What Colour is Your Hat?

March 30, 2011

We receive a lot of questions from businesses in Courtenay, Parksville, and Nanaimo about SEO and what it’s all about. When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), using so-called “black hat” techniques to get your website ranked higher can get you into a lot of hot water - and let’s face it, hats don’t look good when they’re wet and they almost never fully recover their previous shape.

Companies like JCPenny and BMW are two famous examples where Google caught them doing nefarious tricks (such as link spamming) and Google struck back. In the case of JCPenny, its rankings were lowered in Google’s search results and in the case of BMW, Google completely removed its listings from search results for a period of time. How much would it cost your business if you were removed from Google’s search results?

The best way to avoid being banned from Google’s search results and improve your search engine rankings is to play by their rules. Google offers some general SEO guidelines and even a Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide that covers some of the basic do’s and don’ts (with some very cute Googlebot illustrations).

But if you’re not tech-savvy and have no time or interest, you may want to hire a reputable marketing or SEO company. So how do you spot the black hat wearing offenders? Don’t be afraid to ask a potential provider how they achieve high rankings with their clients and ask for references. Be very wary of anyone that guarantees #1 placement, especially if they email your company out of the blue. Funnily enough, even Google gets these spam emails:

"Dear google.com,
I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories..."

Whether you try a few things on your own or enlist the help of an experienced SEO professional, be patient - expect the process to take some time and effort. The best techniques may take a bit of time, but they’ll lead to a longer-lasting SEO success for your company.

P.S. Our staff wear a variety of hats - but never wear black ones to work.

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