SEO, the practice of “optimizing” your Web content in order to achieve higher rankings on search engines like Google and Yahoo!, has become popular among many Web-based businesses. SEO providers make changes to site content, links and code in order to make sure search engines can read your site accurately, often resulting in a better rank. But remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is –no company can “guarantee” that you’ll be the number - one result on Google for popular keywords 100% of the time. Companies that do usually deal in shady practices that can actually get your Web site banned from popular search engine results pages.
Here are a few SEO practices to stay away from:
Cloaking refers to code changes that indicate one thing to search engines but provide totally different content to users. For example, Web programmers can write code that makes a search engine think your Web site is taking charitable donations for an international organization, when in fact your site sells internationally produced counterfeit handbags. Cloaking is usually a red flag that a site (or company) is up to no good and Google is always on the lookout for sites dealing in illegal activities in order to ban them from search results pages. Even if your business is legitimate, cloaking can get you banned.
Keyword Stuffing and Hiding Copy
Don’t stuff your site full of irrelevant keywords – the search engines catch on fast if copy isn’t written in natural language or if totally unrelated keywords are used. Some sites hide these keywords on pages by using a font the same color as the background, so users get different copy than the search engines. Both of these practices are pretty easy to spot for the sophisticated computers used by search engines – the benefits just aren’t worth the risk.
Using a Competitor’s Name
Don’t overload your site with the names of major companies or competitors in order to divert some of their traffic to your site. Customers will be confused and angry when the site isn’t what they’re looking for and you could get blacklisted from all the major search engines – not to mention being sued by the competitor whose traffic you try to steal.
It’s never a good idea to “borrow” text or copy from another site. Not only does this often violate copyright laws, it will also get you kicked out of search engine rankings. Write your own content or make sure copy is totally different if you’re addressing the same subjects as competitors.
When it comes to SEO, quick and easy fixes like those above are almost always a bad idea. Make sure you preserve your reputation (and search engine ranking) by engaging in honest and reputable SEO practices. Resource Nation provides online and offline resources for entrepreneurs and small businesses. From how to information about online marketing to Web design, Resource Nation also helps businesses select and choose vendors in over 100 categories from search engine optimization to Web designers.