Lance Armstrong and SEO

Jan 21, 2013

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By: Mike Green

Cheating Your Way to the Top

The last few years have been filled with stories of sports heroes who confessed that they cheated their way to the top. We all feel heartbroken and betrayed when we find out our inspiration isn’t all that inspirational. Similarly, many in the web marketing world try to cheat their way to the top by utilizing shady black hat techniques to fool Google into ranking. These techniques often produce stunning results in the short term, but ultimately they end up being punished by Google. To site a topical example, let’s look at how Lance cheated his way to the top and how that relates to Black Hat SEO.

Performance Enhancing Drugs

Lance confessed that he used performance enhancing drugs to help him win all 7 Tour de France races. In that same spirit, many SEO companies will use short term techniques such as link farms, keyword stuffing, and over optimization. All of these techniques give short term gains and unfair advantage over legitimate websites who are gaining traction organically. In 2012, Google cracked down on these methods and started doling out the punishments. SEO companies who’ve used these practices get no sympathy, but their clients are the ones who truly get hurt. Most clients don’t know they’ve been added to Google’s naughty list until its too late.

Competition Intimidation

One of the most egregious things that Lance admitted to is the intimidation of all those who stood in his path. This went beyond fellow cyclists and influenced doctors, associates, team members, and many others. In the SEO world, creating false content, or deceptive headlines often “trick” organic users into clicking on their sites instead of the one that they should be clicking on. Again, Google is doing everything they can to crack down on these types of practices. They’ve done a good job regulating paid search in this regard, but are now using those same punishment methods for those doing it organically. Bottom line: Don’t mis-represent what you are doing or selling. Google is watching…

Turn and Burn

Over the past 20 or so years, Lance burned many relationships. As long has his bank account could afford it, he was able to manipulate those around him to help keep the deception alive. For most along the way, their conscience caught up with them and they did their best to disassociate themselves from him. A sad trend in the SEO industry is the turn and burn model. Meaning that they acquire a new client, knowing that they’ve over promised the eventual result, and then under deliver until the client cancels. This industry has enough demand right now for many to be tempted into this model. This creates a dark cloud over the SEO industry much like the Lance Armstrong controversy has done for cycling.

What This Means

As a cyclist and a businessman, both of these examples make me sad. One for the sport that I love, and second because it is my livelihood. At Innovation Simple, we’re proud to say that all our techniques are White Hat. We protect our clients interests and give them real organic results. We are truthful in our expectations for their website and business. That is something that’s a rarity in this industry and frankly business as a whole.

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