As a 22-year old digital marketing and SEO firm, Crescent Leaf has been around the proverbial Internet marketing block. The past two decades have not only shown a huge boost in demand for services that help businesses attain prominent rankings in Google, it also paved the way for SEO “snake-oil” offerings that lure the unsuspecting with attractive headlines like:
Get onto page 1 of Google in a week!
We’ll submit your website to thousands of web directories and search engines!
Establish hundreds of back-links to your website! Get seen!
We have a special relationship with Google! Let us leverage that on your behalf!
Needless to say, the influx of SEO scammers has done nothing to help the SEO industry’s reputation.
Why it’s Critical that you Avoid SEO Scams for your Business or Organization
A sizable number of our SEO clients have previously fallen prey to these schemes and techniques, commonly known as Black Hat SEO. Some clients fell victim simply due to a lack of general understanding of what legitimate SEO (White Hat SEO) requires. As a result, they adopted strategies of trying a large number of promising Black Hat SEO solutions in hopes that some would produce positive results and increased traffic.
These techniques posed severe limitations on their website’s ability to rank prominently in search engines. In some cases, it resulted in the website being completely banned from Google.
It is important, as a marketing director or owner of a business, to be cognizant of these potential risks of Black Hat SEO, and to avoid using a SEO company or consultant that employs these tactics.
Be alert for the following warning signs:
1. The SEO consultant’s strategy does not address your website, content, and potential revisions to both
First and foremost, SEO begins with research of your industry, analysis of your existing website, and examination of the competitive environment for your services (or products) in search engines. This research will translate to on-page changes to your website. The foundation of your SEO strategy will inevitably include optimization of your website’s information architecture, physical page structure, programming structure, proper tagging of a wide variety of on-page elements, link structure, page URL convention, image handling, page titles, headlines, sub-headers, and the actual content on all site pages.
A SEO consultant suggesting that they can perform SEO without research and without addressing the basic foundation of your online presence (your website) should raise serious concerns about their intent.
2. You’ll rank #1 in Google!
The promise of ranking in position #1 in Google, or on the first page, is not a promise that any reputable SEO consultant can ever make. It’s especially not a projection that can be made without first analyzing the particular search terms you’d like to be ranked under, the competitive nature of the environment in search engines under those search terms, your website and content structure, and your current content production strategies.
If the SEO consultant’s literature or marketing spiel blindly promises first page ranking in Google, beware!
3. Your site will be submitted to tons of directories, search engines, and you’ll get back-links galore
While back-links (third-party website links to your website) do have a place in SEO strategy when performed properly, mass submission of your website to directories and search engines is considered a Black Hat SEO approach.
Many SEO generations ago, the prospect of having your website listed on a number of irrelevant websites would have had a noticeable impact on a website’s ranking. This technique, referred to as “link farming”, is now heavily penalized by Google and other search engines.
Instead, Google now applauds topic relevancy in your outbound and inbound link structure. If your business is a healthcare software provider, inbound links from a car forum, or from a link farm full of unrelated websites, will only serve to penalize your prospect of ranking well under ideal search terms. The key to back-links is quality and relevancy over quantity.
If a SEO consultant suggests submission to a gazillion directories and sites, exit the building! It’s possible that this technique will give you an immediate boost. But, once Google analyzes the nature of these links, your site will suffer a penalty – or possibly even get canned from the index entirely.
4. They cite a partnership with a search engine – or some proprietary software that expedites search engine ranking
We have received many cold calls from “SEO Consultants” over the years with scammers suggesting that they are former employees of Google who now possess all the secrets of the algorithm. It shocks us that many also pitch that they’ve broken the Google algorithm with proprietary software.
There is no magical “in” with Google. Google is not a middle-school student dishing out preferential treatment to a desirable popular few. Any suggestion that a SEO consultant’s cracking of a search algorithm could be leveraged for improved ranking is likely an invitation to perform Black Hat SEO techniques which will only negatively impact your ability to rank.
So, what makes a good SEO company?
A good SEO consultant will not propose any Black Hat SEO techniques or back-door solutions that promise a front page ranking. A legitimate SEO consultant will be more interested in understanding the nature of your industry, target audience, website structure, and content strategy before they offer a SEO strategy.
If you’re considering a SEO company, ask for references before you engage in work together. Talk to business owners who have worked with the SEO company to understand how their challenges were addressed and the effectiveness of their solutions.
Proper SEO is a deliberate and consistent effort that requires constant attention and a coherent content strategy. A quality SEO consultant will make the effort to research your specific circumstance and clearly outline an attainable path forward. This almost always includes improving the physical foundation of your current web site and a focus on strategic content creation that produces quality content that is beneficial to your target audience. A bad SEO company will try to convince you that they possess secret techniques that will circumvent this basic requirement.
Lastly, it’s worthwhile gaining at least a basic understanding of SEO. Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is an excellent place get a general grasp of the discipline involved with proper SEO. You’ll be armed with a realistic sense of what’s involved with SEO. You’ll also be better able to more productively interface with your SEO consultant.
If you’re ready to take the rewarding path toward realizing the rewards that come from a legitimate and comprehensive SEO strategy, we welcome the opportunity to discuss your project and provide a plan for moving forward. Contact us today at: firstname.lastname@example.org.