How to tell the difference between Good, Bad, and downright Dangerous.
We sometimes have clients contacting us in desperation when it comes to SEO – either because they have no idea who to trust, or worse, because they’ve been ripped off by what’s know as ‘black hat’ SEO fly-by-nighters. Black hat means they are the ‘dodgy brothers’ of the SEO game and best avoided.
But how do you know who’s honest Joe? And who’s going not only rip you off, but may also get your site black banned on Google, or worse, destroy your good name and leave your online reputation in tatters?
Let’s start with how to recognize the bad guys… the ‘black hats’…
How do you know if an SEO Company is ‘Black Hat’? They will try to out-smart Google by various unethical and ‘illegal’ tricks, they…
- Send you email ‘spam’ out of the blue. Actually I never trust anyone that sends me spam – of any kind. Spam is evil, and spam must die. It usually reads like this:
- Won’t explain what they do – usually because they’re using illegal techniques that could get you blacklisted from Google results pages altogether. And being blacklisted from Google is bad – your site won’t show up even for your business name or URL address. The only solution being to get a new domain and website, and start all over again.
- Will promise to register you on “1,000’s of search engines” – so what? Google has almost 90% market share, so why bother?
- Will promise you ‘thousands’ of links to your site, often on poor quality sites known as ‘link farms’. These are the sites that you stumble upon that are just full of links and nothing else, these sites are known as search engine spam. Google is savvy to these sites and if you have a link on one of them, your ranking may actually suffer.
- Use ‘blog spamming’ – this means to create links by various ‘spamming’ techniques like posting your domain name to hundreds of blogs comments fields. This makes your business look REALLY BAD, and will kill your online reputation. Imagine if you had to try to clean up hundreds of spam links to your website? Where would you start? You’d be better off starting all over again with a new site. Read last month’s case study of one of our clients who had this happen to them.
- Guarantee you a number #1 organic ranking on Google, by either claiming to have ‘cracked the Google code’ or that they have some kind of ‘special relationship’ with Google. No one can truly promise you a #1 ranking because the Google algorithm is top secret, and only a handful of people actually know it. Want to know more about how Googlebot works? Check out this article on Wikipedia.
Okay, so what about the good guys? (AKA the ‘white hats’… )
A ‘white hat’ SEO plays by the rules. And they should be able to…
- Show you examples of their previous work & success stories: They should have some real-world examples to show you wherein they have improved a site’s Google ranking, and also show that this has had a positive runoff in terms of real-world sales conversions. That is, their efforts have directly improved the client’s bottom line.
- Show you real client testimonials… from real people, not made up ones!
- Display honesty and transparency – explain exactly what they do, and how it affects site rankings.
- The proof is in the pudding – their own site should rank well for top keywords and exemplify their efforts and SEO skills.
- Keep up to date with the latest developments in SEO, e.g. how Twitter or Facebook might improve your SEO efforts.
- Play by the rules and follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines: If they play fair everyone wins out in the end. Read the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Want to know more? Contact Meri Harli, SEO and Social Media Specialist, on 0408 369935, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.