Shady SEO Tricks Can Have Lasting Consequences

Thu, Dec 11, 2008

Black Hat & Spamming

We all know about skeletons in the closet that can pop out years later and have potentially destructive consequences on one’s career.  What’s true in real life is also true on the SEO front – if you aren’t careful when taking on new projects and clients you can have a lot of their “skeletons” falling out of virtual closet with you left to try and stuff them all back in.

Ask yourself this:  When a new client or project comes along how well do you research what has been done marketing and SEO-wize before you came along?  Many of us leave ourselves wide open to walk into sites and work with clients whose shady search engine optimization practices of the past are haunting them – and you are left to take the blame!

So how do you protect yourself, your company and your good name when it comes to SEO?  Like anything else in life you need to make sure you perform due diligence of new clients. This isn’t as hard as you might think, and taking a few minutes up front can save you a lot of headaches down the road.

The beauty of this is you can turn this due diligence into a saleable product for your company.  Many times a client will come to you wondering why their site has fallen off the search engine radar, or why sales have plummeted suddenly.  You can sell them on SEO forensics – or as I like to call it “WTF happened to SEO!”

Start looking at SEO from the inside out – what are they doing on their site with links and what do the search engines know about the site?  You want to find out how they link to themselves internally, what is hiding behind the web pages (the code), and what Google and the other guys have in their index.  All of these tasks are simple to perform.  You are pretty much doing a very basic site analysis.  Something you should be doing for every client.

Next start looking for cloaking – the practice of the search engines indexing one thing and the page displaying another.  This practice has no place in proper SEO and should be rooted out and eliminated.  The best way to do this is by “pretending” you are a search engine index bot (there are a number of Firefox extensions and other scripts that can help with this) and see the site the same way the bots do.

Finally, look at backlinks; you will find most of the time that deceptive linking practices are one of the most common shady SEO practices that have been used over the years.  You want to look at everything from anchor text to sponsored links and everything in between.  How many links coming to the site are from low-quality sites, like spam blogs?  Are there hidden links on the site?  Does the same link show up over and over on the site?  Root out these bad links and eliminate them – especially the links from low-quality sites.

You want to use your SEO skills to perform a “smell test” of the site.  You’d be amazed at how much you can pick up just by a quick review.  Over time you will know what to look for and will be able to spot shady SEO practices a mile away.

In the end, your business and your clients will appreciate your efforts and skills.  Instead of battling the ghosts of bad SEO past you’ll be helping your client list move forward with modern, acceptable SEO techniques.

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This post was written by:

Cassiano Travareli - who has written 90 posts on SEO Blog | SEO Marketing World.

SEO Specialist! Loves everything about Search Engine Marketing.