SEO providers who can get you in trouble with Google and other major search engines aren’t that difficult to recognise if you know the basics of search engine optimisation and how the search engines work. Listed below are 5 most obvious signs of trouble. You are highly recommended to politely say no if the provider:
Guarantees the #1 position on Google. As good as it may sound, no one can guarantee the #1 position on Google or other major search engines. You may or may not be ranked first after the campaign; where you will end up depends on several factors including competition. If the competition is tough, you will perhaps have to satisfy yourself with the position #1 only on the second page of search engine results pages (SERP).
Promises to improve your SERP ranking in a mater of days. Many websites need months or even years to achieve a significant “jump” in SERP. This doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to achieve faster results but rather than how soon you will see improvement in SERP ranking, you should ask yourself whether the results will last. Obviously, you won’t benefit from SEO service if your website is later demoted or even removed from search engine indexes due to the use of unethical and manipulative strategies. And this is exactly what is usually the case with extremely fast results.
Claims to make you rich. How much money you will make with your online business doesn’t only depend on your website’s ranking in SERP. The higher it is ranked the more visitors it will receive and the more visitors typically translate into higher sales. But to make your online business a success, you also need to meet your target audience’s expectations. If you fail to stand up to your promises, even the #1 ranking on Google won’t help. Online, the word spreads even faster than offline.
Refuses to reveal what techniques will be used to improve your website’s visibility. Now wait a minute! You are supposed to give them your money without knowing where it’s going and simply trust them that they won’t use any potentially damaging techniques? If the provider refuses to reveal exactly how they intend to improve your website’s SERP ranking, be sure to walk away.
Promises to deliver high quality at an extremely low price. It may be true that quality SEO service doesn’t have to be unaffordable but too-good-to-be-true prices are just that. Too good to be true. If you want quality service, be reasonable about your price expectations.
Besides ethical/unethical and organic/non-organic, you may also come across black hat/white hat SEO when looking for information about search engine optisation or a SEO specialist. Both seek to improve a website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERP) and help the website owner benefit from online presence. But there is a huge difference in methods they use to improve a website’s SERP ranking. While one can help you achieve your online goals, the other can even get your website banned by the search engines.
Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO refers to the use of techniques that try to trick the search engines into thinking that a website deserves to be ranked higher for particular keywords. These are the techniques that search engines strongly disapprove. As a result, they ruthlessly punish websites utilising black hat SEO when they discover that they have been manipulated. And sooner or later they do. In order to protect themselves from unscrupulous SEO providers and webmasters and continue to deliver quality results to their users, search engines change their algorithms on a virtually daily basis. In year 2010, Google made as many as 500 algorithm changes which equals 1.5 per day. As a result, manipulations and deceptions don’t remain undetected for long.
White Hat SEO
Unlike black hat SEO, white hat SEO involves the use of tools and techniques that are explicitly approved by the search engines. Google for instance offers guidelines to follow to make a website more Google friendly and subsequently, achieve better rankings. White hat SEO works by encouraging natural backlinks by giving the website’s visitors a reason to leave a link to it on other websites with relevant content, typically by providing unique and valuable content, improving user-friendliness and making website’s design more attractive.
How to Tell the Difference Between Black Hat and White Hat SEO
Obviously, no SEO provider will tell you that they are using any potentially damaging tools and techniques. To avoid wasting money on SEO service that will earn you a penalty from Google and other search engines in the form of demotion or removal, you are recommended to walk away if the provider suggests use of one or more of the following techniques:
- keyword stuffing – excessive use of the selected keyword(s) within a page
- hidden text – making text invisible to visitors but visible to web spiders
- directory submissions, blog networks, link buying
- article spinning
If you need an advice on how to choose a SEO provider, you may also find useful our articles “Choosing an SEO Specialist” and “Beware of SEO Providers Who…”.
According to most SEO specialists, domain name no longer has the same weight as it used to have just a few years ago. Nevertheless, it continues to play an important role in SEO.
What’s the Connection?
There seems to be both direct and indirect connection between SERP ranking and domain name. Though including target keywords in the domain no longer has the same weight, it appears to be very helpful, especially if relevant for specific industry. But even more important is the indirect connection. Websites with domain names that are easy to remember are more likely to be both visited and referred to by web users, sending search engines a signal that the site is offering a good value to its visitors which in turn is the key to higher SERP ranking.
In addition or according to some, instead of including target keywords, it is actually more important to choose domain name that is brandable, arguing that Google loves brands. If you look at the most successful online businesses, many have indeed established themselves as huge brands even though their domain’s don’t include important keywords or even have a direct association with their industry. Let’s take Amazon for example. There are no keywords relevant for e-commerce or association with retail industry whatsoever. Yet it is the world’s largest online retailer and ranks in the top for just about everything.
Choosing the Best Domain Name
Ideally, your domain name should reflect your business’/website’s identity. Whether to choose a domain that includes target keywords or something completely out of the box depends greatly on your business model, philosophy and long term goals. For example, if you’re creating a company website, it is probably best to use your company’s name to make it simple and build a brand both online and offline. But if you are planning doing business online exclusively, you have much more freedom in the selection of domain name.
For the above mentioned reasons, you are advised to take some time to come up with a name that it is easily brandable. To achieve this, you are recommended to choose a domain that is:
- short and easy to remember
- different yet familiar (think on Amazon)
- easy to spell
Layer3 is Eager to Help
If you need some help with the selection of domain name or SEO, or both, we are happy to help. You can contact us via email or by phone on the number 0203-397-3655. We will answer any questions you have!
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a complicated process and shouldn’t be attempted on your own if you are not absolutely sure what you are doing. An error can be misinterpreted by search engines as an attempt to deceive them or make it difficult for the web spiders to crawl your website. If SEO would be that easy, no one would be paying thousands of pounds to SEO specialists. If you aren’t one yourself, you are recommended to leave over the whole SEO thing to a professional.
Although DIY-SEO often results in a professional repairing the damage and starting with SEO from the start, there are a few things you can do on your own to improve your website’s search engine rankings including:
Understand how search engines work. Major search engines such as Google use a website ranking system that is primarily based on content and inbound links. These are interpreted as a sign of popularity. Therefore, the more the backlinks (quality ones!) you have the greater the value of your website at search engines. Keep in mind, however, that search engines have the tools to recognise natural from non-natural links. Any attempts to trick them into thinking that your website is hugely popular with the web users sooner or later lead either to demotion or elimination of the website from the indexes.
More content. Search engines love websites with unique, quality content. And so do web users who are looking for valuable information and interesting content. As much as both search engines and web users are concerned, there can never be enough of quality content. So start writing or hire a quality writer to regularly supply you with original, up-to-date and relevant content for your website. Poorly written, unoriginal content can be equally damaging as unethical link building.
Make a keyword research. Search engines list websites in search results according to the keywords or keyword phrases that are entered by their users. For that reason it is worth to take time to find out which relevant keywords and keyword phrases are most often entered by web users (you can use Google Keyword Tool) and make sure that they are included on relevant pages. This will make it easier on web spiders to connect your website with particular keywords and subsequently improve your rankings. Just be sure not to use too many keywords as the search engines may think that you are trying to manipulate them.
Make sure there aren’t any technical errors. These can make it difficult for web spiders to crawl your website which in turn can negatively affect its rankings in search engine results pages. So make sure there are no technical errors or have a web designer review your website from the technical aspect.
Be patient. Most of the websites you regularly see on first page of Google search results needed several years to get where they are today. So be patient and continue to develop your website to make it even better and more attractive to both search engines and their users. It is only a matter of time before they will recognise the value of your website.
Making your website more search engine-friendly is very important if you want to benefit from your online presence. The thing is that the vast majority of people use search engines to look for information. You can therefore expect to generate more traffic only when you persuade the search engines that your website deserves to be ranked high in their results pages for particular keywords.
Although SEO is supposed to help you make the most out of your online presence by helping you improve your website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERP), this is not always the case. In fact, sometimes SEO can damage your website’s ranking rather than improving it and even get your website banned by search engines. The damage can be repaired but it is better to prevent it from happening in the first place. The importance of the basic knowledge of SEO therefore can’t be stressed enough.
If you don’t want SEO to damage your website’s ranking, you should strictly avoid the so-called black hat techniques. Examples include keyword stuffing, using hidden text, link spamming and similar methods which are intended to deceive the search engines and manipulate them into ranking your website higher in SERP. Search engines continuously change their algorithms to prevent being manipulated (Google changes algorithms virtually on a daily basis) because their success depends on providing relevant listings to queries of their users. If they fail to do that, they are risking losing their users to other search engines.
When discovering black hat techniques (and they sooner or later do), search engines always penalise websites that use manipulative and deceiving SEO methods either by reducing their rankings or removing them entirely from their indexes. In order words, your website can fall to the 100th page or be even erased completely from SERP. You are therefore highly recommended to avoid using any unethical SEO tactics that are disapproved by the search engines. For the very same reason, you are recommended to be very careful whom you entrust your SEO campaign.
Unfortunately, the use of unethical SEO techniques is not that rare even among those who call themselves specialists and promise to help you make the most out of your online presence. How to choose an SEO specialist who won’t jeopardise your website’s ranking and how to recognise providers who may cause more damage than good is discussed in our articles “Choosing an SEO Specialist” and “Beware of SEO Providers Who…”, respectively. Penalty recovery can be very expensive and time consuming, so take a few minutes to learn more about how to avoid wasting your money on SEO services that can worsen rather than improve your website’s search engine rankings.
Google is the most popular search engine in the UK and most other parts of the world. In the United States, nearly 70 percent of web users are estimated to use Google Search to browse the web. In the UK, the search engine’s market share is even bigger as nearly 90 percent of people search information on the world wide web by using Google. In order to benefit from search engine optimisation (SEO), your website should therefore comply with Google guidelines. But what does Google say about SEO? Does it even approve it? Let’s see.
Google General SEO Guidelines
Google is OK with SEO. It says that an SEO specialist can be a wise investment and that they can help improve your website visibility. But it also warns on potential negative effects of unethical SEO providers in the form of decline in search results ranking or even removal of your website from Google’s index. According to Google general guidelines, you can benefit the most from SEO services that:
- provide advice on content development and structure
- offer help in technical aspects such as hosting and coding
- take care of keyword research
- help you with online business development
- provide useful information on particular markets
- provide SEO advice and training
When to Hire an SEO Specialist
According to Google, the best time to hire an SEO specialist is when you are planning to launch a new website or to redesign the existing one in order to make sure that your site is search engine friendly from the start. But existing websites can benefit from SEO as well, Google says.
What is Google Friendly Website
If you want your website to be likeable to Google, it should:
- have quality content that provides valuable information to the visitors of your website
- be accessible by making it easy for the web spiders to crawl and gather information
- include relevant keywords within relevant pages but avoid unethical, deceiving methods such as keyword stuffing
Google also recommends to make sure that other websites with relevant content link to yours because each link increases the weight of your website. However, Google also warns that its algorithms can tell the difference between natural and unnatural links. Backlinks from spam or unrelated websites and excessive link buying can negatively affect your website’s ranking in Google search results.
In order to meet Google requirements and make your website likeable to the search engine, don’t simply hire an SEO specialist and hope that they don’t use any potentially damaging techniques. Unfortunately, there are many SEO providers who don’t hesitate to use manipulative tactics which do more harm than good. You are therefore recommended to take some time and educate yourself about SEO. Hire a specialist only if you are absolutely sure that they don’t use any unethical techniques which could get you in trouble with Google and other search engines.
SEO content writing has always played an important role in the SEO industry and it will continue to do so in the future because search engines love quality, unique and original content. However, SEO content writing isn’t just about impressing the search engines. If you want your website to move higher in search engine results pages (SERP) and maintain a good ranking, you need to impress visitors of your website as well. SEO content writing is therefore much more than getting the right keyword density and writing META tags. The key is to make content likeable to both search engines and web users.
Keyword Density – How Important Is It
Search engines display websites in results pages according to keywords and keyword phrases that are typed into search form. In order to rank high and attract as many visitors as possible, it is therefore crucial to develop content around most searched keywords that are relevant for your website. It is crucial, however, to avoid excessive use of keywords or keyword stuffing because it can adversely affect your website’s SERP ranking. And besides getting the right keyword density which is according to most SEO content writers about 3%, it is also crucial to make sure that they don’t affect readability.
SEO Content Writing and Backlinks
SEO content writing doesn’t only help you rank higher in SERP by making it easier for search engines to recognise your website’s value. By providing quality, interesting and up-to-date information to web users, they are more likely to leave backlinks to your site on other relevant websites and win you lots of extra points at search engines. These also consider the amount and quality of backlinks when ranking websites and links from satisfied web users (natural backlinks) have the highest value.
To impress both search engines and visitors of your website, it is crucial to meet the requirements of both. But besides providing quality, interesting and unique content with just the right keyword density that doesn’t affect readability, it is also important to understand user-friendliness. You can have the best content on the world wide web but visitors of your website may not recognise its value if it isn’t arranged in an attractive way. Most web users don’t really read everything but rather scan websites. Therefore it is a good idea to arrange content in bullet points or short paragraphs with subtitles.
There Can Never Be Too Much Content
Google and other major search engines like dynamic websites that continue to grow and develop. Static websites, on the other hand, usually eventually decline in SERP. To maintain a good SERP ranking when achieving it, you are therefore recommended to continue to add new content or hire a good SEO content writer to do it for you.
Why Do Backlinks Matter
Search engines use a number of methods to rate relevance of websites for particular keyword and keyword phrases. And backlinks to your website are one of these methods. As a result, backlinks have a major influence on your search engine results pages (SERP) ranking because each link is interpreted by the search engines as a vote. And the more votes you have, the higher the value of your website in the eyes of search engine which automatically translates into higher SERP ranking and more traffic. Every good search engine optimisation (SEO) campaign therefore also includes link building.
SEO Link Building Strategies
The SEO industry uses hundreds of strategies to increase the number of backlinks to a website. But not all achieve the same results, while some such as excessive link buying or exchanging can even get you a penalty from search engines either in the form of lower SERP ranking or elimination from their indexes. Also, before giving your SEO specialist a go ahead for a link building strategy, it is highly important to be aware that not every link brings equal amount of votes. In order to benefit from SEO link building strategies, these should be focused not only on increasing the quantity of backlinks to your website but on quality too.
Natural Vs Non-Natural Link Building
The easiest way to increase the number of backlinks to a website and increase its value in the eyes of search engines is to purchase links on quality websites with good PageRank and relevant content. And this is the strategy most SEO providers use. But as time has shown, this may get you in trouble with search engines because they have tools to recognise between these and the so-called natural links that are left on other websites by their owners or web users. Natural links get most votes because they indicate the actual popularity of your website and subsequently, help search engines determine which websites deserve to be ranked higher in SERP for particular keywords and keywords phrases.
If you want your website to move higher in SERP for relevant keywords and keyword phrases, you should strive to increase both quantity and quality of backlinks to your website. But since some link building strategies can potentially negatively affect your SERP ranking, you are recommended to avoid manipulative strategies and SEO providers using unethical tactics. In order to benefit from SEO link building and avoid potential search engine penalties in the future, it is best to increase quantity and quality of backlinks naturally, i.e. making your website’s visitors and webmasters want to link to your website. Natural link building takes more time to show results but it brings results than last. And besides helping you improve your SERP ranking, natural link building also helps increase traffic to your website and improve your online reputation.
Google and other search engines strongly disapprove manipulative and deceiving SEO tactics, and punish websites utilising unethical strategies by demotion or elimination from their indexes. To avoid this from happening to your website, it is therefore of utmost importance to be very careful whom you hire to make your website more likeable to search engines. But how can you tell who is using exclusively ethical SEO strategies and who can get you in trouble with search engines? Here are top 5 most obvious signs of SEO scams:
1. Promise to get your website to #1 on Google.
No one can guarantee #1 on Google and other search engines. How far your website will progress in search engine results pages (SERP) after the completion of your SEO campaign also depends greatly on competition. If competition is very high, you may not make it to the 1st page of search results and much less to the 1st place. Also, just because your website #1 on Google that doesn’t necessarily mean it will stay there. If any unethical tactics have been used, your website is at risk of being demoted or even banned by search engines.
2. Claim to bring noticeable results in a very short period of time.
SEO takes time to show results. It may take weeks or even months to achieve any significant progress in SERP. Any promises of extremely fast results should therefore raise a red flag. Not only they are highly unlikely to be realised, they are also highly likely to be based on manipulative and deceiving SEO tactics.
3. Guarantee to bring thousands of visitors to your website.
Most web users choose to open only a few websites on the first few pages of search results. As a result, the higher your website ranks in SERP the more visitors it receives. However, your website’s traffic doesn’t only depend on its SERP ranking but it also depends on the number of searches for relevant keywords and keyword phrases. To generate high traffic, you need to rank high in SERP for highly searched keywords.
4. Offering “highest quality” service at an extremely low price.
It is highly important to be aware that there is no such thing as cheap yet high quality SEO service. Search engine optimisation is a highly complex, labour intensive and time consuming job which requires specialised knowledge. The price doesn’t necessarily indicate the quality and it is also possible to find high quality service at an affordable price. However, it is not realistic to expect to have the job done properly for a couple hundred pounds.
5. Refusing/avoiding answering your questions.
All SEO providers promise to improve your website’s visibility and deliver the highest quality service for your money. Unfortunately, many don’t. Fortunately, there is a relatively simple way to find out who really delivers what they promise and who may get you in trouble with search engines – ask many questions and expect to be asked plenty of questions yourself. If you receive unsatisfactory or no answers at all, or if SEO provider isn’t showing much interest in your needs and expectations, they are highly unlikely to do a good job.
As you most likely already know, having a website is not enough to succeed online. To make your online venture a success, you need to attract as many visitors as possible. And to do that, you need your website to appear high in search engine results pages (SERP) for relevant keywords. Search engine optimisation (SEO) can help you achieve just that.
You have basically two options when it comes to SEO. You can either hire an SEO specialist to make your website more search engine friendly or outsource the whole optimisation thing to an SEO agency. Each of both options have their pros and cons, and to make your decision easier, we will briefly look at both advantages and disadvantages of the two options.
Having an SEO specialist working exclusively on your website. By employing an SEO specialist, he or she will focus exclusively on your website as opposed to SEO agencies that typically work for multiple clients at a time.
Complete control over your SEO project. Having an SEO specialist working next door or down the hallway gives you full control over the strategies he or she uses, what has been done, what will be done, when, how, etc.
Better understanding of your company and specific needs. An SEO expert that works directly for your company understands your business, day to day operation and what you need (and don’t need) a lot better than someone who has never set foot in your company.
Higher costs. SEO specialists are very expensive, especially if you want them to dedicate themselves exclusively to your business. Unless you run a larger number of websites, hiring an SEO expert can be a serious financial strain.
Uncertain results. By hiring an SEO specialist, your SEO project depends exclusively on a single person as opposed to outsourced campaigns that are typically developed and implemented by a team of SEO experts rather than one person.
Lower costs. SEO agencies which deliver what they promise aren’t exactly inexpensive but the overall cost of the campaign is typically considerably lower in comparison in-house SEO.
Experience. The fact that SEO agencies work for multiple clients can also be viewed as an advantage because it means they have experience working for a wide range of businesses. Also, a long list of satisfied clients is the best proof that they deliver high quality service.
Expertise. To ensure the best results, SEO agencies typically entrust development and implementation of their SEO campaigns to a team of specialists rather than a single person.
Results-driven. When you have an SEO specialist working for you directly, you have to give them the agreed salary regardless if their work brings results or not. SEO agencies, on the other hand, can’t afford not to bring results because if they don’t stand up to their promises, they can’t expect to win new clients or retain the existing ones.
Virtual service. When you work with an SEO agency, you often don’t even see the people who are optimising your website.
Sharing SEO specialists with other website owners. When outsourcing SEO, you may need to wait for your turn.