Top ten deceptions in SEO

Julie Gorham and Matthew Janik

1. We guarantee that you will be to the top of the Google ranks within 48 hours.

Any SEO company that offers a guarantee of number one rankings should be avoided. There is no magic bullet that can get you to the top of Google within days; the only way to accomplish this is to have the patience and solid work ethic to grow your campaign from the ground up in proper white-hat (safe/legal SEO tactics) fashion.

Google and the other search engines are constantly changing and updating their algorithms that assess what sites should rank highest. Search rankings can change on a daily basis. Lately, Google has begun dropping random sites in their rankings just to see how companies react.

2. We can guarantee you {insert random number here} links to your site in the first month of service.

Question your SEO company about their link building tactics. Good, reputable links are still important to site ranking. Link building is one of the most time-consuming and difficult aspects of a solid SEO campaign. The quantity of links to a site is not nearly as important these days as the quality and reputation of the acquired links.

Every search engine out there today is capable of telling the difference between links that have been purchased and farmed, or links that are reputable and have been earned with hard work and excellent content. Every business should strive for the latter, and any company that guarantees a large amount of links in a short time are using purchased or farmed leads.

Good link building can only be built through patience, dedication and due diligence. Just like number one search rankings, there is no shortcut for earning links; the only way to do it correctly is to provide amazing content that people want to talk about and share with their friends.

3. You must sign a minimum of a one-year contract with us to receive your desired results.

SEO is a very difficult field that is constantly changing. As a result, there is no way to guarantee that your efforts will produce desired results for your clients. Because of this, many SEO companies are satisfied simply getting their SEO clients locked into a contract for a year or longer. By doing this, these companies don’t have to worry about providing consistent results; the client will pay their salaries for a year or more regardless of what how the SEO company performs.

This tactic is utilized by companies that don’t have the knowledge and confidence to meet their client’s goals. Any SEO company that is worthy of your investment should be confident enough in their abilities to know that their clients will stay with them because they are doing a great job.

4. Once we fix your meta keyword tags your rankings will skyrocket.

This statement can get confusing for business owners who do not understand SEO or website code, and many questionable SEO companies will utilize the strange vocabulary of their field to scare/confuse businesses into purchasing their services. Meta tags are bits of code in a website that search engines used to use to evaluate the site. “Used to” is the key set of words here, as Google and other search engines abandoned this practice long ago when spammers discovered that they could manipulate these tags to raise their rankings.

In current times, there is absolutely no value whatsoever to the meta keywords tag in website code; it does nothing for a company’s search rank or authority. There are two tags that still have some importance however. The meta title and meta description tags in website code are still important for search rankings, but not because they raise your ranking; these tags are only important because they are what shows up in a search result for your business.

Companies can control how their search results look on Google and other search engines by manipulating these tags, but from a sheer search ranking perspective, there is no benefit. An SEO company that touts the power of meta keyword tags either does not know what they are talking about, or they are trying to confuse you into a sale.

5. Our company is Google certified.

This tactic has been popping up a lot lately. Many SEO companies are creating fake brands that they display on their sites which claim that they are “Google Certified” implying somehow that this certification will put you ahead of other companies because you are working with them. Google does not certify or endorse SEO companies, and anyone that claims they do is lying to you.

There is no secret club within Google to give SEO practitioners an edge on their competition. This is also true for companies that tell you they have a friend at Google. There is no way to play the system. Do not get fooled into thinking there is.

6. Content marketing is not important; we can get you to the top of Google through SEO alone.

There was a time in the early days of SEO when companies could use keyword stuffing, link farming and other black-hat tactics to guarantee their clients top rankings in search engines. SEO alone cannot give companies the uptick in ranking that they desire. Companies that want to improve their search engine rank must not only have clean and efficient SEO implemented, but they must also be providing potential customers with a consistent flow of informative and engaging content.

Old-school SEO practitioners are resistant to change and attempt results solely on their outdated SEO tactics. This is a waste of money with no lasting campaign benefit. While good SEO is very important in allowing search engines to quickly and effectively find important elements of a website, content creates the authority and relevance to keep visitors coming back. Without both, the website rank will never ascend.

7. We must use your targeted keywords an exact amount of times on each page to raise your ranking.

Questionable SEO companies put this in their advertisements all the time as if there is some perfect recipe for guaranteed results that only this company knows about. Keywords are an important aspect of SEO, as they are what potential customers will be typing into search engines to find the product you are offering, but the over-saturation of keywords is no longer relevant in modern SEO.

There is no added benefit to adding a particular keyword you are targeting to your site 25 times as opposed to 1 or 2. It is the relevance of content that is important to a person using a search engine; they will not be properly served if they are directed to a site that contains the search phrase they typed in, but has no helpful information about that topic. This is just another way that shady SEO companies try to manipulate the language of their field to make is sound more complex than it really is so they can scare potential clients into signing up.

Content is the important thing, and a site with great content and less keyword saturation will almost always outrank a site with poor content but heavy keyword saturation.

8. For best results, you must link to our company’s page.

SEO companies that require a link to their main sites are not helping your business. This forced link building is a black-hat (bad) technique that will eventually get you flagged by Google. Once this company’s shady tactics are discovered, every site associated with this company is at risk of being banned from search ranks altogether.

Another technique is the use of link redirects. Some SEO companies will make all of the links that they acquire for a client first direct through their company’s page (or a separate page created by the SEO company) before it actually reaches the client’s site. This can be difficult to spot, and it allows the SEO company to block all the links they have built for a client that leaves or fires their company. Your rank will return to the rank origin from when you first began working with that company.

9. Why use Content curation to get you to the top?

Content curation is the process of gathering relevant articles for a particular topic and housing them all in the same place – like an online library for topics. Reputable sites like the New York Times and other media giants use content curation very effectively, and even Matt Cutts (head of the webspam department at Google) has stated that using this technique correctly can add value and relevance to your site.

However, what most questionable SEO companies mean when they say this is that they will copy and paste articles relating to your field on your site and take credit for them after they rework a couple of the words slightly (AKA plagiarism). Google makes it very clear that this is a black-hat tactic that will earn you a black mark with search engines (rank demotion).

Google and the other search engines have become very good at spotting duplicate content on the Internet, and it is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get your site banned. If an SEO company says this to you, make them clarify and lay out the specific plan of action for content curation. Ask them how much original material they will produce, and what their schedule of content distribution will be.

10. We know everything there is to know about SEO.

If it has not been stressed enough throughout this article, SEO is a very dense field that requires a great deal of study, and even when you think you understand it well, there is a constant influx of changes and alterations that come in and shake everything up.

Even the higher-ups at Google do not know everything there is to know about SEO, and any company that claims that they do is projecting unjustifiable hubris and should not be trusted.

Look for a company that demonstrates their work ethic through multiple mediums and platforms. A company like this will put in the time and effort to stay on top of the constant changes that take place in the world of SEO, and it is this type of company that will provide you with the best possible results for your next SEO or content marketing campaign.

Julie Gorham is the owner at Marketing EQ. She can be reached at 360.737.9888 or

Matthew Janik is the CEO of FRINGE. He can be reached at 360.334.5868 or

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