Don't use these nefarious tactics to improve your company website's search rankings, or you'll soon pay the price.

In SEO - as in so many aspects of life - there's a right way to do things, and there are wrong ones. Recently, several examples of how SEO should not be implemented have drawn much attention, including DecorMyEyes - an online retailer who boasted that complaints about his business helped boost its standing in Google search results.

Such stories are by no means the only ones out there, of course - they've just drawn more publicity than most. With this in mind, we've drawn up a list of the six dirty SEO tricks you definitely shouldn't implement if you're looking at improving your company's search rankings.

1. Cloaking your content

The number one top offending SEO technique, according to both SEO software firm SEOmoz factors and Google's own guidelines, is to design your website so that search engines see one thing while human visitors see another. This is commonly called 'cloaking', and it's generally considered the dirtiest trick there is.

Car maker BMW kindly provided a vivid illustration of this technique a few years back, as well as what happens to those who try it. Specifically, it was discovered that BMW's German website was using what are called 'doorway pages', or text-heavy pages sprinkled with select keywords, to attract the attention of Google's indexing system. The particular search term it focused on was 'used cars'.

So, when users searching for 'used cars' found the BMW site at the top of Google's rankings, they were naturally tempted to click on it. What happened then, however, was that a JavaScript redirect would send them directly to BMW's main page, on which used vehicles featured minimally if at all.

BMW's reward for its cloaking efforts? Google unceremoniously kicked the BMW site out of its index, as Google engineer Matt Cutts explained in a blog from 2006.

2. Acquiring links from brokers, sellers or exchanges

The second worst dirty trick, according to SEOmoz, as well as one apparently employed by DecorMyEyes, is to pay a link broker or participate in other link schemes so as to get numerous links to your site from all across the web. The reason this trick is tempting is that Google's page ranking system factors in the number of links pointing to a page when it tries to evaluate that page's importance. It's also tempting because it can work well- at least in the short term.

Why shouldn't you use it? Well, mostly because it's in direct violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines, and it can get you severely punished. If you participate in a link exchange program - whereby you link to a spam site in exchange for their links to you - the outbound links you install are also another factor that will negatively affect your rankings.

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