Last updated on November 23rd, 2011
One question that swirls around out there is whether SEO – short for search engine optimization – is considered to be spam by Google.
A recent video from the head of Google’s Webspam team, Matt Cutts, tries to answer this question. In short, no it isn’t. According to Cutts, all SEO basically means is making sure your pages are well represented in search results.
There are many legitimate, or ‘white hat,’ tactics SEO pros can use to help your pages rank high, including:
- Making sure pages are crawlable with good links
- Using strong keywords in site’s content. Words everyday people will use, not insider industry jargon
- Constructing a site that’s highly usable and has a design conducive to search engines
- Making your site loads fast, which is one of many of Google’s search ranking factors
- Building a good URL structure that’s easy to follow for both users and search engines
Using techniques like these and many others are considered to be okay by Google. Sites that follow these guidelines and build good quality that’s easily crawlable will, over time, see their organic rankings build.
However, there are ‘black hat’ techniques as they’re called that Google frowns upon. Sites who are caught using things like hack sites and keyword stuffing will be penalized severely by Google. Sometimes, these penalties are impossible to recover from.
The goal of Google is to return the best search results as possible for their users. If a searcher isn’t able to find the right information, they will start looking elsewhere for it. As the #1 search engine accounting for over 2/3 of searches online, Google has an interest in making sure it returns sites that are informative and relevant to what the searcher was looking for.
Matt explains (…correctly in our opinion) how search engine spiders are not smart enough yet to figure out what a site is about all on their own. Therefore, it’s the site owner’s job to ‘help’ the spider learn what your site is about…this at its core is where SEO comes in. In our experience, basic fundamentals are not addressed. A good SEO will fix these SEO fundamentals (…listed above), analyze site traffic, ROI and other important factors to keep your site’s rankings consistently high.
With that said, SEO is about building a site Google can crawl and index. If you hire a search engine optimization company to handle your site’s SEO, there shouldn’t be any secret as to what they’re doing. Your SEO should be open about what they’re doing to get your site to the top of search results.
If they’re not, you should go elsewhere for these services. If the SEO firm is employing ‘black hat’ techniques, your site and business will be the one who suffers, not the SEO firm who used the shady tactics.
If your site is penalized for employing nefarious techniques, it will take a long time for you to make up the lost ground. Meanwhile, the SEO firm will have taken a lot of your money and will not suffer the same consequence.
Watch the video below to learn more.
One lesson though to keep in mind in this situation – buyer beware!!