23 August 2009

Google Bowling: What is it? Does it Work?

After being in the industry for years, we often forget that not everyone is familiar with every term we use. We take lots of knowledge for granted. This is not unique to SEO: it happens in every specialty field.

The industry phrase is “Google Bowling”: Manipulating the external ranking factors that Google uses to penalize a site against your competitors (or someone you just don’t like or want to appear in the SERPs).
On the most basic level, it’s exactly what was described in the comment: A really bad / obvious link farm pointed at a competitors site. There is not enough information from the “example” question to give a good “how many bad links would it take” answer. Everything is really on a case by case basis. If you have a site of the target’s strength, how much spamming can you do before you get a penalty?

There are plenty of other ways to get a competitors site banned or totally screwed in Google. Imagine the example where someone leaves a comment on a site with a link. That link is later redirected to a virus. The site is then reported to stopbadware: then everyone who goes to the site from Google is told that the site is potentially harmful for at least a month while they struggle with customer (no)service. There are other, even more malicious ways of taking down sites that I’d rather have as few people know about as possible.

For the Aspiring Google Bowler the question you have to ask yourself is: what are the ranking / banning / penalty factors that Google looks at for the target site / page that YOU have some control over. Add in some social engineering and a mind for mischief and it’s easy to see how Google bowling works.

For the Corporate Customer that really wants to Protect their brand: don’t try to tackle this on your own. If you brand is worth in the millions or billions of dollars: pay the money to have someone manage ALL the SERPs for your brand related queries. While this will be impossible for some brands (Viagra springs to mind), for the vast majority of companies and brands, the SERPs can be sanitized to include only things you want your customers to see: by hook or by crook.

The price for this type of service usually starts at $100k per year and goes up from there (for the people that can actually deliver what they promise). I know a few of the best in the Industry that do this and let me put it this way: it’s worth it for companies that do billions in sales to spend a few million a year on Search Engine Reputation Management over and above what they spend on PPC, links and rankings.
contributed by, Abhishek SEO

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