SEO stands for "Search Engine Optimization." It's an online marketing strategy for businesses to get their websites listed on the first page of search engines, based on the "PageRank" algorithm and keyword combination that people use for searching.
There are numerous kinds of tactics for businesses to increase their page ranking. Most of the businesses have to hire online marketing consulting companies to handle their SEO campaign. The "whitehat SEO" firm are paid to work out a "link strategy" by "following" Google's rules. But the rules are constantly changed, this forces businesses to pay more to catch up with the latest rules.
This ends up with a lot of "dirty SEO". Here is how they typically work, for example:
- Create networks of fake sites to provide backlinks on popular keywords, say "Justin Bieber Lyrics," to artificially inflate their page rank
- Place spam comments using bots on legitimate sites to boost the site rank
- Pay legitimate sites to place backlinks to artificially transfer page rank as an exchange
Here is a recent example that attracted a lot of discussions on Hacker News:
People are arguing about Google's double standard that is favoring well-connected customers over not well-connected customers. Since a lot of companies are playing the same game, the smaller and weaker players are knocked down first. They have to actually pay the penalty. The penalty is long.
At the end of the day, "If you are good at dirty SEO, you will accept your punishment on one site/business and restart with a different site/business, and hopefully last longer until getting caught this time."
Is this a good solution we will follow for the next couple of years or decades? Here are some people's concerns:
"I have to note, you have to be big to make a comeback like this. Google provided the disavow tool, but from my experience it is simply not working. So it is manual action for sure."
"This really shows that even in Silicon Valley, your success is driven as much by the connections you have and the people you know, rather than pure talent and merit."
"This whole story made me fear that Google was choosing power over user experience."
Do all of the above sound too negative? Some people argued back saying Google is in the position to play monopoly, so businesses need to follow and find the way out, nothing is unfair. While some other people start to look for new search engine solutions and need more "viable search engine competition."