An unscrupulous SEO company can exploit any sort of notoriety for short-term advantage. The beneficiary of those efforts doesn’t even need to be the company or individual who earned the notoriety in the first place. Such black-hat SEO can harm the site that is being exploited, and even the site that is supposedly being served by the effort will ultimately suffer over the long term.
This phenomenon was highlighted in a Malewarebytes blog post on June 27th. It came less than a week after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that she had been denied service as the Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington, Virginia. The incident no doubt caused a boost in traffic to the eatery’s website from both supporters and detractors. Recognizing that effect, some hackers reportedly acted quickly to inject code into the site redirecting to ads for Viagra and other prescription drugs.
This sort of hacking is known as Search Engine Optimization or spamdexing, and it can function simultaneously as an act of revenge or petty attack on the targeted site, as well as a cynical ploy to bolster the SEO for client over the short term. Of course, no legitimate SEO company would employ the tactic, firstly because of the obvious ethical problem and secondly because black-hat methods almost always prove to be counterproductive over the long run.
This is a caution that we have offered to our readers in various other blog posts. If an SEO company promises you massive short-term gains in the ranking of your site, you should respond with a high level of scrutiny, based on the principle that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. When search engines pick up on the fact that traffic is being directed to your site unwittingly and from irrelevant source, then the prior advantages will be wiped out and your site may be delisted altogether.
This is to say nothing of the impact that such a scam will have on the site off of which your SEO company is piggybacking. A sudden upsurge in the incidence of irrelevant keywords can damage that site’s ranking for the keywords another SEO company has actually targeted. That damage could then take a long time to repair, which is why you should anticipate whether your site might ever be the target of retaliatory measures, and hire an SEO company that is prepared to recognize and counteract those efforts.
In this sense, a good SEO company is not only a means of promotion but also a means of defense against hackers. And this is especially true if that same SEO company also functions as your web developer and is therefore in a position to monitor any changes in your site’s code. This also speaks to something that we have emphasized repeatedly in this blog: there are clear benefits to an integrated strategy for web development, SEO, and digital marketing, insofar as all of these web services can build upon one another.
In view of the given case study in SEO poisoning, you might add web security to that same package of services.