In SEO circles there’s a constant debate about white hat, black hat and all the shades of grey in between. In a recent article on the New York Times website, this was exemplified by the extreme business methods of the ecommerce site DecorMyEyes.
The practises of DecorMyEyes are simply to be rude and threatening to customers in hope that they will retaliate by posting complaints online. These comments are often accompanied by a link to the webshop, which subsequently helps its rankings in Google and other search engines. The reason for this link juice flow is two fold: firstly it’s the apparent lack of SEO-knowhow by customer complaint-sites as they are not using the “nofollow” tag to remove any link juice, and also the search engines lack of sentiment analysis.
Implementation of the “nofollow” tag is simple enough, and considered best practise for user generated links that the site owner can’t vouch for. When it comes to sentiment analysis it’s a much trickier matter. In short my take is that as there’s no apparent way of doing it the right way, it’s better left untouched by the search engines to avoid even greater fears of “negative SEO” which could remove unpopular but important people and companies from the search engines for the wrong reasons.
Regarding the “good to be bad” methodology, I simply think it’s nonsense. You’re either honest, or your not. No serious SEO or business person would ever suggest that you should follow the example of DecorMyEyes.
While link baiting is a common tactic among SEO’s and many times they are overly controversial in order to achieve inbound links (again this is leveraging the fact that there’s no sentiment analysis), they should still be ethical and inline with the brand they are representing.