Getting to number one on Google... Thats what you want for your site, or your clients site... your friends site, right? My bet is over 90% of you say "YES!" and with good reason. Lets face it being number one on google is a big advantage... it drives traffic to your site, right? Wrong! - well mainly you are wrong... being number one on google is fairly easy... for alot of terms! (but that won't drive any significant traffic to your sites) Being number one on google for higher ranking phrases and words is not so easy. It is these phrases that will will drive traffic to your site.
Now there are any number of Search Engine Optimisation / Marketing companies that claim
We can get your site to the top of Google
But can they really? is what they offer worth the money they ask, or even the time you give them? In most cases it isn't, and heres the reason why...
Search Engines are only intterested in a single thing... Relevancy of Information
Its Simple! If your content isn't relevant ... the search engines will ignore you and so will the users of the internet.
Now of course you can "trick" Google, Bing (formerly MSN Live), Yahoo and other search engines, but in 99.99% of cases these will break the terms of service which these search engines set out for webmasters. Any gain you make from these techniques will be short lived. All search engines will see when they are being "played" by a website (or series of) and are always working to close the loop holes. However these "Black Hat" secrets will mean your site get punished and even banned by the search engines, oh and penalties aren't always just on a single domain - so beware of black hat technique based companies!
Avoiding the Black Hat Companies
Now there is a lot of advice aorund, so i've shortlisted my top 5 Tips on how to avoid the companies that use these "illegal" techniques.
Be Sceptical of any company that "gaurentees" a particular position on a search engine, Always ask questions about how this will be achieved and make sure the gaurentee is for your most competitive term(s)... but most of all if at any time they mention using a "secret" technique walk away... take some time to think and ask more questions (consult with another SEO, my email inbox is always open). also find out what happens if they don't meet the gaurentee.
Avoid any company which contacts you "out of the blue" ... generally if a company has to do this they don't have enough clients to fill the day ... if they are worth anything they will always be busy and be hiring in accordance with this. The best way to find an SEO company is by word of mouth and/or by reading about their experience (such as this blog).
Ask for a broken down qoute - only if the company is hidding something will they say no - if they say no walk away.
Search for the company on Google see where they appear... for the domain they use... my bet is if they are black hat they probably wont appear.
If the company claims to "automatically" submit sites to XX search engines ... immediately walk away... automatic submission breaks TOS.
So with that cleared up... Lets look at things you really shouldn't be doing on your site...
Avoid These Black Hat Techniques and Get to Number One
Now this list isn't exhaustive not by any means but it is rather a quick guide to things you should avoid.
Keyword Stuffing - Generally used in combination with the above. This technique is the “art” of cramming as many keywords as possible in your content… be this text or images (the alt attribute). This really doesn’t work not only will the search engines notice immediately but it will lead to a VERY bad user experiece, driving users away from your site.
Duplicate Content - This isn't to say don't ellaborate on your own content, or another persons...rather simply to say don't copy it word for word...or anything like this. Think about it... rankings are given by comparing sites... so if a search engine see's duplicate websites/website content they will query this, if found guilty expect a penalty. (This also means no repeat pages ... so no seperate print only pages).
Automatic Submission - As states before this is against most search engines TOS, don't use a machine to submit websites... plus the chances are most the engines you submit to will be the same search engine directory.
Fake Link Building - Another popular Black hat technique where the Black Hatter will build thousands of back links to your site using various techniques, quite often this can be seen using Googles "link:" query too to view the links, if a site is relatively new but has thousands of back links then there is a chance it will be a from Black Hat techniques. Common techniques include: Comment Spamming of blogs, Forum Spamming, Link Farms/Exchanges.
Ok so using these techniques can be profitable until your caught...and you will be caught normally in hours... and therefore it is the black hatters whom are making money here not you! Don't get tarnished with the same brush RICOH and BMW did in 2006 - they used cloacking and duplicate content - they recieved a full ban!... a few weeks later they had removed these techniques and the ban was lifted (somewhat contriversial move by google to relist with old rankings though). This is the first in a series of Articles about "getting to number one on google" - today we have focused on what not to do... next time we look at enhancing your website and its rankings, then we will move onto PPC and other off-site techniques.
If You have ANY questions please leave them below and I will be happy to answer them for you.
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