Why unethical SEO tactics will damage your business
Have you ever received an email from a ‘marketing expert’ promising you pole position on Google? You are not alone. But should you consider taking up this kind of offer? The reality is this is probably someone touting unethical SEO tactics that could damage your website in the long run.
First, what is SEO and what tactics are bad for business?
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the practice of designing and populating your website in a way that makes it discoverable to your audience. Being on page one of Google search results when someone types specific words into their browser or uses voice search is key way to achieving this.
How do search results work?
Google ranks search results based on what it believes is the best information to answer its users’ queries. It relies on a myriad of algorithms to do this.
In the past, Google gauged the usefulness of a website by looking at the number of links it had from other places on the internet and the keywords published on it, among other metrics.
The problem was this was not a good indicator of the quality of the site, as these things can be easily manipulated.
Unethical ‘black hat’ SEO
SEO businesses popped up all over the internet offering their clients links from hundreds of low quality sites and stuffing pages with unnatural copy to attract search engine hits.
The result was that poor quality websites, which had nothing to do with the topic being searched for, would end up on page one of search results.
For Google, these unethical practices were a big issue. If web users weren’t finding the right information they would lose confidence in its search results.
So, like any dynamic business, Google evolved its algorithms to spot these ‘black hat’ SEO tactics. And it has continued to do so.
A recent Google update, dubbed Bert, is allowing Google to understand the context of terms people tap into the search bar. Prepositions like ‘for’ and ‘to’ now have more weight, whereas in the past Google might have skipped over these important sentence builders.
Anyone still using unethical SEO tactics will have seen a fall off in traffic over the past few years, particularly since Bert.
‘White hat’ ethical SEO
So, how can you practice ethical SEO? The way forward is building a website that:
- is easy to navigate with a good structure and internal links
- includes quality content about your business
- and uses keywords in a natural way, rather than stuffing them into every sentence.
Gaining links from other websites continues to be important, but these need to be high quality and relevant. Trying to outsmart Google with unnatural link building will damage your website in the long run.
If you have had a brush with black hat SEO or have seen a drop in online traffic and want to check the health of your website then we can help. Amplify PR is a Southampton-based PR and marketing agency offering website design, copywriting and ethical SEO services.