Watch it, your SEO is showing

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is one of the skills involved in developing the maximum sales growth with the support of your website. SEO helps to ensure that if a potential client searches say in Google for relevant key words, then your website features high in the list that is delivered by Google. That sounds straightforward but see what one of the most respected experts in SEO was writing yesterday. Danny Sullivan’s article was entitled “Worthless Shady Criminals: A Defense Of SEO“. Those are very harsh words but you’ll get the sense of the article from two quotes:

SEO doesn’t mean that you build a site to “trick” search engines. It doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice good design. It does mean that you consider some basic tips that even the search engines themselves will tell you to do.

So how did SEO turn into a synonym for many people to mean tricking search engines through bogus links, comment spam, and other unsavoury tactics? It’s happened because there are other flavours of SEO that have developed and dominated the impression of the industry.

Most of those involved in SEO use reputable methods, but there are some shady characters, even here in Montreal. Luckily it’s easy to spot their work although it sometimes takes a bit of digging. However the beauty of the Internet is that all is visible. The shady characters attempt to deliver to the search engines web pages that will rank highly while showing something different to human visitors to the website. If one of your competitors is consistently at the #1 or #2 position for important keywords, then it’s a good question to check why. If you do find they are using under-handed methods, then a message to the search engines may well see their website banned from the search engine until they clean up the mess.

Unfortunately some company presidents may not realize what shady tricks have been used to get their high Google rankings. I see many examples of such tricks. By coincidence I saw a very sad example yesterday. The company is located here in Greater Montreal. The true website opens on a statement from the owner and president, which runs along the following lines (modified to preserve anonymity):

The company’s roots go back almost fifty years, and we have offered the highest quality, tried and true products ever since. Many in the team have been with the company for the long term, sharing my commitment to the highest levels of quality, integrity, reliability and customer service.

Google has the company at #2 for the most important keyword phrase, but unfortunately the page listed by Google is not a visible page but one the SEO ‘expert’ had added to the website to get Google’s attention. It’s what sometimes is called a ‘doorway’ page. It’s not even very well done since it does not redirect you to the regular website. This bait-and-attempted-switch is clearly not at all in line with the high principles of the website owner.

Of course if you feel you want to use any method to get to the top of the Google rankings, then that is your choice. However bear in mind that you run the risk of being banned and whatever you do can be found out by someone out there: perhaps by your competitor.

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