Unfortunately, many people associate SEO with spam. This association probably dates to the very beginning of SEO. In the 1990s, as the Internet became a part of our daily lives, many keen entrepreneurs recognized the value of online marketing. Compared to traditional marketing--on radio and TV, or in the pages of local newspapers or magazines--online marketing revealed itself to be convenient, more effective, and much less costly.
The cost of online marketing was especially attractive. For many entrepreneurs who learned about website optimization, SEO was free. By "free" we mean, simply, that SEO was not paid advertising. Indeed, then as now, if you're willing to learn SEO and perform the rigorous work of website optimization, you can achieve a higher placement on most search engines, attracting hundreds, even thousands, of new visitors every day.
Unfortunately, this scenario was not necessarily profitable for search engines. And as the effectiveness of SEO became more apparent, search engines developed a paid alternative: Pay Per Click (PPC). With PPC, website owners pay for each click delivered to their website by a search engine's own advertising.
PPC created a new environment online, and may have inadvertently increased spam. With the advent of PPC, most websites, regardless of quality, could now pay for clicks. At the same time, PPC made the challenge of SEO all the more apparent. Yes, we learned that SEO was free, but it required knowledge and a studious devotion to detail. In other words, SEO required a major time commitment.
In this way, SEO is the exact opposite of spam. Spam requires no knowledge, is often completely inattentive to detail, and requires no time commitment.
So how, at the very beginning, did SEO become associated with spam?
Then as now the challenge of performing the work of website optimization, without paying for PPC, was simply too time-consuming for many website owners. Dispirited by the system, many began to turn to dark practices. Unfortunately, Black Hat SEO has been around for as long as organic SEO.
As we wrote in another post, "The Death of SEO":
"Thankfully, this practice is increasingly irrelevant, but Black Hat SEO has proved effective in the past. Techniques such as keyword stuffing, link schemes, and the creation of duplicate content continue to haunt the Internet, compromising businesses and personal users alike"
We failed to mention one egregious Black Hat practice in that post: spam. Indeed, spam is now the provenance of those who understand the basics of SEO, but who have very little respect for knowledge, detail, or time commitment.
On its Webmaster Tools "help" page entitled "Do You Need an SEO?", Google cites an email from a spammer that is just plain ridiculous (and funny):
"Dear google.com, I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories..."
"Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue," Google warns. "Amazingly, we get these spam emails too. Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for 'burn fat at night' diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators."
No one really takes spam seriously. Unfortunately, since spam is so often associated with SEO, many website owners do not take SEO seriously. But, if we may, we'd like to use the hyperbolic language of span, to prove a point: If you're a website owner, this simple mistake could doom your business. If performed correctly and with integrity, SEO is, indeed, serious business. A good SEO campaign means the difference between success and failure.
So how do you find a good search engine optimization specialist. Why not trust Google? We suggest asking any potential specialist the following questions from Google:
- Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
- Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
- Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
- What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe?
- How do you measure your success?
- What's your experience in my industry?
- What's your experience in my country/city?
- What's your experience developing international sites?
- What are your most important SEO techniques?
- How long have you been in business?
- How can I expect to communicate with you?
- Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?
We believe this blog is a testament to Alex's integrity. After all, our mission is to offer knowledge, with a studious attention to detail. This work, of course, takes time, but we believe we're fighting a good fight against dark practices like spam.
If you're serious about website performance we suggest calling Alex: 215-900-9398.
We list this number, of course, to promote Alex, but also to offer a resource for any questions you might have about SEO.