Your parents probably instilled the good ol’ “honesty is the best policy” ideology into your head before you even began attending grade school. Lies are bad and can hurt people, break trust, and even get you incarcerated. It’s sound advice that your parents likely gave to you with the best intentions.
That said, the temptation to lie, cheat, and steal is in every human being. Teenagers like having a girl- or boyfriend so much they network for more; a DJ getting a cake delivered to the studio with an envelope underneath asking a particular song be played more often does no real harm; and we all wonder what we would really do if we found a fat bag of money on the sidewalk, carelessly dropped by a lazy bank employee. People are people, and the values we learn as kids get tested a lot throughout our lives.
But there are some places you simply can’t cheat: casinos use security systems and muscular guards to ensure honesty and airports employ similar tactics to prevent smuggled contraband from leaving the country. Then there’s the Internet.
Business pros are no strangers to trying the bend the rules of good, honest practices, and when they get caught, the consequences are dire. Online business is an arena where trying to cheat can cost you greatly. Knowing why can help you keep your nose clean and your business reputable, as well as bring greater success in the end.
The temptation to cheat in online business, outside of hacking and illegal money transfers, comes with certain search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and online business mechanisms. Online pros often think they can “beat the system,” as it were, but the system is powerful and in place to keep everything fair for everyone involved.
One of the most popular dishonest tactics is keyword density abuse. When online business pros learn that keyword phrases are what get people to a business via search engines, their eyes light up. If one keyword phrase is good, they figure that choking web content with all sorts of keyword phrases wherever they can put them will improve their business performance. This even applies to the SEO vs. PPC debate—keywords are king, so pros think they have to be everywhere.
But the online business watchdogs are aware of this. They monitor business web sites’ on-page techniques fairly accurately, often publicly noting how obvious such material is, as such content is poorly written and easy to spot in online searches. The big watchdog, Google Panda, will waste no time in shutting web sites with this sort of keyword bloat down, blocking potential client traffic. This is important to note even now, as in July 2013, Google Panda announced that new rollouts of Panda updates, while softer than previous updates, were available and actively seeking legitimate web sites at any given hour. Those online pros thinking they could beat Google Panda by displaying their content at set hours where Panda may or may not be watching might want to think twice, as Panda is active at no set times and the consequences of getting caught, especially when you least expect it, will be tough.
Shiny Halos and Good Business
There are other ways in which many have tried to cheat at online business: paying people off to get private e-mail information for promotion purposes, stealing or copying content for their own use, and creating links in places they shouldn’t off their own site. But in the end, as exciting as it may seem, it’s all bunk, only resulting in big penalties for the perpetrators. If you are serious about doing good business online, you really need to keep your halo shiny. As hard as it is to keep up good practices, you’ll learn far more and see how to make your business better online than had you cheated. Over time, you’ll get to enjoy and increase in business and, in the end, will maintain a very respectable business image.