SEO Sketchy-Oh!

(Part Two of a Series on SEO)

With SEO being the best ROI out there, it’s no wonder so many SEO services have popped up in recent years. We have, for a long time, been on a hunt for a reliable SEO partner.

However, to date, we have yet to find one that we haven’t found to be a bit “sketchy”. Without getting into too much trouble for stereotyping, the field seems filled with “slick” business guys trying to make a quick buck. Not really the type you want to throw a bunch of money at. And in some ways, this “sketchiness” really does make some sense…after all a process that involves playing a lot of tricks tends to attract tricksters.

It is true that SEM (SEO and PPC combined) have the highest ROI of all marketing activities. But that assessment might be a bit disingenuous. A lot of SEO is what they call, “black hat SEO”. These are SEO activities that are usually quite successful but considered somewhat unethical or inauthentic. Usually these are achieved through tricking the web crawlers, breaking the rules of the search engines, breaking down the usability of a site just for higher rankings, or most commonly, creating fake links.

These services using ‘black hat’ techniques increase attention to your site by going out and making it look like your site is really popular. For example, they may go and create a bunch of fake blog accounts and link to your site from those. Now, search engines aren’t as stupid as you might think. That little trick tends to work for a while, but since no one is actually reading those blogs, sooner or later the search engines figure out those links aren’t really all that important. Because of this you have to keep paying those SEO folks quite a significant amount of money to keep up the noise.

It’s one of the many tricks out there that SEO people often utilize to get the search engines to rank you higher and give you more attention. We continue to feel that this approach is not totally above board. In fact, it is no wonder that SEO gets a lot of immediate attention – but it’s not always the type of attention you want.

Let me make an analogy. Black hat SEO success is like a person going out into the middle of the street, wearing a sandwich board and screaming about your business. If you are a new restaurant in town, this might get you a lot of attention that you hadn’t had before. Before long, however, people are just going to become annoyed and stop paying attention. It might be a better long term strategy to actually get people to respect your business – maybe provide a nice façade to the restaurant that people would notice as they walked past.

A better way to spend your time and money might be to actually build a real marketing strategy with long term plans that include online attention for your site. Sending out press releases, building relationships with respected authorities in the field, building a community of followers who actually like your product is a much better approach for long term success.

We definitely recommend formulating an honest plan that actually builds genuine organic buzz rather than just an artificial hype by attempting to trick search engines.

We will be finishing this SEO series with a Do-It-Yourself SEO guide to help you utilize your own resources to configure your own SEO.