I received a major crash course in SEO when I started my position at a new company and had to take over their efforts to get out of penalty with Google. They had been placed in penalty for black hat marketing tactics (essentially finding ways to cheat Google’s algorithm) and they weren’t the only ones. Big companies like Expedia and J.C. Penny made headlines for also being put under penalty with Google back in 2011.
After catching on to the fact that people were exploiting Google’s loopholes for their own organic SEO gain, Google made changes to their algorithm that completely altered the way in which the SEO industry had been operating. Unfortunately, not everyone got the memo. There are still plenty of SEO companies who are trying to beat the system and prey on business owners who don’t know better.
To help ensure that your business doesn’t become a victim of an SEO scam, be sure to steer clear of SEO “experts” if they tell you these 5 things:
“I can guarantee you fast results”
There is no way to guarantee results for organic SEO. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to cheat you. Since there is no longer a way to beat the system, if you are running a successful SEO operation it could take anywhere between 4 to 9 months to start seeing a pay off. Newer websites typically take longer to rank because you are starting with a clean slate and have to build up from scratch. If your site is a bit older, however, your results might be dependent upon your prior history with Google and how trustworthy your site appears to be. And of course, if you’ve been placed under penalty, it can take longer than 4 to 9 months to have the penalty lifted because Google wants to make sure you’ve taken all the necessary steps to clean up your SEO.
“UX has nothing to do with SEO”
Anyone who tells you that the user experience (UX) has nothing to do with your SEO ranking, has not read up on Google’s more sophisticated algorithms. Google’s algorithm now takes into account how well your website interacts with customers and how well you solve problems for customers. UX has to be a high priority when it comes to SEO, so if an agency is telling you that they don’t do that or that it doesn’t matter, you should walk away on the spot.
“Duplicate content doesn’t matter”
This one needs a little clarification because here there can be a difference between duplicate content that serves a purpose, such as having http and https content that can be crawled, and copied or scraped content that is “of malicious intent.” Google takes into account a few things when it comes to determining whether your content will work against you or not including the volume of copied content, copied content from other sites that “does not add any original content or value,” and reproducing “content feeds from other sites without providing some type of unique organization or benefit to the user.”
“Don’t bother with social media”
Social media now also plays a significant role in SEO efforts and should 100% be included as part of an overall strategy. While Google has admitted that social media won’t directly affect your organic ranking, a 2016 white paper from Searchmetrics called “Rebooting Ranking Factors” found that “the correlation between social signals and ranking position is extremely high…The top-ranked websites in Google’s rankings displays vastly more social signals than all other pages.”
“We’ll save you money by hiring cheap content labor”
Probably the most significant change to Google’s algorithm was the change over to rewarding quality over quantity. Content that does not read well, or does not offer a consumer value outside of serving as keyword bait, will not perform well when it comes to organic SEO. Over the past few years there has been a shift within the industry to a content-centric approach to SEO, leaving many content marketers regurgitating the phrase, “content is king.” While it might be clichéd at this point, it still rings true, so be wary of any Search Engine Optimization “expert” who doesn’t think you need to make an investment in quality content.
Author – Hilary Young provides content, SEO and marketing consulting services through her company, Hilary Young Creative. You can follow her on Twitter @hyoungcreative for more SEO and marketing tips for your business.