I'm sorry to say, that in my profession, there are dishonest people who take advantage of business owners. They often call themselves SEO or Google experts, and will offer to place your website in the No. 1 spot (or the first page) of Google's search results for a certain keyword.
These people are crooks and you would do well to avoid them.
It's not that they don't deliver on their promise to get you to the top position in Google's search engine, as they often do. But there's a lot of fine print you need to watch out for. What's more, the methods they use to get your website highly ranked in search engines are often unethical, at best, and can actually damage your brand's reputation in the long run.
But how does SEO work, and why is it dangerous to rely on the help of a so-called SEO expert?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It's the process of making your website search-engine friendly, so that search engines like Google can easily examine your content and determine what keywords it should rank your website for. A keyword is a term a person enters into a search engine. For example, if someone entered in the search term "pizza" into Google's search engine, Google would return what it has determined to be the most relevant results for that keyword.
Unfortunately, despite its sophistication, Google's search bots just aren't as smart as humans, so it's easy to trick them into thinking that poor quality content is relevant and useful. These "SEO experts" I mentioned before know this perfectly well, and they exploit this technological weakness to ensure that the websites they want to rank highly do get ranked in the top positions in Google.
They do this with a wide variety of spamming techniques, all the way from article spinning (using software to change content to make Google think it's unique) to blasting online forums with thousands of spammy links, pointing to your website. This whole process can take weeks, sometimes even months, before it yields any results.
On top of that, there's no way to be sure that you'll get the results you want. Ranking for a keyword like "Utah restaurant" might sound nice, but what if you're a pizza place in Ogden and the searcher is in Provo looking for a place for breakfast? You may like the idea of ranking for something like "best pizza place in ogden," but what if no one is searching for that keyword phrase?
When you rely solely on Google to get new customers to your website, you're playing a fool's game. There are much better ways of attracting new visitors to your website that do not involve manipulating Google's search algorithm. And yes, it is possible to attain high search engine rankings in Google without resorting to unethical SEO tactics.
One such way is to simply sign up as an Adwords advertiser and bid for keywords. Doing this, you can get on the front page of Google for just about any keyword in as little as a day.
I hope after reading this article, you will reconsider relying on SEO as your primary method of generating web traffic.
Joshua Rigley is an online marketing consultant living in Layton. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.