SEO company scams can destroy your Google reputation, & cost a bundle.
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SEO Scams

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When searching for a competent and effective SEO company to help you move your website up through Google's search results, there are some "tricks of the trade" - or SEO scams - you need to be aware of so you can avoid shonky operators - or at least ones who may in the long term harm your Google reputation.

I've performed many website audits over the past few years, and some of the tactics used by other optimisers, not just around the world, but here in Sydney as well, range from blatantly shonky SEO practices, to skirting around domain name registration eligibility rules.

Your aim should be SUSTAINABLE search engine results - not ones which rely on external or off site measures, which may in time be disregarded by Google by a simple change to their algorithms, or even a report to their Web Spam Department.

Google themselves say the ways to achieve search engine results are good website construction, and good, relevant content (web page copy, images, video etc.):
1) making great content that will attract links in the first place, and
2) choosing a site architecture that makes your site user friendly - for humans AND search engines alike.
Some of the tactics used which I strongly urge you to avoid are explained below.



Link spamming

Some search engine optimisation companies barely even look at your website, but simply link a whole lot of websites back to your site. Yes, this will or can work, and I've seen it make very, very average websites get some great results. But this is NOT what Google wants to see, and it is NOT sustainable. You are relying upon those links remaining live for one, and you are also gambling that Google will not introduce an algorithm update which will lessen the impact of non-relevant websites linking back to yours.

Blog spamming

If you have a blog, or even read a blog, you probably know what this is. Usually it's done using an automated program which seeks out blogs with comment areas, and just uploads a whole bunch of crap (usually) which is neither relevant nor helpful, and in turn links back to your website. I've seen one business owner who markets promotional banners having multiple links going back to his website using keywords such as "Digital Camera", from a website all about flowers. Blog spam is indiscriminate spamming just for the sake of getting a link back - ANY link!

Gateway pages (often referred to as Doorway pages)

A gateway page is usually a small, often one page website with a relevant domain name which is highly optimised. The gateway page is promoted to search engines, and it then leads to the main website.

For example, a fellow ethical search engine optimiser has told me about one Sydney SEO specialist (I use the term loosely) who tends to use this tactic quite a bit. This operator at one stage went to the trouble of registering a .org.au domain name (against auDA eligibility rules), then pointed all the links to one of their clients' websites. The domain name used (he was not eligible to own it in the first place) made it look like an organisation or association, which was bad enough, but all the buttons linked straight through to another, commercial .com.au website.

This tactic worked very well - until auDA (I assume) ordered de-registration of the domain name. As a result, the client's search engine results suffered dramatically.

Unauthorised website insertions

Be very careful of any SEO companies who add content or pages to your website without your authorisation. For example, I've had several callers complain to me about SEO companies adding a page full of links back to their other clients. After looking closer, this seems to be a pattern. EG, one accommodation website I looked at had links back to plumbers, roof restorers, office furniture and about 30 other irrelevant websites. All I'm saying is ALWAYS be aware of what is going into YOUR website! Is this a scam? Well, I guess that depends. Is it ethical? I wouldn't do it. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't even ask a client "Hey, can I place a page in your website linking back to all my clients?" - probably why (from what I've been told) people WEREN'T asked!

Contracts and Guarantees

There is no such thing as a guaranteed seo result - seriously. Google tells us that if an SEO company guarantees you a particular result (eg, gems like "put yourself on page one", or "get your website into the top three results"), run the other way. Find someone who can not only talk the talk, but walk the walk - in other words, they sound knowledgeable, can show real life examples, and do not try and sell you a long, expensive package. Google's own words:
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google. There is no priority submit for Google.
Speaking of which, be very wary of those contracts which say "if we do not get xx result for you after xx time period, we will work for you for nothing!" If you can't see through that one, maybe you should consult with a contract lawyer.

SEO Company Scams - Summary

The tactics described above are just pure LAZINESS & ignorance of Google's guidelines - there are NO shortcuts to effective SEO. If the search engine optimisation specialist you speak with DOES NOT comment about your website in your first conversation, advise you how you can improve it, and actually make sense, MOVE ON!

From the many people who call and email me about SEO services, I have not seen ONE website yet which does not have room for improvement, whether it be the relevance of page copy, the amount of copy, site construction, too many redirects, broken links, and a multitude of other factors which all go into the mix to make your site "Google friendly".

Another thing you should be on the lookout for is actual results achieved for clients by the optimiser, as well as how their own website ranks. Oh, and I don't just mean easy stuff like (eg) "wedding designer Ultimo" - for a start, few if any would search for that phrase. Get them to show you results for something which would be obviously searched for quite a bit - like simply "wedding designer".

Check out what their current (or previous) clients say about them, and if they sound genuine. Ethical and sustainable SEO is about working towards a long term goal, complying with Google's guidelines, and creating content rich websites.

If you would like more information about ethical and sustainable search engine optimisation, please contact me.

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Rob - JustWeb

11.02.2011


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