BEATING THE SEO HUSTLE – Nine is the number of emails I’ve received today from so-called ‘SEO professional’ companies all attempting to lure me with the offer of a No.1 position on Google search for any keywords of my choosing.
Anyone who has run a website for more than a few days will know that the key to online success, that is obtaining high levels of organic traffic per month, is the coveted No.1 position in Google search for a particular set of keywords or key phrases.
The relentless plethora of emails attaining to such glory should set off the initial alarm bells ringing; especially if you don’t have your email address published on your website but rather a contact form.
This automatically indicates that you’ve just been the victim of ‘spam mail’. Oh yes, the person sending you their lofty promises often puts in a disclaimer pertaining to the electronic communication not being spam and that it complies with the CAN-SPAM Act but of course it doesn’t because you already know, or should, that your email address has been obtained using deceptive means.
The second give-away to a spammer is the fact that their email address uses Gmail, Yahoo Mail or one of the other multiple free email services available online. No reputable company is ever going to email you using such an address; they would have their own address and indeed a website for you to view with the services they offer.
I don’t like to speak ill of any particular race, creed or colour but a spade is a spade and you’ll quickly discover that the plague of SEO emails generally comes from India.
I know quite a few Indian guys and even they complain about the amount of spam mail, regarding SEO services, they receive from India. How do we know they are from India? The fact is most don’t bother to hide it and will even openly declare such information within the body text of the email; it goes something like … ‘We are a team of 85 highly professional SEO specialists based in India, blah, blah, blah.’
These guys are not stupid; that is they’ve obtained a vast list of email addresses, generally running into the millions, and blast out the same rhetoric in order to catch a fish.
Some of them will take your money and run others will use questionable SEO tactics, known as ‘Black Hat’ techniques to drive your website up the rankings, get paid for doing so and then leave.
All might appear well until Google finally cottons on to what you are doing and then penalises your website. A penalty can range from a slap on the wrist and a loss of rankings to a complete an utter thrashing whereby your website is no longer indexed – in the latter scenario you’re website will get about as much activity as a merchant selling sand in the Mojave desert.
The Holy Grail of SEO is to slowly but surely move up through the Search Engine Ranking Positions (SERPS) organically and there are several ways in which to achieve this goal through what is commonly referred to as ‘White Hat’ SEO techniques.
The question on most new website owner’s minds is what the hell does Google want? After all the perception here is that Google uses well over 200 algorithms to determine a pages position in the search results and most are familiar with, even if they don’t fully understand what they entail, certain algorithms such as Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird.
It’s a puzzle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma and trying to break the code appears impossible; although that’s how most people perceive Google’s algorithms.
If you care to read through Google’s Webmaster Tools guidelines (see here) you will quickly realise that much of the mystery surrounding SEO is really not that mysterious or indeed complicated; in fact the rules are pretty clear.
Google doesn’t ask you to do anything out of the ordinary in order to obtain high rankings, the truth is all they want is for you to provide something interesting other web users like and like enough to warrant sharing it; of course this should be your goal but Google provides an incentive by offering higher rankings and therefore more traffic if you can achieve this goal.
Sharing on the web has become a natural action; that is if a user really likes what you have provided they will share that web page with their friends through multiple social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and many others.
The sharing of content sends ‘social signals’ to Google and providing the quantity is great enough it can then determine the worth or ‘relevancy’ of the page and therefore award it a higher placement within the search results for the keywords or key phrases within the article.
It’s really that simple; there’s no big secret, it’s not really shrouded in a great deal of mystery you simply have to produce content people love and most of all love to share.
The downside to this process is that it can take a very long time; we’re talking years here and very few websites become an online sensation overnight.
The answer to this is to turn to SEO services in order to help ramp up your rankings a little quicker.
One such SEO method is ‘link building’ although be aware for Google have made it perfectly clear that they frown upon website owners who buy ‘back-links’ in order to artificially increase their rankings. Google has time and time again provided webmaster with information that they are able to detect unnatural back-links and any website caught doing so will receive a severe penalty in their rankings.
Link building is an acceptable practice but you need to be careful how you go about it for there are certain pitfalls. For more information on link building take a look at the video below.
As you will learn from the video above obtain higher rankings in Google is all about generating content that grows organically for this will in time organically produce back-links and the quality of such links. This is turn sends signals back to Google which tells its algorithms that your content is favoured by many people and therefore Google is happy to increase your rankings and deliver more people to view such content.
The danger with web start-ups is that they often get frustrated as to why only a handful of people are visiting their website on a daily basis; most are just friends and family members but the site remains devoid of any real organic traffic.
Rome wasn’t built in a day but it certainly burnt down a lot quicker than it was built; the same principle applies to your website in that if you try to force rankings you’ll end up getting burned.
There are lots of people out there offering all manner of SEO services. Avoid at all costs engaging in any type of service from those spamming your email box. Also avoid those offering guaranteed No.1 Rankings on Google for this could end up being either ‘Black Hat’ disguised as ‘White Hat’ or that the keywords and key phrases used are so weak that few or no users will ever use such in their search activities to find your website.
Another issue is ‘Pay for Results’. For a long time people have been crying out for SEO experts to work on a ‘pay for results’ only basis. The arguments for and against such a service is wide and varied but often play out that SEO is about longevity and sustainability and a ‘pay for results’ system is more attune to a hit and run resulting in the rankings collapsing shortly afterwards.
Generally a professional SEO service will not offer you any guarantees; after all how could they, they don’t own Google and therefore have no direct input.
What you are looking for is a long-term deal; think of SEO as being a business partnership and one that works on trust and of course realistic goals.
SEO is generally not cheap; well it’s not cheap from the professionals for they know just how much work it takes to lift a websites ranking position through natural progression; and this is the key to creating rankings with longevity.
If you can’t afford to employ the services of an SEO professional then try doing the work yourself; that is actively engage in forums and other websites and leave comments and links to relevant content within the discussion.
Beware that you don’t spam a forum or website comment section for this will quickly ruin your reputation and likely get you listed as a spammer; most systems are now able to easily block IP addresses that have been seen to spam their systems.
Tip: Try asking for permission. I once wanted to post a link on a news board but I refrained from doing so because I had never left a message on their before; this was regardless to the fact that the article I intended to link to was highly relevant to the issue and certainly added to it significantly.
Most forum users get really miffed at newbies posting links, so instead of just wading in I contacted the forum’s administrator and it paid off in spectacular fashion for he posted the link for me. The result… 9,118 unique visitors in less than 12 hours – now that rocks!
There are now a number of freelancer websites offering start-ups a route to cheaper online services; these include peopleperhour.com and fivver.com.
These services are fine per se but you need to be diligent. Avoid buying services that offer to increase the number of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or the other social networks.
Mostly these are fake accounts or accounts that are basically abandoned. Yes they well may add a few thousand followers to your social network but you’ll get diddly in the way of social interaction which is the whole point in getting followers in the first place.
Another pitfall is buying in traffic. Some of it is completely legitimate in that is it simple advertising. However, for one legitimate source there’s probably ten or more that are not and therefore the traffic you receive will visit your website for a split second sending your page views per person plummeting along with user time on-site whilst your bounce rate goes towards the moon.
Note that Google analystics gives you a clue as to how well your website will be ranking in Google search. If you can see that people don’t like the content you produce you can be assured Google knows it too and therefore your rankings will be adjusted accordingly.
The bottom line is you simply have to look carefully at what Google tells you… that being to create outstanding content that your visitors will love and share.
It takes time… most website owners give up only after a few months as it’s demoralising to see so few people visiting each day after all the hard work and effort it takes to create content on a daily basis.
I’ll let you into a little secret… I started meebal.com just 14 months ago. We’ve had odd days, such as mentioned in the tip above, where traffic has been high. I know that some of my competitors get millions of people a day whereas I get on average about 2,500; but again this fluctuates rapidly depending on the articles produced each day.
Each day I sit at my computer for approximately 14 hours. I produce five or more articles a day and then spend the rest of the time researching and helping my sites rankings. In the 14 months I’ve been doing this I have never taken a day off work and it’s unlikely I’ll be able to do so for at least another year.
The point here is that running a website takes a vast amount of dedication and patience but like all things in life if you enjoy what you do it makes the task so much easier.
Just remember the ‘get rich quick’ schemes only make those selling them rich; for the rest of us we have to just pull up our bootstraps and get to work.
If you are looking for more information on SEO then try moz.com – these guys have been around for a very long time and are noted for their SEO insights and expertise.
It’s worth undertaking a Google search on the areas of back-links, Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird algorithms for this will certainly help you further understand how SEO works as a whole and the pitfalls to avoid.
What else can I say but … good luck with your web venture.