10. February 2011 14:06
I was shocked today when a guy I know who is an SEO analyst sent me a link to the PHP bug tracker (http://bugs.php.net) asking what I knew about it. At first I wondered why he was interested, I know he knows a bit of PHP, enough to get WordPress up and running and change a bit of HTML around to "optimize" it for SEO, but I couldn't imagine him having found an actual bug that would warrant him submitting a ticket on the bug tracker so I enquired for why he was interested. His reply both amazed and appalled me...
He said he had seen some evidence of bug trackers being used for SEO purposes, that bugs were filed, complete with bogus code samples and links back to an original issue which was in fact a site being promoted through this (very black-hat) SEO method.
When questioned about if he was thinking of employing such a deplorable tactic he said he might have to if "the competition" began using it to any benefit. I promptly told him it was a terrible subversion of an important part of a software community such as PHP and that he ought to be ashamed for even entertaining the idea, and that it was tactics like this that gets SEO a bad name.
I guess this rings doubly as loud as I'm a software developer myself and for someone to use an invaluable tool such as a bug tracker for their own capital purposes, especially within an industry such as SEO which is renowned for it's lack of morals. Then again, I can't say I'm entirely surprised.
I worry that by publicising this here I might help spread the word of this deplorable practice, however, if one developer who runs a bug tracker and starts seeing loads of bugs spammy bugs can be forewarned I would feel justified in my post.