Is Your Search Engine Optimization Provider Ethical?

Fierce competition has made some ‘White Hat’ SEO service providers compromise their values. Here is why that will not end up well for your business.

“White Hat” SEO is universally known to be the gold standard in search engine optimization. But what does that mean – for your website and, ultimately, your business?

Well, the common definition of White Hat SEO is the use of optimization strategies, techniques and tactics that focus on a human audience vs. trying to “trick” search engines into pushing your business up the rankings. In my experience it really means using “ethical” search engine optimization that involves above board techniques and strategies which should both please humans and help your business to rise in search engine ranking.

A White Hat SEO provider takes the time to learn about your business in order to optimize your site, app and profiles. Alternatively, a “Black Hat” SEO provider uses tricks and workarounds that are overly focused on search engine rules and policies. The ‘Black Hat’ method may garner high search engine placements temporarily but often carry penalties from search engines that can really set you back in terms of rank and traffic.

Unfortunately, a vast majority of SEO service providers have tossed White Hat methods and taken up Black Hat optimization schemes – and, in some cases they’ve kept that information from their clients. How do I know this? The past few years I’ve spoken with several White Hat SEOs in my area (I believe in hiring locally) because I thinking about outsourcing this aspect of my business.

Each time, as I questioned the SEO provider, the answers went from ok to bad to worse. Basically, the person I was talking to started by saying yes to the question about providing strictly White Hat SEO services and by the end was admitting to being “Grey Hat”; and in my opinion “Black Hat.”

Beam Me Up Scotty!

There is nothing ethical about claims of “generating hundreds of links to your website.” This is just another method of trying to “game” the system. If you look at a lot of website’s long-term trends you’ll see a big drop in performance every time Google makes an algorithm change. That’s because Black Hat SEO methods rely on tricking the algorithm. In some cases recovery is very quick. In others it is a damaging blow that takes months to recuperate from.

Why do you need to know about White Hat vs. Grey Hat vs. Black Hat SEO?

Obviously, if you want long-term success you should focus on improving your ranking through ethical means. The problem for SEO companies is that it is hard to make money if you can’t provide instant results and justify a steep monthly payment.

A side note: paying for ads has nothing to do with SEO. That is SEM (search engine marketing). Yes, it is likely that paying for ads can help your organic performance through name recognition and possibly even favoritism by search engines.

While hiring a White Hat SEO is usually best for gaining more business, it is possible for you to put on your own “White Hat.” Here are some guidelines:

9 Tips For DYI White Hat SEO

  1. Spend time coming with a list of keywords that apply to your business and create a strategy around them.

Creating an effective keyword strategy starts by asking and answering the following questions:

    1. What keywords (phrases) matter most for your business?
    2. Are there any long tail (three or four word) keyword phrases that are easy wins for your business?
    3. Do you have any niches where you can really shine?
    4. Is there an area where your business excels that isn’t really addressed by your competitors?
  1. Most importantly, content is still king. You absolutely must have quality content or your website will not rank for any useful keyword phrases.
  2. Make sure your website is organized in a way that prioritizes your keyword phrases
  3. Similarly, quality product and impeccable customer service is a must because people like to write reviews, both positive and negative.
  4. Create a complete profile on Google My Business and make sure you ask for reviews. However, be aware that negative reviews, anywhere on the Internet, can cost your business tremendously so you better have impeccable customer service.
  5. Include a substantial number of pictures on your website that represent your products and services and describe them carefully, with text that directly explains what the picture is about (Alternative Text).
  6. Look for someone in your industry or a related industry who is willing to link to your website. Get as many legitimate links to your website as possible. This is actually very challenging. The best sources for links to your website are industry associations, vendors that expect you to distribute their product, strategic partners and Chambers of Commerce.
  7. Engage with social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter by blogging and writing articles. To do this you must have an effective keyword strategy to employ in your posts.
  8. Finally, you will need to measure your performance. There are many, many tools available to make this a lot easier than mastering Google Analytics. You can work with an SEO provider who has access to them or if you want you can even invest in the tools yourself by doing some research.

Contact Us if you want more information or an SEO Consultation.

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