If someone makes you an offer that’s too good to be true, then the chances are it is. That applies in every walk of life. It’s particularly true of search engine optimisation. It doesn’t really matter what your line of business is, if you own a website then there’s a good chance that some unscrupulous SEO practitioners will try to convince you that they can get your website to the top of the search engine rankings with just a few simple tweaks. Obviously they’ll assure you that it’s all above board, but the truth of the matter is, it won’t be. They’ll employ one of a number of black hat techniques and that’s just asking for trouble. Sure, you might see an initial growth in the popularity of your website: you might even get a few conversions off the back of this. But, trust me – it won’t last. As soon as Google’s algorithm gets a sniff that’s something unsavoury is going on, then your website will be toast. So, if you are approached by one of these ‘get rich quick’ peddlers, is there anything you should be looking out for? Are there any tell-tale signs that something’s wrong?
If you have a particular fondness for a keyword and it’s relevant to your business, then it’s pretty obvious you’ll want to use it on your website, particularly if you want to rank highly for it. Giving a keyword prominence on your site is one thing: stuffing it everywhere and anywhere is another. Less, I’m afraid, is more. It’s fine to use your keyword frequently if it’s relevant and called for, but not to use it just for the sake of doing so. It won’t fool Google and Bing. In fact it will probably get you into hot water. Not forgetting of course that it’s a complete turn off for your visitors to see a certain word or phrase repeated ad infinitum, just because it might make you rank higher. It’s not big and it’s certainly not clever – so avoid at all costs.
Some of the more-savvy website owners and SEO practitioners realise that keyword stuffing doesn’t work. They also know that it makes for poor content and will discourage viewers. But, they realise they need these words if they’re to stand any chance of ranking at all. So they hide them out of sight. They’re still there of course: it’s just that you can’t see them. Sometimes they do this by making these words and phrases the same colour as the background so that they disappear. On other occasions they’ll carry on producing keyword-stuffed pages, but only submit them to the search engines. Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there. Needless to say, search engines take a poor view of this, so it’s best avoided.
Everybody knows that links are an essential tool for achieving good search engine results. The more quality links you have with good sites linking back to yours, the better you’ll fare. The problem is there’s no quick fix for this. If you want quality links, then you have to build them organically. That means it takes time. Some people will try to convince you it’s easier to buy these links from companies prepared to sell. You might even have received emails from them offering this ‘service’. Links are generated because people like your website and the content you produce. Don’t buy backlinks. They don’t work and Google and Bing will soon pick them up. If you do buy links and the search engines find out, then the only way your rankings will go is downwards.
Spammed Meta data
Meta information is one of the many ways in which you can tell the search engines what your website is about. Most of it can’t be seen by users, but includes things like titles and descriptions of pages. Sharp SEO practitioners have spotted that this is yet another area to exploit. They do it by stuffing Meta’ tags and titles with keywords; hoping that it will help their rankings for those phrases. It might not affect the user experience much, but the search engines still regard it as cheating.
Content, to quote the much-maligned phrase, is ‘king’. It might be a bit of a cliché now, but it still holds true. People love to read vibrant, fresh and relevant content. So, too, do the search engines, or at least those who monitor for them. If you constantly update your website with fresh content, the chances are your ranking will improve. A common trick amongst some SEO practitioners is to re-publish the same article over and over again on different directories. This too should be avoided at all costs. It might work initially, but the search engines are hot on the heels of this one, and come down like a ton of bricks on duplicated content.
So, if you’re offered a quick fix solution for your SEO, I’d avoid it like the plague. Search engines are now at war with black hat technicians and are constantly finding new ways to weed them out. A business is a priceless asset and should be treated with respect. Don’t try to dupe Google, because it’ll find you out in the end. When it does, your rankings will plummet: you might even be de-listed like JC Penney. If that happens, the consequences for your precious business could be catastrophic.