I run a pretty white hat local search engine optimization operation here but I often am tempted by the so-called dark side. If you talk to some black-hatters out there it just seems way too easy to game search engines for short term gains. So once in a while I get the urge to try something out just to see what would happen.
I was particularly intrigued by a well-publicized trick that involves linking to a page on a high authority site like weather.com which has a custom Yahoo! search engine. You do a search like this “site:yoursite.com yourkeyword” and you get a page on weather.com with links to your site with your keyword in the anchor text. You link to this page from your site and in theory Google will crawl it and boost your ranking for the keyword.
So I gave it a shot and of course Google had already figured this one out and instead of a ranking I got a yanking. Not only did my site disappear in the results for the keyword but also for several related keywords.
Once I saw what was happening I removed the link and guess what? In about three days all of my rankings came back. Now I am not going to get all wishy washy about how Google does no evil, but I think that’s a pretty cool policy. It’s like they know that people have a natural tendency to subvert things but if they come clean all is forgiven.
So the next time you think it might be worth it to use some dodgy tactics, stop what you are doing, bow your head and repeat after me “Bless Me Google For I Have Sinned”.
Update: For more about how Google can ding you sinners for this kind of stuff check out this post from Hitwise.