First, what on earth do we mean by ‘the binary options industry?’ It’s a financial term that describes a situation that has (a) some sort of financial payoff or (b) no return at all. The binary options industry has proven to be a ripe proving ground for spammers keen to make fast money – despite Google’s best attempts to shut down black hat SEO practices.
Google Penguin versus the binary options industry
Google’s Penguin update on 24th April 2012 was designed to lower the rankings of websites using spam techniques that violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
However, rather than deter black hat SEO gurus from spamming Google, a new form of short-term spam emerged, which led to lower-quality SERPs than before the update.
The Penguin update did two things:
- First of all, it removed long-term websites engaged in link purchasing from their search results.
- It opened the door for short-term, black hat SEOs to swoop in with their hacked sites, 301 redirects and one-page web2.0 sites to rank for high-value keywords in the interim.
Analysing the results in the binary options industry
The nascent rise of the binary options industry is the perfect market for spam sites with a high turnover. With CPAs reaching up to $300 per customer, hundreds of black hat SEOs, or “rankers” as I call them, have flocked to this industry in the hope of quick rewards and fake G+ author profiles.
While the majority of spam sites seem to lose their rankings after 2-3 weeks, the low price of registering a domain combined with the scalability or spammy link-building techniques means this presents more than enough time scale for spammers to make a large profit.
After speaking to the Marketing Director of a well-known operator, in the binary options industry, one of their spam sites ranking on the first page of Google (with a fake Google Plus profile, of course) was earning more than $5,000 in revenues per week.
Unfortunately, even if Google catches these spam sites after 2-3 weeks, it makes no sizeable improvement to the search engine results: new spam sites simply replace them. By the time Google’s algorithm catches up, two new spam sites have replaced it.
The value of ranking on the first page for competitive terms, combined with the low cost of registering a domain for $10 (or even setting up a web 2.0 site for free) means black hat webmasters can generate spam sites in an endless loop, while other white hat sites are left in their midst.
What sites should or deserve to rank on page 1?
Of course, it’s entirely subjective to ask which sites deserve to be seen by users on the first page of Google’s search results. In my opinion, I’d argue that the industry’s biggest and oldest forum (BinaryOptionsDaily.com), the oldest binary options news site (BinaryOptionStrategy.com), the biggest binary options strategy site (BinaryOptions.com) and the world’s first and only US-regulated binary options operator (Nadex.com) should be present on the first page.
On another search for “binary options strategies”, this thin web2.0 blog ranks in the first position, well above the BinaryOptions.com Strategies page, which contains a table of links to 35 advanced strategies with thousands of words of unique content, images and charts.
How can an SEO agency and consultant handle clients in the binary options industry?
The biggest problem for an SEO consultant working in the binary options industry, or any other industry filled with spam, is how to explain to his/her client why all of these spam sites rank above their own clients’ sites.
This is an almost impossible task for most agencies – unless your client is willing to sit through a three-hour lecture on why these other sites can spam and rank in Google, but you can’t. Ultimately, it just makes you sound like you don’t know what you’re doing. Furthermore, white hat campaigns take longer to see rewards than black hat, thus by the time your client actually sees results with his site you could be sacked.
Matt Cutts recently suggested submitting spam reports to Google’s website here. Unfortunately, this comprises a full-time job for white hat SEOs working in the binary options industry. Furthermore, it doesn’t lead to a quick takedown of spam sites.
I hate to say it, but what Google really needs is deeper regulation for heavily spammed industries – or at least to make sure what they tell webmasters to do actually works. Improve the algorithms to stop one-page blogs, thin affiliate landing pages and web 2.0 sites from clogging the user experience.
At the end of the day, clients don’t care about white hat vs. black hat or Penguin updates and Pandas. All they want are measurable results in order to see if the service you’re providing is worthwhile. In an industry like binary options, this seems all but impossible.