At Kymodo, clients contact us every day wanting to know where it all went wrong with their last SEO company, and whether we’ll be any different.
The problem with many SEO companies is that by the time the “results” you’ve paid for have vanished, so has your SEO provider’s budget!
In this blog, our account managers explain three of the most common “black hat” SEO techniques their clients have fallen victim to.
Bogus Backlinks and SEO Terrorists
Gone are the days when, if you wanted to establish a strong SEO profile quickly, you could just create a tonne of non-discriminate backlinks pointing to your website.
Nowadays, Google only rewards backlinks from websites with strong domain authority – think local directories, relevant industry websites and social media giants like Facebook.
However, even though this new requirement for strong domain authority is now common knowledge in the SEO community, many companies still insist on creating horrendous backlink profiles for their clients.
“A lot of dodgy companies do it. It’s a short term gain and they get them to number one or get them a thousand backlinks a month and people think it’s excellent. They spam, get their money, then leave. Then one to twelve months later they’ll be hit with a penalty and won’t be able to rank,” explains Kymodo account manager Kellie West.
Once Google recognises your site is linked to by sites/domains (such as private blog networks) with the sole purpose of creating links to thousands of unrelated websites, or that you’ve created a slew of fake profiles across the internet for the sole purpose of generating links, you are going to be penalised.
Google’s penalisations usually involve an immediate, massive drop in ranks that is tough to come back from.
If Google penalises you for bad backlinks, you’ll either have to remove these links to your site before you can start climbing the search engine result ranks again, or start from scratch and create a new website with a different domain.
But these black hat practices are just the tip of the iceberg.
The really bad guys of SEO know the power of bad backlinks, and some rogue operators even take unsuspecting businesses’ websites hostage by using giant private blog networks to create thousands of terrible links to their pages!
These operators crawl the web for URLs they can add to their networks, and if you want to get rid of the toxic backlinks they’ve made to your site, you have to pay the host website’s creators to take them down!
“It’s a super shady business practice, and we don’t want to pay people for having done this in the first place. But in some cases, it’s the only way to get rid of all of the horrible backlinks. It’s negotiating with SEO terrorists,” says Kellie.
Our advice? Never approve a backlink campaign without first finding out exactly where you’ll get your links. And if you realise an SEO scammer is taking you for a ride, get help from white hat professionals fast!
SEO Snake Oil 101: Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is the door-to-door snake oil sale of the SEO industry. It’s easy to do, might work for a while, but when the results wear off your budget (or provider!) will be long gone.
“Keyword stuffing is another huge way SEO companies rip people off all the time,” says Kymodo account manager Alex Connellan.
What is keyword stuffing?
Say your business is to generate search engine results for other Brisbane businesses, so the primary keyword you want to target is “SEO Brisbane”.
A bad SEO company will:
- Tell you to use your keyword in your business’ name and/or its website: Congratulations, your new digital marketing company is now called “SEO Brisbane” and can be found at www.SEOBrisbane.com.
- Use that keyword throughout all of the content on every page of your website. The first paragraph of the home page will start with “At SEO Brisbane we create Brisbane SEO solutions to deliver SEO Brisbane businesses need”.
- Include your keyword all over your website using white text on a white background, so that the user can’t see it but the Google spider will crawl it.
- Put the keyword in the image titles or alt text throughout the website, regardless of what the image is.
- Create multiple different pages – one for each keyword – leaving your website with 20 to 50 useless pages that say the same thing.
The major problem with “black hat” SEO tactics like keyword stuffing is that they do work, initially.
But there’s a big catch.
Google is smart enough to recognise when you are keyword spamming. Once their user interaction analysis (bounce rate, session duration, pages per session), artificial intelligence, and content quality evaluation (how often the terms occur naturally in comparison to how many words the document is, how many times your exact term appears, the grammatical accuracy of your content) recognises keyword stuffing you can wave your rankings goodbye.
“Once Google sees what you’re trying to do they’ll say ‘I got you! You’re spamming this particular keyword. Let’s not give them the right to that.’ And they will penalise you, usually after the SEO company you’ve hired has already been paid for the ‘results’ they’ve delivered,” says Alex.
When it comes to generating rankings through keywords, your best bet is to hire an SEO company with professional copywriters who will create content with lasting value.
I Got 99 Keywords but My Traffic is None
Many search engine optimisation companies tempt potential clients with guaranteed first page ranking on search engine keywords/phrases.
In fact, to boost your confidence in their SEO abilities, some of these companies will even offer only to charge you for the terms that make it to the first page of search engine results.
But, according to Kymodo account manager James Ososki, if you aren’t ranking for the right terms, “you might as well just set your money on fire”.
“When it comes to search engine ranking, it’s easy to rank for non-competitive long tail keywords. While ranking for highly precise, three or four-word phrases can be highly valuable to a campaign, if these phrases aren’t directly relevant to what your potential customer base is searching for, they will not deliver any real return on investment,” James says.
In fact, ranking for irrelevant terms can damage your business’ bottom line.
When Google users type in a search phrase that leads them straight to your website, but your website doesn’t have what they are looking for, they will quickly leave the page.
If this happens often, your bounce rate will increase, your average session duration will decrease, and Google will use those statistics to reassess the credibility of your site in general. This reassessment may result in your prized first-page search engine ranking being very short lived.
It’s always better to satisfy a few users who have found your site through relevant, short keywords/phrases on page two, three or four of their Google results, than to have your bounce rate soar from misguided clicks generated from targeting irrelevant keywords.