There are many reasons why you may not be using inbound marketing channels (such as SEO, blogging, social media, and newsletters) to drive leads.
You might have tried, got burned, and given up. I hear it all the time. Trust me, it’s not that inbound marketing is not working for you, it’s the other way around; you haven’t made it work for you.
Or…you might have gotten in trouble with Google for being irresponsible. Examples include outsourcing your SEO to Philippines that guaranteed to ‘get you on top of Google for 10 keywords’ for a couple hundred bucks. Do you think ’outsmarting’ thousands of Ivey league Google engineers is worth couple hundred bucks if the offer was legit?
In a recent podcast on SteamFeed Radio I talked about the many ways brands and bloggers can get in trouble with Google. SEO is a billion dollar industry, black hat SEOs get you in trouble with Google, and white hat SEOs get you out of trouble. You end up paying double, and moving backwards.
Here is what Stephen C. Baldwin, Author of ‘Net Slaves: True Tales of Working the Web,’ (McGraw-Hill) and Editor-in-Chief at Didit had to say on the topic:
I’ve had a chance to interview a number of SEO spammers in my career as a journalist. Sadly, they all share an obsession with fast money, contempt for the searchers tricked into consuming their low-quality content, and the strangely irrational belief that they’ll always be able to operate outside the reach of the law.
Today, however, the “Wild West Era of SEO” is over, a new sheriff is in town, and civilization is about to arrive on the search frontier. The good news is that marketers who are using smart SEO approach will actually profit much more over time than those using the crude, risky optimization tactics of the past.
Here is one of readers’ favorite chapters of my recent book: “SEO Like I’m 5: The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization.”
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly About SEO
Over the years, SEO ‘practitioners’ have contributed to a massive amount of spam and poor quality content on the web.
They broke directories, stuffed content with keywords, spammed the comments on blogs, and bought and traded links in order to game Google’s algorithm and push mediocre content toward the top in keyword rankings. Well, it was bad, and sometimes ugly, but it worked! I often call this period the ‘Wild West Era’ of SEO.
The Wild West Era of SEO
Until 2011, when Google released its first major anti-spam algorithm called Panda, you got on top of Google by buying links and banging out tons of low-quality content.
Those days are over. Recent Google algorithm updates, both Panda and Penguin, rendered most of the old SEO tactics obsolete.
You still need to understand how the search algorithm works to make your content perform on Google or on Facebook’s Graph Search. The game change is that, as marketers, we can’t be merely concerned about the ‘keyword.’ Instead, we must optimize our content to relate to ‘who’ typed it into the search box.
Google’s algorithm is essentially a machine trying hard to think like a human. Thus social signals, author authority, and any type of user engagement metrics are becoming a big part of how Google decides what goes on the top.
Don’t try to game Google; you cannot (in a long run at least). Google has thousands of PhDs from the best engineering schools in the world working for it day in day out. Who are you to challenge it? Rather, focus on the end user – the human being – which is what Google’s algorithm is trying to do.
Instead of chasing Google’s algorithm, get in front it. Put the user first. Tweet this if you agree with a hashtag #SEOLike5.
In 2014 and beyond, marketers need to align their keyword strategy along the user journey, emphasizing the connection between content and intent (i.e. keyword) through methodical audience profiling, research, and analysis.
The Good: White Hat SEO
The key to SEO success is to focus on quality: quality optimization, quality content,and quality relationships! With quality on your side, both users and the algorithms will be on your side as well.
Quality Optimization. Optimizing your website to help search engine spiders understand what your content is about through on-site technical SEO.
Quality Content. Creating valuable content for your target users that is both shareworthy and linkworthy.
Quality Relationships. Building strong relationships with others in your industry through social media to amplify your content and improve your chances of gaining valuable backlinks to your website.
The Bad: Black Hat SEO
There are many SEO companies and consultants for whom time stopped in 2011. Every second, as we speak, a new business gets sold on $200 hassle-free SEO packages guaranteed to get them on the top pages of Google for a number of keywords. Do you really believe in fairy tales? There is no such thing as a free lunch in SEO.
The end result is often more harm than benefit if any of the following practices are involved:
Buying Links. Participating in any type of link schemes or farms. Paying for links is a major violation of Google’s terms of service.
Acquiring poor quality links. Creating hundreds of low-quality backlinks manually through directory submissions and commenting. Google knows better; you should too.
Article spinning. Rewriting and publishing low-quality content at scale across the Web. Those links are garbage.
The Ugly: SEO Spam
There are many forms of spam that the shady Internet element of hackers and unethical SEOs thought of over the years. It’s a big problem for Google, which is constantly trying to filter its search results from spam.
You can get flagged for spamming and get thrown out of Google’s index for practicing any of the below spammy SEO tactics:
Fake accounts, reviews or comments. You can also get sued and fined.
Content spam. These techniques involve keyword stuffing, doorway pages, or hidden or invisible text straight from the 1990s playbook.
Spam blogs. Blogs built on stolen, duplicate content with thousands of useless web pages. These sites exist only for monetization and provide no value to the user.
Do you do SEO on your website? Have you ever got burnt by the black hat tactics? What’s your experience with Google?
Share your experience in the comments below.
This post an excerpt from my recent book: “SEO Like I’m 5: The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization.” Originally published on The Next Web.