Ever since the first search engine began ranking pages, many website owners have been less than honest about their websites. For the purposes of SEO, and several other factors, a lot of fudging goes on- which has kept algorithms popping for some time now at Google, Yahoo, Bing, et al.
The following are ten things website owners lie about the most:
- Traffic – This one is hard to sneak past search engines because of tools like Google Analytics. Site owners, however, may try to persuade unwitting advertisers or guests that their site is more popular than it actually is. Another common variation of this is to use page views instead of unique site visitors to inflate your traffic count. If you want to know how much traffic a site has, be sure to be specific about the metric you want (visitors, unique visitors, search only traffic, page views, etc.).
- Sales – In e-commerce, a website owner may be tempted to exaggerate his sales in order to stimulate an investment or gain more interest in his product or service (or more commonly intimidate competitors). For tax purposes, however, a website owner might want to do the opposite.
- Shipping and Handling – Another common ploy among some internet retailers is to inflate the S&H fees in order to increase per item profit margins. Charging well above the postal or shipping rates needed to actually ship the product is just outright greed.
- Security –Allowing their certificates to expire, and failing to use adequate encryption and security precautions, some websites are simply dishonest about how safe it is to visit their site or make purchases there.
- Source of Content – Plagiarized, duplicate, or spun content is rife on the interwebs. Some website owners aren’t even honest about where they get their content from. Software is available that will jumble the text of existing content in order to get it to pass through Copyscape or other plagiarism checking software.
- The Content Itself – Some website owners have even taken to masking the text of their pages by inserting keywords throughout the content in a font color that matches the background. By doing this their web pages will return in a search for those keywords, despite the fact that their website has nothing to do with the keyword subject matter.
- Website Ownership – Some website owners, particularly those who operate outside the bounds of honest and decent practices, will lie about the site ownership itself. They will use dummy corporations and fake or untraceable email addresses in order to operate with virtual impunity.
- Hyperlinks – In order to lure visitors to a particular page some website owners will use re-directs and false buttons on the browser window. This can be irritating or, even worse, a security risk.
- Typosquatting – Although this can’t accurately be regarded as outright lying, it’s a practice that is intended to draw traffic to one’s own website when it was attempting to go elsewhere. So it’s a more vague form of dishonesty in our book. Website owners will buy up common misspellings of popular domains so that when someone does misspell, that surfer is led to the owner’s site instead of the one they had intended to type.
No matter what the reasoning is behind the lies, lying to customers is a poor way to make profits. As your parents always said, honesty is the best policy. A good way to ‘punish’ lying websites is to boycott their goods and services. After all, as long as they are making a profit, they will continue in their ways.
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