There are a lot of tips out there online about search engine optimization and the methods you can put to use to rank higher in the Google/Bing/Yahoo SERPs. You can find some of the same type of posts on our blog here as well. You’ll find discussion of white hat techniques, black hat techniques, the common steps known as well as some of the not so obvious ones.
What you don’t find very often however, are posts about what not to do, or what to look out for when you’re looking at contracting a company to perform SEO on your website. While the search engines are somewhat flexible in what you’re allowed to do, there are most definately some tricks which can get you black marked, all the way to completely kicked from the SERPs.
So, when you’re looking for a company to perform optimization on your site, keep your ears open for any of the below terms. If there is mention of using any of these practices, it’s time to run for the hills.
Using Cloaked content
This is one of the most common, and most likely to get your company banned, practices out there. For the most part, when you create content for your site you’re telling the search engines what your site is for. Google/Bing/Yahoo then lists the website under the titles and keywords that is found in that content. Cloaking content is when a company shows Google content, and then shows viewers different content such as ads or links to malware infected sites. This is what is cloaking and will get a site removed from Google in very short order.
A lot of blogs talk about how the meta data for keywords and description are defunct, but Google often looks to these as indicators of keywords that make up a site. For example a site about water softeners will often contain content relevant to that industry. Some companies, however, try to gain new content by what is known as “keyword stuffing”. Mainly this involves hiding keywords with single pixel sized font or camouflaging text the same as the background color to try and get listed more often, for more terms. It may seem to work short term, but it will get a site removed from the SERPs.
Duplicate content Websites
Some novice SEOs and SEO companies try to increase rankings by putting the exact same content on different pages on multiple sites. Typically they also use a scraper tool to gather quality content from websites for their own. Search engines have gotten adept at catching this and will happily penalize, a website that has too much duplicate content.
Auto Generating Content
Another poor technique is to use a program to write content for your website. This is exactly as it sounds, taking one article and then having a program rewrite the article by changing a few sentences and keywords over and over again.
Those are only a few of the terms you need to be aware of when speaking with an SEO company. Absolutely stressing the point that if any of the above techniques are mentioned as a tool they use, avoid them at all costs. There is no shortcut to success in online marketing, real SEO takes time and the more time and effort you can put into it, the bigger return on investment you can expect.
If business owners want to gain a competitive edge online in 2009, a comprehensive strategy is the way to go.
Businesses of any size will succeed with online marketing – and blow past the competition – by focusing on multiple fronts at one time to deliver the most favorable ROI.
The Internet offers a dizzyingly array of services, everything from search engine optimization and link building to paid search, banner advertising and video marketing. Each has merit and can improve profits.
How could it make any sense to let them operate as silos?
We tie these and other services together in what we call the Battle Plan. To get the best results, you need to hit your target market with everything you have available.
Regardless of what you call it, a Battle Plan approach requires a good deal of coordination that can become a way of life with practice.
Here are 8 tips to help you get started:
1. Cultivate Teams.
A plan on paper won’t work in reality if the people involved can’t cooperate. Long before our Battle Plan took shape, we made sure to involve the entire staff in team building exercises, contests and social outings. We also have regular staff meetings and hold internal mini workshops so each service line can let everyone else get a sense of what they do.
2. Nail Down Processes.
Yes, it can be tedious, but only good things can happen when everyone follows the same system.
3. Achieve Excellence.
It’s not always easy to define quality, but you need to continually provide exceptional service in each area. Our Battle Plan would suffer enormously if one service dropped the ball. In the military, for example, ground troops would fail more often without air support.
4. Think ROI.
At the end of the day, it’s about leads and sales. Time and time again, we’ve managed through SEO to achieve high rankings and traffic. Unfortunately, the website we inherit sometimes lacks clear Calls to Action. Adding a well placed, unique phone number or a special offer can work wonders.
5. Track and Adapt Conversion Opportunities.
Calls to Action can appear just about anywhere. With the basic website design, you may have any number of response forms or buy/call signals. Similar or different ones may be developed for paid search or video marketing campaigns. In our case, we learn from what each area is doing and adapt or repeat their Calls to Action. In other words, lead forms that work for video may perform as well or better in paid search.
6. A Central Project Manager Is Essential.
Obviously, plenty of work must happen behind the scenes. Yet, it’s also critical to have a project manager in place for each program to keep the lines of communication open. The project manager is in a good position to make sure everyone – from internal staff to clients – is on the same page and up to speed.
7. Share Data.
I’ve hinted at it already, but shared information is paramount to a comprehensive approach that crosses multiple disciplines. For example, when a SEO specialist gets a top ranking on Google, that information must get in the hands of a paid search expert who can help decide if an ad should be paused or continued depending on whether branding or conversion objectives are being met. You can exchange data from many areas – paid search ads, landing pages, banner ads, meta descriptions, inbound link anchor text, video marketing campaigns and much more.
8. Reinforce Efforts.
You have to find ways to stay in touch with prospects. For us, one of the easiest is an opt-in e-mail marketing system. I’m dumbfounded by the number of companies that I hear about that don’t consistently use structured emails to follow up with different types of leads. Sometimes businesses do send emails, but it’s not always well planned. Why not craft automated messages for designated dates, such as 7 days, 30 days and 60 days out from the first point of contact?
In today’s economy, at the moment in time someone is searching for what you offer, how fiercely are you competing to be found?