The matter of good SEO practices is often discussed on the web about companies (digital agencies or independent SEO specialists) that offer these services. Usually, these are compared to the bad, harmful practices generically known as bad SEO. What is the difference between these though?
Is there a real gap between the two and is truly translated into better or worse results? We are going to explore the answers below.
How will ‘good’ and ‘bad’ SEO affect your business?
If you want to grow an online business and build a positive brand reputation, you don’t just need SEO – you need good SEO. A less qualified professional, or someone adopting bad practices, will harm your business in more than one way. When professionals employ good SEO tactics, a website grows organically in terms of traffic and climbs higher in the search engine charts. It has a stable trajectory, with no sudden loss of position/rankings or popularity. It grows steadily, building a solid reputation that customers trust. With bad SEO, it is possible to experience a quick growth, but it won’t last. It can attract search engine penalties, taking your website off the charts. When people search for your products or services, they won’t be able to see your site anymore, but those of your competitors. Bad SEO can get you to ‘rank high’ for keywords that aren’t used by people as search phrases and thus be rendered useless; or, it can rank for the wrong keywords, which leads to visitor disappointment. Bad professionals might also stuff your pages with keywords, which is an outdated and very noxious practice that fails to communicate value to search engines.
What are ‘White hat’ and ‘black hat SEO’?
Those who implement white hat strategies rely on safe and approved tactics; it means that these are accepted and encouraged by search engines like Google. Such specialists are also focused on what happens at the user’s end – what experience they create for the website visitors. White hat SEO experts have real marketing knowledge, too. They care about their client’s online image and reputation. They won’t just focus on rankings alone, but also on branding elements, on creating a positive reputation on every channel involved (social media, online ads and promotional campaigns) and securing quality leads. They will create good quality content, to be enjoyed by visitors, while refusing to copy or to stuff pages with irrelevant text.
Bad SEO practices that destroy Google rankings
Black hat strategies don’t care that much about what is recommended. When implemented, these tend to ‘break the rules’ and, for example, use spam to attract visitors. It may work for a short while, but never for the long term; black hat SEO is eventually identified by search engines and the website penalised for it. Here are the tactics and approaches that make black hat SEO so bad:
- keyword stuffing,
- using the same anchor text in every post instead of varied keywords/key phrases,
- duplicating/stealing content,
- inserting intrusive, annoying pop-ups,
- making content hard to access (through ads, folds, overlapping pop-ups and so on),
- buying links in bulk instead of taking the time to create relevant backlinks,
- having too many low-quality links and hardly any high-quality ones,
- posting spam comments to other pages, with links to your website,
- placing ads in unwanted locations on a site,
- not caring about the user experience aspect – it’s not enough to just bring a viewer on a page or website; visitors have to feel inspired to stick around and browse/read/take action.
SEO isn’t a synonym to hacking!
Stay away from any “black hat” tactics in SEO, as well as from anyone claiming to “do better than others” through various hacking tricks. Some so-called specialists may lure you in by telling you that they are ‘hackers’. We all know hackers can be very intelligent and have a great knowledge of how things work, but SEO isn’t about hacking. Anything unethical or illegal will quickly send a negative signal to search engines. The story of copycat content, for example, is well known to everyone in the field. If you ever post a piece of content you copied from somewhere, you will be penalised. Search engines don’t like duplicate content, and the consequences are disastrous for your website. Yes, in its beginnings, SEO somewhat felt like hacking, but it’s not the case anymore. One can no longer manipulate search engine results through various tricks. They need to comply to existing algorithms and play by the rules.
Key traits of a good SEO service
Online businesses that sell and have a vast client base have surely employed a good SEO service. If you think there may be an ‘unfair advantage’, well, this is it – only that it’s truly available to anyone. The needed budget is relative. We will help you hire a good SEO service instead of a bad one, to grow your brand and keep your customers satisfied (make them return). Thus, when you wish to hire SEO professionals, you need to look for certain signs of quality:
- Real SEO Specialists promise not an overnight dramatic growth but a rather slow and steady one.
- They will consider your audience. Good SEO does not disappoint the viewers. This means it relevantly optimises content, without misleading through unmatched key phrases and content. Visitors will be pleased and not let down by what they find on the site.
- Good SEO uses variations of the main keyword instead of stuffing pages with the same word.
- The user experience is a top priority with good SEO. The texts read well and flow nicely, entertaining and informing.
- Creating valuable guest posts for other websites, which link back to the client’s site, using a relevant anchor text.
- Adjusting SEO strategies according to algorithm changes.
SEO services for online businesses
Because search engines have the same rules for everyone, SEO experts have developed the same tactics to improve rankings.
Keyword Research & Analysis (finding not only the relevant keywords people search for, but also identifying variations or synonyms, along with long-tail keywords or key phrases that can replace those).
Competitor Analysis (a handy service that spies on the competition, analysing the keywords used, the content and anything they may be doing to get ahead).
Mobile Website Optimisation (catering to incoming traffic from mobile devices, which is more and more numerous; making your website more mobile-friendly).
Link earning (creating relationships with other websites, reaching to a wider audience and earning backlinks through great content).
Content creation (a specialised writer or writers team will create new content for the site, based on search engine prescriptions, at the same time highly relevant and informative to the visitors).
What you should ask your SEO expert
Found an excellent SEO agency but you’re not yet sure it’s going to work well for you? You can firstly find your answers by reading their website. Is it transparent enough? Does it offer enough details? Can you accurately understand what it is about or at least has a clue? Contact the agency and ask about the tactics employed. Black hat SEO ‘experts’ will not disclose what they do but rather keep it secret. Real experts will try their best to explain it to you and describe the process in a layman’s terms. Is there a track record? Good digital agencies usually work long-term for their clients and can provide examples of their work. They are proud to display their customers. Is there a strategy? They should be able to describe it to you and outline the main goals and actions, instead of merely saying, “we’ll get you to rank first”.
SEO is a service that means hard work and in most cases a long term investment. Make sure you can trust the provider before you have a deal with them.