Every business wants to generate revenue and receive a good return on investment, but many businesses are in too much of a rush to do so and want to see results yesterday. For companies with a website, this often means turning to black hat search engine optimisation companies (or techniques) in order to get their site to the top of Google within a short time frame. But cheaters never prosper and black hat SEO techniques are just a quick fix which will lead to long term misery.
As an ethical (white hat) SEO agency, we've always been keen to emphasise the importance of doing things the rightway. And now Google is starting to clamp down on 'overly SEO'd' sites, black hat websites and rewarding high-quality sites instead.
But this is not a new thing. Google has always emphasised the importance of good content and a good user experience and not 'gaming' the system to get ahead. They're constantly developing and changing their search algorithms to counter black hat tactics and return the best results for the user. Having said that, these most recent updates have seen many sites suffering – so much so that many business owners have signed the petition to beg Google to kill the penguin update.
What Shouldn't You Be Doing?
Google have said in their article about the Penguin update that:
In the pursuit of higher rankings or traffic, a few sites use techniques that don't benefit users, where the intent is to look for shortcuts or loopholes that would rank pages higher than they deserve to be ranked. We see all sorts of webspam techniques every day, from keyword stuffing to link schemes that attempt to propel sites higher in rankings.
So the question is what shouldn't you be doing? Many of the things that should be avoided have been the same for years and times do change, so different things have different values over time, but there are some things which should be avoided at all costs.
- Buying links – services that offer you 000's of links for a certain amount of money should be avoided at all costs. Automated link building programs, comment spam, reciprocal link building and link farms are all examples of link building techniques which will haunt you.
- Keyword stuffing – it's hard to believe this still happens, but the practice of keyword stuffing involves filling a webpage with keywords relevant (and valuable) to the business in an effort to manipulate the rankings. Years ago, this practice included using website design styles to hide paragraphs of keyword stuffed text from the user but leave it visible to the search engine spiders – but this is something the search engines quickly wised up to.
- Article spinning – posting the same content all over the web, spinning for links with articles that are often poorly written or make no sense at all.
- Duplicate or plagiarised content – if your website contains several pages with the same content, then your site will just look spammy to the search engines and you risk it being devalued. Similarly, stealing content from Wikipedia won't do you any favours. On a less underhanded matter, as an ecommerce website, if all the products you sell have their description copied straight from the manufacturer's site (and your competitors are doing the same) what will make you stand out from the rest? Google's Panda update came down heavy on sites with duplicate content and many suffered greatly because of simple laziness.
- Framed sites, cloaking and dodgy domains – it's surprising the lengths people will go to for a higher ranking on Google. Buying a keyword relevant domain then duplicating your website on it will not help you; it may even harm your rankings. Similarly doing anything with the code to trick the search engine bots and 'game' the system is a risky business and might come back to bite you in the future.
More of the sorts of things you should avoid can be seen in Google's quality guidelines.
What You Should Be Doing With Your Site
So now you know what you shouldn't be doing with your website, but what should you do to get the best return on your investment?
If you're looking for short-term results then you need to turn to Pay Per Click Advertising, not black hat SEO techniques. Otherwise the focus should be on white hat SEO which focuses on the user and site content, not on cutting corners.
As an ethical SEO agency, we can give you the advice and support you need to get the best results from your website, now and for years to come. With us, you can trust that you won't lose your rankings because of bad SEO practices which Google might clamp down on in the future because we're passionate about your business and we know our stuff.