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Ban cheap and nasty SEO!

What search optimization techniques have been deployed on your site and could they get you banned in Google?

When I first started optimization via search, Google didn’t even exist on the web. Nowadays you can get ‘SEO to go’ with your web design, PR, hosting, domain registration, and Big Mac.

But do the techniques implemented by your SEO provider on your site comply with the Google Quality Guidelines? Have you even read them or heard of them (google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769#3)?

The whole getting banned on Google thing reminds me of the hype around the millennium bug. Hype and hearsay. No one has an iota about what is good, what is bad, and what is on their own site.

While it took Google more than five years to actually list them, the Google Quality Guidelines fairly clearly state what you should and shouldn’t do. The problem is, many sites bend, flex, and even blatantly break the rules and continue to get good rankings. This doesn’t seem fair. So should you join the rule benders and breakers to get where you want or steer clear of these techniques and companies that deploy them?

Should you risk being expelled from the Garden of Eden (Google?). I think not.

The Google index algorithms will constantly change and what may not be filtered out today could be gone tomorrow. They call it the Google Dance – but over the years some algorithm updates have had more resemblance to a thrash metal onslaught than a waltz, particularly if all of your rankings disappear overnight.

Recently, I was asked to review a potential client’s site that the company had already invested a significant monthly fee on for an SEO solution. When I looked at the site I could see little evidence of SEO on-page optimization. What I did find was an automated script generating hundreds of URLs pointing to the same pages. Never would this be recommended to our clients, and ironically none of the natural rankings they had achieved could be attributed to this technique. But the business owner had no idea that this was even on his site.

The Head of Search at PayPerClick is religious in her fanaticism about sticking to ethical guidelines – she won’t even touch a site that has deployed any suspect techniques and has anger management issues when sites that do push the boundaries get rankings above good quality sites. Google now encourages people to report sites or companies that are attempting to trick or manipulate natural search rankings. It remains to be seen if this works.

Ultimately, the site owner is responsible for what is carried out. So watch your know-it-all web designer or webmaster, and bother to learn what techniques are being implemented on your site.

There is no reason to let your SEO provider add links on your homepage to their own site. They are being paid to optimize your site so why would you want to assist, free, in optimizing their site?

SEO solutions should provide quality content that adds value to the user experience. If your SEO provider isn’t offering any content optimization centered around conversions and offers guaranteed placements or positions, they are most likely relying on techniques that include ‘link farming’, ‘automated scripting’, ‘keyword stuffing’, ‘duplicated content’, and so on. Stop. Your site could end up ‘here today, but gone tomorrow. Stephen Murphy is head of the search at payperclick.net.au.

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