The Hidden Truth Behind SERP Manipulation

In the SEO world, so much emphasis is placed on the search engine results that the whole world seems to revolve only around one all-consuming reason for existing which is to aim for that top page in the search engine results.

Since, not many people question the infallibility of these search engine results (maybe partly because of the fact that not many people can actually relate or carry an intelligent conversation when words such as algorithms are thrown back their way to explain how these results came about), we just accept these search results as gospel truth.

However, make no mistake about it however, these search engine results can be manipulated by some very enterprising or persistent parties.

For instance, in an effort to sway public opinion about their company practices or about some popular topics which may reflect badly on their reputation or standing, some companies actually resort to hiring Search Engine Marketing (SEM) companies to pushing down sites that are not in line with their opinions and at the same time lifting those sites which will help form a more favorable opinion for their company atop the search engine results.

These SEMs are able to do this by trading links as some sort of online currency. They create and/or buy sites in order to load up on links which they can use to direct onto wherever they please so as to make a significant impact on the search engine results that the top page results will be modified as a result.

These search engine marketing companies know how the search engine robots work and that the algorithms for various search results (including news, images, videos and others) are predicated around pre-set characteristics and external references, hence they try and use this knowledge in order to manipulate them by using all the available online tools that they can find which includes content, back linking, social networking, forum posting, guest blogging, etc until they achieve their desired result.

They are often hired by lobby groups, multi-national companies, and even some countries.     

In the case of big multi-national companies, they usually engage in what is being called as Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM) which aims to highlight branded search results while keeping away the bad results. The rationale behind this is to promote those websites generating positive reviews for the company and its services. If they can have all these sites crowd the Top 10 of the search results page then it will be very difficult for other sites which are unfriendly to their company to come in and be included in that top page.

In the case of lobby groups, they try to use SEM services to create search engine results that can manipulate media coverage and public opinion on a certain topic which they are invested in.

The services that these SEM firms offer include “cleansing” which pushes the unfavorable sites down the ranks, “protecting” which makes it hard for other sites to rank on branded search terms, “steering” which tries to influence research queries for media coverage and public opinion, and “dominating” which aims to control the overall picture across all related search queries.




George Peterson currently works for one of the leading search marketing agencies in Denmark – Outrider. He currently works as a SEO (interesting to know is that the Danish term is søgemaskineoptimering) manager.

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