It is very frustrating to see your competitors spamming Google and getting away with it. It happens. I've seen many niches where the best ranking sites blatantly disregard Google's webmaster guidelines. However, just because everybody else is getting away with it, it isn't a good idea to spam Google too.
If other sites are ranking with spammy techniques, it just means that Google hasn't cracked down on it yet. Google almost always takes action to address spam in their index eventually. When Google does so, it may completely upend the search results for a niche, demoting all the top sites at the same time.
I've seen this time and time again.
- 2011 - Google's Panda algorithm demotes sites with many pages of thin content.
- 2012 - Google's Penguin algorithm demotes sites with spammy and paid links.
- 2017 - Google demotes spammy exact match domains.
- 2018 - Google demotes sites with medical advice not written by doctors.
Unfortunately it may take years for Google to get around to addressing the spam in your niche, but when it does you don't want your site to be one of the ones demoted.
This article was written as part of a series about SEO myths.