SEO – or search engine optimization – is a way to get traffic to your company via search engines. To get your business to appear as a high-ranked site on search engines like Google, you need two things: great content and quality links.
It’s your job as a business owner to make sure you have great content and quality links on your site. If you don’t want to handle this daunting task yourself, you can hire companies to do this for you – a route most businesses tend to choose.
The methods you’re using to gain high rankings could either help or hurt your business. In today’s digital world, the importance of reputation management is crucial to your success. Make sure your SEO practices are truthful and legit, or you run the risk of going out of business or being sued for dishonesty.
Stay away from the following SEO practices to prevent your business from going under:
Tricks to improve your search engine ranking: These tricks include saturating your page with keywords or being repetitive in content, hiding text (using words that are the same color as your background so it’s not visible to the human eye), and cloaking. Cloaking is the practice of altering websites so the reader sees something different than the search engine. All of these practices are extremely unethical.
Bad linking strategies: Never link to scam sites, sites that are currently under SEO penalty, participate in link farms (a group of websites that all hyperlink to each other), purchase links, or use automatic linking software. Again, these practices are unethical and can ban your website permanently from search engines. Once banned, it is incredibly hard to maintain and attract new business.
Instead, focus on building a reputable site that will get you to the top of search engines the old-fashioned way – with hard work and honesty.
The following SEO practices can help your company’s reputation:
Create user-friendly, quality content: A good rule to go by -ask yourself if you would feel comfortable explaining your SEO techniques to your competitors. Only engage in practices that will help your customers. If you’re doing something strictly to increase rankings and your spot on Google, think twice.
Promote that rock-solid content: Instead of trying to trick users into coming to your site, create and strategically promote content that will make users want to come back for more. Good content lasts long-term. Creating duplicate content and using 50 keywords per article may garner a lot of hits at first, but it’s not going to make you stand out from your competition in the long run.
Don’t go cheap: If you plan to hire a SEO firm, don’t look for the cheapest one out there. Instead, do your research and ask the following valuable questions:
• “Can you provide me with some references?” Look into these references to see how well these businesses are ranking and what links are being provided. How long have the references been successful?
• “How are you going to increase traffic to my site?” Talk of keywords, increasing similar content, or automatic linking are huge warning signs to stay away.
• “Are you going to stay within Google’s quality guidelines?” This simple question shows them you want honest, reputable work.
Other fatal mistakes that will hurt your company’s reputation:
• Using the same titles and descriptions throughout your website.
• Using irrelevant keywords, or keywords that have nothing to do with your business or content.
• Using doorway pages – pages that intentionally redirect visitors to a different page without them knowing.
• Checking your Google ranking every day – not much changes day-to-day and it’s important to focus more on creating quality content.
• Spreading your content over several domains.
Eventually, all of these cheap tactics will be noticed, and sites that use them will be penalized. It can be hard, if not impossible, to recover from using these methods. Once a company develops a bad reputation, it’s almost impossible to break away from that. Instead, don’t risk giving your business a bad rep and do the right thing from the get-go.
Remember, to keep your company’s reputation strong, create good content, attract natural links and promote, promote, promote.
Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer covering a wide variety of topics from personal finance and the importance of reputation management to family vacations.