Identifying SEO Risks – Short Term Gain Versus Long Term Viability

I was on the phone with a good friend of mine last night and he was complaining that his two best earners got shot down, penalized, punted, picked on, what have you. For six months he explained, those two sites had been 1 or 2 in the SERPs, now they weren’t in the top one-hundred results.

I did a little checking and what I found wasn’t a surprise. His two ‘kings of the SERPs’ were pretenders to the throne. I explained that he took some risks that he probably shouldn’t have taken. His response surprised me a bit. He said, ‘Man, when I made those decisions they didn’t seem very risky’. So how do you identify real risk? What are the signals?

  • Reward is disproportional to the amount of work involved. If a single click can catapult your site to the front page it’s a good bet the search engines are working to prevent that result from occurring. Think it’s impossible? Remember what ROS links on a 500,000 page site used to do?
  • The technique employed exploits the hard work of others. Comment spam, scraping, plagiarism, content aggregation, etc.
  • The technique has little or no benefit outside of manipulating an algorithm.
  • It’s so easy anyone can do it. If anyone can do it, everyone will be doing it and long-term effectiveness is doubtful. Please note that I’m not talking about creating Meta tags or crafting good page titles.
  • This is probably the most important bit, and the one people seem to have the most difficulty with – The technique makes you feel like you have something to hide. Nothing, nothing remains hidden on the Web.

You can ignore all the above if you have some domains you wish to churn and burn. This is for people that want to ensure long-term viability for domains that they can’t afford to have shot down.

There you have it, no millinery involved, no judgments made. it’s all about identifying and accepting the risk.


  1. ” Remember what ROS links on a 500,000 page site used to do?”

    Heh. Now we know why Google’s trust filters require VOLUME before they (cough! cough!) kick in….

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