Bad SEO can make you jump up the rankings one minute but then drop like a stone the next. Here we take a look at why so many small businesses opt for the cheaper option and get into trouble.
There are people who believe search engine optimisation (SEO) is dead or dying (it’s been doing that for an awful long time). There are those that don’t. There are those who think SEO is all about keywords and are too idle or too in love with the concept to let it go. And there are those who have long known that it is a little more complex than that.
Good content counts. Good, well written content. Let’s get that out there straight away.
There are those who wouldn’t know a Google algorithm if it stood up and kicked them in the tush. Oh, yes, they mention it to their clients every four or five seconds, but they don’t have a clue what it is or what it does.
Yes, I’m talking to you Bad SEO man (or woman) with your penguin stuffed up your shirt and list of keywords written on your arm and your basic lack of imagination.
Here’s the first tip for your business: BEWARE, SEO IS EASY TO BLAG!
Blag: v. meaning: 1. manage to obtain (something) by using persuasion or guile 2. steal (something) in a violent robbery or raid.
For businesses trying to do the right thing and maximise their brand presence online, it is tempting to put their trust in the first SEO expert who comes along.
Unfortunately, there have always been some worrying trends in the world of SEO and the people who are catching the brunt of it are SMEs who don’t quite know what they are looking for or what it all means.
The Simple View of SEO
There are particular keywords that relate to your business. If you put those keywords in your web content, Google will wet its pants and throw you, with a scream of “LOOKY-SEE”, to the top of the search engine rankings.
This is largely a bunch of old tosh. If an SEO expert is telling your business that all you need is to stuff in enough keywords and your ranking will explode, then take out a gun and shoot him or her.
Want to know why? SEO is more nuanced than that. If you want to take an alternative view, SEO these people know it started to die out about ten years ago.
Okay, here’s my first serious gripe of the day. I was asked to write some blogs for a site recently. The owner said he had found someone on PPH of all places to sort out the SEO, they’d produced a report and it suggested having regular blogs.
Fine. That’s a good start, isn’t it? Blogs are good, right. Doesn’t everyone say so? They’re top of the marketing to do list, just below a video of you naked playing with your latest product.
Then I read the report.
It was short and not too revealing (contained a few typos as well) and included a very short list of keywords that I could have produced in a few seconds without any research at all. The suggestion was that the proposed blog articles should utilise these keywords. The brevity and naivety of the report got me wondering.
I read the website content that was already there. It seemed to me that whoever had written this rubbish was intent on getting that narrow set of keywords in every sentence, sometimes twice, more often than not at the expense of coherent prose. It looked like it had been written by a four year old who had been asked to practice using certain words by their teacher.
I can’t believe this is still going on to varying degrees.
Now get this: The person who had issued the SEO report said that he expected there to be a ‘significant’ improvement in ranking within the next week or so. Not only did this make my heart sink but it also made me worry about what else this person had been up to in his capacity as a so-called SEO expert.
SEO TAKES MONTHS AND MONTHS TO SEE RESULTS.
The kind of SEO this person was up to has given the industry a bad name over the years and has possibly hastened rumours of its demise. There is a reason why this kind of bad SEO has been consigned by more diligent marketers to the garbage bin of history. Not only does it not work, when people do visit your site they will be presented with the most appalling written content.
The result: Are you going to buy something from a site that is poorly written? Are you going to trust them with your credit or debit card details? Do I really need to answer that?
Why Businesses Opt For Bad SEO
Okay this is a pretty severe case. But why do people offer a service like this? And more importantly, why do businesses buy into it?
There are those who provide an SEO service but have never bothered to update their skills. They live in the past where keyword stuffing was a valid, if slightly unseemly, practice. There are others who know it is wrong and still do it because it is easy and people are still willing to buy.
I’ll quickly diverge here and just mention link building in an attempt to not be too one dimensional. There’s no doubt that quality links to your site are a good idea. The important word here is ‘quality’. Linking is a whole industry in itself and has led to some real bad SEO spamming practices in the past.
Take this advice. If someone offers you ‘quality’ backlink on the cheap, run. Run as fast as you can. The only solid way to get good quality backlinks is to right good quality content that people actually want to link to.
Anyway, back to the point. Businesses buy into bad SEO primarily because it is cheap and, on the surface, sounds like a good idea. It’s easy to sound knowledgeable about SEO and many businesses get fooled.
But it’s also laziness on the business owner’s part. You can find out the basics of SEO to make a valued decision about you are getting for your money. There are plenty of good articles and videos out there online that are easy to understand and give you a secure grounding in what you should be doing.
The worrying thing is that there are so many of these people still about, giving internet marketing a bad name. In the end, it comes down to a number of individuals who don’t care about the service they offer. Outsourcing to freelancers has taken off big time. It’s useful, especially for SMEs on limited budgets.
And it’s often something businesses spend too little time thinking about.
I’m not one of those who say SEO is dead. Keywords have their place but they are only a small part of a more complicated process nowadays that involves combining good content, sound site structure, and linking it all into social media. All that takes time and hard work to put together. There is no quick fix.
Far too often cheap and bad SEO is being used to attract visitors without regard to the integrity of the content. In other words, the SEO is overbalancing the content. It should be there to complement your site, another facet of your online persona, not the be all and end all.
Check out our post: How Do I Write Website Content That Sells My Business.