How do you spot a black hat SEO before they take your money, mess up your site in order to artificially create rankings, and run? Finding a reputable SEO firm can be hard, so here’s some tips on how not to get taken for a ride by a black hatter.
1. A legitimate SEO will be VERY specific about what they can do for you, and not afraid to answer questions about how they intend to accomplish those goals. SEO is no huge mystery – it’s hard work done from learning acquired over years of experience, and most people hire it out because they don’t have the time or expertise – not because they are really too stupid to understand it themselves or because all the keys and secrets are held by gurus. It’s like hiring a cook to make you a gourmet French meal every night. You could probably learn to do it yourself, but it would take forever and you have other priorities.
2. A legitimate SEO will not offer canned guarantees such as ‘I will get your neam ranked #1 on Google’ – it’s easy to get ranked for a name, but who will be looking for Hubert’s Pet Emporium in a search? You need to rank for keyword phrases like ‘pet shop Seattle’. Don’t be fooled by ‘top on Google’ promises that aren’t worth their weight in chalk dust.
3. A legitimate SEO will link build properly. They won’t hook you up with mass link projects, and they won’t buy links. If an SEO tells you that you will be getting links but it will cost you XX per link, make sure you are paying for research and actual link placing, not paying for links. Links should also be coming from high PR sites, so demand a report of links and where they come from to ensure they are good backlinks.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. A good SEO will not be ashamed of their work. They won’t be working their way around finding loopholes to exploit. On the contrary, they’ll be a little proud of themselves, and willing to vouch that the work they do will stand up to the test of time.
If you hire an SEO, see an amazing boost in your SERPs rankings and traffic, then three months later your sudden spike in traffic and good rankings tank, well… you just got taken for what was probably an expensive ride, and need to look hard at your site to ensure they didn’t use any tactics that culd get you banned!
Blackhat SEO tactics like spamming, cloaking, link buying or selling and keyword stuffing might work short term, but will never get you where you relaly need to be or keep you there. Hire a reputable SEO firm with a slow and steady approach, and build your site the right way with SEO that lasts.