It's sad, but true: not all SEO companies are created equal. In fact, some of them can end up harming and even killing your business, rather than helping you out. You need to be informed about some of the destructive forms of SEO that are out there, so that you can avoid companies that engage in them.
Don't get us wrong: we fully believe that most SEO companies online are legitimate outfits using the best SEO practices they know. Unfortunately, there are still a small but deeply harmful minority that insist on using so-called “black hat” SEO techniques. These are methods which are, at best, simply useless and, at worst, outright deceptive.
So, if you're worried that your SEO company may be killing your business rather than growing it, here are some warning signs to watch for. Although, preferably, you should be avoiding SEO firms that engage in these practices altogether.
Signs Your SEO Company May Be Killing Your Business
Content is king on the Internet, and there is simply NO acceptable substitute for content written from scratch by a human being. Anything else produces junk that no customer is going to want to read and that, most likely, Google will penalize you for producing.
You're getting splogs rather than blogs. Spam blogs, or “splogs” have long been a problem in Google searching, but Google has been stepping up their efforts to get rid of them. Splogs generally have little, if any, actual content. At times they may seem to have been generated using a Markov Text Chain generator to create nonsense sentences that are still realistic enough to fool search spiders.
They use “Autospinning” software to create copies of articles: Another way these fly-by-night SEO companies skimp on actual content creation is to take one single article – often not even their own work – and then run it through “autospinning” software. This uses an automatic thesaurus function to switch words for synonyms, creating an article with the same content as the original, but with enough words changed to fool plagiarism scanners.
Everyone wishes there were ways to cheat on link-building, but sadly, there simply isn't. Any attempt to do so will, again, likely run afoul of Google's terms of service and result in huge hits to your search rankings.
Link-Buying: Simply put, do not EVER allow your SEO company to trade money, goods, or discounts for inbound links. With the recent Google Penguin updates, they can spot this behavior and will immediately destroy your search rankings if they catch you doing it. This used to be a fairly standard practice, so make sure your SEO firm no longer does it if they once did.
Anything involving social engineering: This may go without saying since most social engineering is flat-out illegal, but some black-hat firms still try it. Anything that involves misrepresenting yourself (or your business) to others is an immediate no-go and will kill your company and your reputation if you're caught at it.
III. Social Media
In the realm of social media, the main thing to avoid are any automated processes. Never allow your SEO firm to use cut-and-pasted responses on message boards of social media as advertisements. These are rightfully considered pure spam. Likewise, your Tweets and Facebook posts should always be written by a real human responding directly to the content under discussion.
Remember, social media is a forum, not a soapbox. Any social interactions not designed specifically to engage people and make them want to discuss things with you are going to fundamentally be harmful, rather than helpful.
When in Doubt...
If you have any doubts over how your SEO company is handling your account, demand detailed records on their processes as well as their results. An above-board company should have no problem fulfilling this.
Have you gotten burned by a “killer” SEO company? Share your story!
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