve come across at least one “Get Rich Quick” scam that teaches you some questionable practices. You may have even purchased it. Heck, I’ve made the mistake before. It’s in our nature to seek ways to be better than our competitors, and sometimes our desire to be the best throws “common sense” out of the window.

It’s time to roll down your window and grab that common sense, because gaming Google has consequences.

Ask the Keyword Stuffers


Google has never cared much for cheating. Back in the day, instead of finding a helpful article about the dangers of cheating the system, you would find something similar to this:

Google Google+ Google Plus cheating gaming system black white hat seo sex gaming google…

I could have gone on, but I didn’t want Google’s search algorithm to think I was actually cheating. If my site is de-indexed because of this, feel free to laugh at the irony while I go broke!

How many of you have come across a page like this? You are frantically searching for an answer to a question or researching for your thesis, and you come across a page full of keywords. I tried to use examples circa 2005 because that’s when search engines started really cracking down on this stuff.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this tactic, you basically fill a website with keywords and only keywords.

It was easy, and it was supposed to get you to rank high in search results. In the example above you may have seen the keyword “sex”. Well, guess what was (and is) a popular search term on the internet… Yep!

Inserting Keywords The Right Way

Often the simplest way to do something right is to just do it naturally. When you’re writing content, just let the pen flow. Unless you suffer from some moderate ADD — then you might want to map your content out a bit (that’s what I do).

Some of the more “skilled” content writers or readers might be able to pick out what keyword I’m targeting here. It’s “Gaming Google”, and I’ve used it 6 times in this article. However, it’s not in every sentence. That would make for a pretty terrible article, and potentially raise my bounce rate. I’ll probably write an article about bounce rate related to traffic from Facebook. I see the lightbulb over some of your heads!

Some of you may even research this keyword and say, “You know what Brian, you picked a horrible keyword to target.” You’re right. It’s certainly not one of the best, but I do have my reasons. I’ll let you know when I think of one.

Link Buildings Demolished

This was a more recent trend. Have you heard of the Panda or Penguin Google updates? Well, if you were gaming Google with questionable link building methods then you probably don’t care for either animal much!

People saw opportunity in getting links to all sorts of sites. Some even chose to buy links from poor quality sites to get more traffic. The theory was the more links you had from websites the more popular your website would be, ending with your site ranking higher on Google. What got people in trouble were not the number of links, but the quality of the sites.

Some signs of a site being low-quality include:

  • An unusual amount advertisements
  • High volume of content, low volume of traffic
  • Low quality content

Remember that thing we yanked back in our window earlier? Common sense should make these sites fairly obvious.

Building Links The Right Way

Linking to other sites is still beneficial. You just have to take care which sites you link to. In theory, link building the “right way” isn’t terribly difficult. If you got inspiration for your content somewhere, link to that site. Generally any site that you’ve read and gotten some good content from is a safe bet.

A new theory that is in the forefront of the SEO community is Google author rank. Perhaps linking to sites with high ranking authors will become a new link building strategy? Food for thought!

False Google+ Local Reviews


I couldn’t think of a witty heading for this section so let’s get straight to the point. Recently, Google has warned businesses to avoid creating fake Google+ Local reviews. Perhaps this is a preemptive endeavor by Google — defining some grey areas so people know ahead of time that they’re breaking the rules.

If you’re wondering what’s going on here, chances are you don’t have a business that relies on customers coming through a door. Google+ Local allows people to leave reviews about your place of business. Positive reviews are great! They motivate people to choose you over everyone else. The more positive reviews, well, the more business you’re likely to get.

There is another angle that I think business owners are worried about though, and it’s the flip side to that coin: negative reviews.

Dealing With Negative Reviews

First off, you can’t delete them unless they violate Google’s guidelines. (Nice try!) That means that your negative reviews will be sticking around. What to do?

Respond to them! Your customers are leaving feedback on ways to improve your business, and hopefully they’re not just trolling you. Assuming their opinions are genuine and based off of their personal experience, you should look at the feedback.

Positive reviews resulting from listening to a negative review will outweigh the original negative one. Didn’t follow that? People will see that you made a change in response to a negative review, and that’s a positive action.

The Cost of Gaming Google

In the worst case scenario Google will de-index your site. That means that you will show up in zero Google search results. That should be enough to scare you into wearing your white SEO hat.

Generally, Google will just penalize your rank in search. It really depends on the offense and how many infractions your site has had in the past. What about this newly developing notion of author rank though? Perhaps some new possible penalties involve this fabled metric.

Ask any marketer who ignored their common sense. They’ll be the first to admit that gaming Google just isn’t worth it.


Creator of Up Your Plus in 2012. Brian has enjoyed writing and actively teaching how to use Google+ to other marketers and business owners. He considers himself approachable and a genuinely friendly person. He also thinks it's pretty odd to type in the 3rd person...

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  • JesseWojdylo

    I agree with you completely Gundy. Coming from someone who used to “play the game” the only real way to increase search results is to create quality content and get natural link backs. I have *many* friends in the SEO world with access to thousands of powerful websites. I have never asked for a link back. If they find my content valuable they will link back at the right time.

    Thanks for a great read and this will be reshares. At 1:24 pm.

    • Brian Gundersen

      Thanks Jesse. Too many “how to write the best blog” sites are teaching some of these methods, and making people focus too much about keywords and links and not the content itself.

      Also, Disqus doesn’t *bold* things like Google+ does. Shame! :D

  • Rob Wagner

    Nice read Brian. You don’t have to play the game chasing tricks.

    There is nothing wrong with reaching out and building relationships in order to create opportunity for links. I like guest blogging, not for a link, but for the exposure. Unlike Jesse, not everyone has access to thousands of powerful websites so you have to start somewhere.

    • Brian Gundersen

      If I’ve learned one thing from using Google+ Rob, it’s a powerful tool for collaboration. Last year I got some of the top influencers at the time to come together and collaborate in a blog post, and I only had about 500 followers.

      Now that I can focus most of my time on Google related things I plan on doing some more collaborating, both on this site and elsewhere.

      • Rob Wagner

        The next time you have a collaboration keep me in mind :)

  • Nikol Murphy

    Nice summary as to why you should just play by the rules. Hopefully, many people will reach out of the window and grab their common sense. It is of no use to them out there flapping in the wind.

  • daniel imbellino

    Great article Brian! I couldn’t agree more. People need to quit focusing on keywords and start focusing on overall content. I’ve never done any keyword research ever. I tend to think of the best way to describe something without focusing on simple keywords.

    Great description of “gaming google.” I can’t believe that people are still using the keyword loading tactic, I’m seeing this all over posts linked from G+ constantly. Just a million keywords and no thought or content. It makes no viable sense.

    • Brian Gundersen

      Thanks Daniel! There’s always going to be people trying to find ways around the current generation of search algorithms or “optimization”. They may even see results! But we know better, and in this case the cheaters almost never win in the long run.

      • daniel imbellino

        Much agreed :)