Earlier today, I asked for some help in convincing my friend, er, Nils to dispense with a dubious SEO company. Thanks to everybody who offered suggestions. Here’s the email I sent to my misguided friend:
Before committing to any particular SEO strategy, you want to ask a lot of specific questions about the nature of the company’s approach. Julie mentioned that you’re paying an SEO company to include you in a series of ‘directories’. This, to me, sounds a lot like link farming, which, of course, is a form of spamdexing. Why is this bad?
- Most importantly, search engines frown on it. To quote the article I linked to: “Search engine operators consider link farms an abuse and attempt to detect them, to remove them from their indices or penalize their content rank.” These strategies can get you banned from Google and Yahoo.
- That’s right: banned. To quote from Google’s guidelines for webmasters: Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or ‘bad neighbourhoods’ on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.”
- This sort of SEO strategy is an eternal moving target. First, search engines constantly change, and an ingenuine SEO approach must keep up with it. You may recall a time a few short years ago when meta tags were the best strategy for SEO. Today, they’re basically useless.
- At the same time, you need to continue to pay the SEO company. As soon as you stop, any advantage you’ve bought goes away.
- This constant battle to ‘game’ the search engines keeps the SEO companies rich, and may not, in the long run, have much of an upside for you. On the other hand, you’re risking deleterious effects to your site’s long-term health.
What’s the foolproof way to do SEO, that the search engines will always like?
- Create relevant content on your site. As we’ve discussed, blogs and forums are great ways to do this.
- Engage with the online community, fostering incoming links.
- Write good copy, and uses effective (relevant) naming techniques for your files, domain, title tags, and header tags.
If you don’t believe me (and trust me, I’m just quoting a bunch of experts), here’s a sneak peak at Capulet’s web stats. See the steady growth over the last year? That’s all due to our weblog. If you drill down, you’ll see that it currently receives roughly four times the number of hits as the home page. I see a similar pattern in clients who have added blogs to their site.