In This Chapter
• How to recognize bad SEO consultants
• The optimization techniques you should avoid
• The optimization tools you should avoid
• The smart alternative to tricking the system
The difference between being the first and 12,503rd match for key search queries in your business segment can be significant for your business and revenue stream. It's no surprise that an entire industry has cropped up to try and trick the system, to improve your search ranking, and help you garner more traffic through any means possible.
There's danger lurking around every corner of this treacherous jungle, however, because for every search engine-friendly modification you can make to the design and implementation of your business website, there's a trick that can backfire, lowering your ranking, or even getting you banned from the search engines completely.
The worst part is that the so-called search engine optimizer (SEO) consultants face considerably less risk than you do. If your site gets banned from Google, for example, they aren't adversely affected (indeed, their contract probably states that they're not responsible or liable for any adverse consequences of their SEO techniques utilized on your site) but your business is suddenly pushed out of the mall, off the grid, and invisible to all those potential customers.
Most web designers are uninformed about search engine optimization techniques, good or bad, but some have just enough knowledge to be dangerous. That's just as much a danger as hiring SEO consultants. The end results are still the same, and your site is still either artificially ranked lower in search results or banned completely, while they're off to help their next client.
The most dangerous promotional strategy, however, is one that works. Some of the top-ranking websites use many of the techniques discussed in this chapter, techniques and tricks that are explicitly prohibited by Google, MSN, AOL, Yahoo!, and the other major search engines. Why is that dangerous? Because it can lull you into a false sense of confidence, a belief that if an SEO consultant can do it for one of his other clients, that he can do it for you too. But ranking on Google and other search sites can be quite ephemeral, and if known bad techniques are being used, it's just a matter of time before the crawler penalizes your site.
Inside The Book