You have integrity in the way you run your own business, so you should naturally expect the same of any company you hire to further its growth. SEO is no exception. No matter what you’ve heard, never resign yourself to the idea that search engine optimization is a naturally unethical practice. However, it is important to avoid unethical SEO companies at all costs.
Examples of unethical SEO practices include:
- Low-quality, keyword-stuffed content – writing text that meets keyword percentage goals at the expensive of compelling, informative content
- Hidden text – making text the same color as the background so as to hide the visibility of keywords to visitors, but still make them readable to search engines
- Cloaking – returning different content results to search engines than the content that is actually on the site
- Unrealistic promises – giving clients guarantees of search engine placement within organic search results
Not only can you preserve the integrity of your business via ethical search engine optimization, but you can also ensure your website’s long-term SEO success. Here are some qualities of an ethical SEO company.
Adherence to webmaster guidelines
Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines publish guidelines that every webmaster should follow to make their website easy to find and navigate. It is essential that your SEO efforts follow these guidelines accordingly, and be careful not to do anything that violates these guidelines, since this can result in a penalty.
Quality, relevant, original content
The purpose of all search engines is to return results that best answer a user’s searches. This implies the necessity for your SEO to provide original content that is relevant to the searched keyword, presented in as compelling and easy-to-read manner as possible. This naturally necessitates the exclusion of keyword stuffing, which only serves to leave content void of informative, engaging context.
Natural link-building to and from quality sites
The more quality, relevant sites that link to yours, the more your site is perceived by search engines as a quality site by association. Fortunately, publishing quality content is the best means of naturally attracting quality links from quality sites. However, you’re bound to get links from sites you’d rather not be associated with. Watch out for these and make sure your SEO company disavows them as soon as possible.
Minimal keyword integration
Keywords and keyword phrases serve an important role in SEO by signaling to search engines that the content on your site is relevant to user searches. However, including an unnatural percentage of keywords in your text signals to search engines that your site is trying to cheat the system. Ethical SEO means keeping keyword integration to a minimum, using them only when they naturally occur, within context.
The more you know about search engine optimization, the better equipped you are to make informed choices about the direction of your SEO campaign. This education should not be limited to the beginning of your relationship with an SEO company, but should also include their active outreach to you regarding the ever-changing landscape of SEO and how you can respond accordingly.
Though a quality SEO company should be able to significantly improve your search engine ranking, steer clear of those that make unrealistic promises. While you can be guaranteed search engine placement via pay-per-click advertising (which should be a part of your overall internet marketing strategy), no guarantees can made as to where your site will show up in organic search results. That said, a promise that CAN be made is an SEO company’s promise to inform you of every possible ethical means of optimizing your site, then following through on these suggestions according to your agreed-upon SEO campaign.
At CyberMark, we’re in it to help you, the small business owner, succeed. Since our founding in 1994, we’ve helped hundreds of businesses throughout the country grow using digital marketing. We're a Better Business Bureau Ethics Awards winner, and many of our clients have been with us for more than 10 years. Contact us today to learn how we can improve your small business SEO.