Not only are there a lot of misconceptions about how best to design your site for search engines, but there is a large misconception about SEO in general. There are those in the tech community that think SEO is a bunch of tricks and that all SEOs are unethical scammers who trick search engines into putting irrelevant and spammy sites at the top of a search engine results page. And there are those small business owners who own legitimate businesses but are willing to participate in questionable SEO practices in order to get to the top.
Why is SEO seen as this strange gray area where otherwise upright citizens are willing to pay extra to “fool” the search engines and gain some short term profits? Maybe it’s because SEO is seen as a way to trick a machine or an algorithm—not a human—thus it’s not really hurting anyone. On the contrary, bad SEO practices hurt us all in the form of ineffective search results. The more black-hat SEOs are out there, the worse the search engine results will be.
The truth of the matter is that SEO is the art of building a site and a marketing campaign that will garner positive and genuine endorsements from users and search engines. It is the technique of building a trusted site that is easy to find when people are searching for it. In fact, good SEO practices are not meant to rocket you to the top of the search results in a week. Real SEO is about building long-term value and traffic so that your site won’t get penalized by Google and won’t drop off the map whenever Google changes their algorithm.
When we discuss black-hat SEO, we’re really not talking about SEO at all. What were talking about are scams. Scammers fool both the search engines (temporarily) and their clients into thinking that SEO is a quick fix and that it is a miracle. However, that house of cards is very delicate and can come crashing down at any moment, creating large consequences and loss of profit for the company employing such tactics.
The simple fact is that real SEO works because it builds SEO through multiple channels and avenues. It builds real name recognition and value for users, so that if anything in the Google algorithm or tools change, your site SEO won’t be affected.
Why do people still want to employ scam practices? In reality, scams work in the short term, but they are expensive to implement. Scams are for businesses that don’t want to put the time and effort into building a valuable website. On the other hand, SEO builds long-terms success and traffic.
There are a number of reasons and techniques why scams don’t work and SEO does:
1) SEO is cheaper
As mentioned before, scams will work in the short term, but they will cost you. Many scam campaigns are double or quadruple the cost of real SEO. The cost will get you results quickly, but that level of success is extremely hard to maintain, and may completely crumble if Google decides to change it’s algorithm. In the long-run, real SEO is cheaper, less stressful, and will bring you lasting success.
2) SEO is cool
Name me any scam website that you go to regularly. You can’t do it. Most users know how to spot a scammy website and they’ll avoid them. Bounce rates for scammy websites are huge, but building a lasting SEO strategy will keep people coming back for more, creating long-term users and customers. Simply put, scams are uncool and people don’t want to be involved with websites that use those types of tactics. Scams usually come and go quickly and never make a lasting impression.
3) SEO is risk-free
When you build a real SEO campaign, you‘ll never have to worry about updates to Google’s algorithm, because you’ll be building traffic the right way. With a scam you’ll always be worried that one shift in the search engine world will cut off all your traffic (and revenue). This happened recently with the farmer update, where thousands of content farming websites—sites that had scammed their way to the top—suddenly found themselves shunned and thrown to the bottom of the heap, costing those companies millions of views and millions of dollars. When you get involved in a scam, you’re only building short-term traffic that won’t last if the wind changes direction.
4) SEO throws a wider net
One of the reasons scams work so well is that they will target one form of SEO and go after it aggressively. They channel all their money into one tactic that is meant to get them to the top. We all know this kind of tactic is not sustainable. After a while, Google will catch on and shut it down, or simply change their algorithm, leaving a scam website in the dust. On the other hand, real SEO builds SEO juice through multiple channels and good-old-fashioned popularity. Real SEO creates real value for real users. And, ultimately, users are the one who will help your website rise to the top, so they are the ones you want to target the most. If you are making users happy, you’ll be making search engines happy and building your SEO at the same time.
When it all comes down to it, SEO supports long-term growth and success, while scams don’t. If you want to build authority and a good reputation for your brand, only use the right SEO tactics to get you to the top.
Updated 11/15/2019 by Ben Smith
Ben Smith is a Researcher at Fruition, specializing in Google's Algorithm changes. Ben is a graduate of the University of Denver’s Mathematics program, and he enjoys learning about Google’s search algorithm updates. He's a vital asset of the Fruition team, and he one day hopes to publish a book. In his free time, you can find Ben enjoying the outdoors of Colorado.
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