You have been following all the rules of SEO and the best practices guidelines laid out by Google. Your site is meticulously maintained and you install updates in a timely manner. Your copy is informative, engaging and friendly for both human visitors and search spiders. Still, something is going wrong and your rankings are dropping.
When you finally manage to fight and claw your way up to the top of the SERPs, sometimes it draws the attention of competitors that don’t always play by the rules. As you stand back and proudly gaze upon your hard work your smile disappears when you see someone that doesn’t play by the rules taking aim at your site. What do you do when some website owner decides to play dirty?
Everyone that has legitimately built a good site hates the black hatters. The black hatters are the ones who come in, stand on our back and our careful work and steal the spotlight and rankings we poured ourselves into earning by using practices which are not endorsed by the SERPs. These are the content scraping, link buying, bottom dwelling scum that make our lives miserable. They make up their own rules and have no regard for the work of others.
If this happens to you, what steps can you take to get back to where you were? Even though black hat tactics usually don’t last for long, there is little solace in knowing that. There are some steps you can take to nip this type of practice in the bud as quickly as possible.
Start by actively watching for plagiarism. Do this in regard to your own work and others because it negatively impacts all of us. Community policing and pressure often works the best to help combat black hattery. Report link buying and other Webmaster Guideline violations as soon as they are spotted. When everyone does their part, black hat tactics are rooted out and stopped quicker.
What you avoid is trying to fight fire with fire. Some people cheat and scam and get away with it – for a while. Just because someone else is doing it doesn’t mean that you have to. There is no need to break the rules and stoop to their level. What you need to do is continue following the best practices that got you where you are in the first place.
Think of it like the guy that parks his car where he isn’t supposed to. He has no regard for the rules. He parks his car up alongside the building in a no parking zone instead of back away from the restaurant where there was room. He may get away with it nine times, but the tenth time it all goes wrong. Someone gets sick and needs medical assistance and because he parked where he wasn’t supposed to, emergency vehicles have to park far away.
Once this cheater is identified, the firemen, paramedics, police and the restaurant owner all expose him for his cheating. Because of that, he’s issued a citation and banned from the restaurant ever more. This is a real world reminder of why we don’t cheat. We don’t just avoid cheating in the physical world, we avoid cheating in the virtual world as well because it is wrong, eventually we will get caught, and we will pay the price for it. When someone uses black hat tactics, the result is the same in a sense – a citation and a ban after being exposed.
This is why the only way to go is with white hat SEO. When someone cheats us, it is easy to feel the temptation to yield to a quick blast of success that black hat tactics can deliver just to feel like we are doing something. Don’t be evil! Karma is always there and it is always waiting! Play by the rules and you will win in the long run. Do good and good will come back to you. It may take longer but it will also last.