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October 26, 2010

Spooky SEO: Don’t Let Black Hats Cross Your Path!

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Halloween is just around the corner, so what better time to take a trip down spooky lane to look at all the frightening tactics that your website may encounter with a ghoulish Internet marketing provider. Read on to learn more about these scary tricks, so you can protect your website from harm.

The Deadly Werewolf
This type of Internet marketer intentionally causes harm to clients by knowingly using technology and procedures that can have your website slashed from a search engine index or directory. If you’ve recently been mangled by this howling hijacker, or you suspect questionable practices are being applied to your site, fire them immediately, have your site fixed and apply for re-inclusion of your site into the search engine.

The Vanishing Phantom
These marketers usually start off with the strength of a poltergeist haunting, but then disappear into thin air when you try to get a hold of them to talk about the progress of your site. Don’t get spooked by a bad experience with an unwanted Internet marketer. Because client service isn’t always a priority for some, take the time to get to know how the Internet marketer collaborates and interact with clients. If you’re looking for Casper the Friendly Ghost to manage your account, invest time in communicating with the other side up front to channel those warm fuzzies.

Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts
CC BY 2.0

The Zombie Website
You have a nonprofit that rescues black kittens, and your site is promised top rankings across the board by your Internet marketer. The keyword phrases, you’re told, are a great fit for your organization and include “cute and snuggly black kitty kat rescue” and “we rescue wittle scared kitty wittys.” You believe the Internet marketer because you rank No. 1 in Google almost instantly and for months at a time. The only problem is, you’re ranking because those keywords aren’t relevant or competitive. No one is finding your site because everyone who wants to give you black kittens is searching for “black kitten rescue.” This turns your website into a walking zombie, dead and lifeless, without any activity. Don’t let your Internet marketer fool you; rankings for keywords that aren’t relevant to your business are just no good. A sign of a lively site is not only rankings, but traffic and conversions as well.

The Money-Sucking Vampire
Some Internet marketers will have you enamored with sexy promises only to end up draining your profits and the chances of your website’s success. Protect your neck – and your bottom line – by finding out just who this business is before mingling. Ask questions like: Are they credible? Do they have a reputable name in the industry? Who are their typical clients? Remember, not every agency is a fit for every client, and a good Internet marketer won’t take your website on if they feel their services aren’t right for you.

The next couple of spooks have been around for ages, and are less common these days because they’ve been exposed to the angry mobs. But just in case, keep an eye out for:

The Devil in Angel’s Clothing
These types of Internet marketers cloak themselves in deception. This may include tactics like presenting different Web pages to the user by redirecting them to something totally unrelated to what they were looking for. This devilish marketer might also use other’s work and claim it as their own, such as scraping content from other sites to use on yours, thus causing duplicate content issues. Ask the right questions of this Internet marketer’s methodology so you know who you’re dealing with up front. Remember, some cloaking is acceptable for certain products or services, such as a site that markets alcohol and uses the tactic to weed out those under the age of 21, or a site that has products that are legal in some countries but not others.

The Crafty Witch
This type of SEO uses black magic to put a spell on users by giving misleading information about your website so they click through. The “bait and switch” approach to driving traffic to your site will often get people to a page that has nothing to do with the phrase it’s optimized for. This crafty SEO type might also charm you with abilities, education, training or certifications and more to lure you into a contract, only to find out later that the business wasn’t what it seemed to be. Do your homework before entering this Internet marketer’s lair.

Do you know of any other malicious marketing characters? Tell us about it in our comments section. And check out Bruce Clay, Inc.’s SEO Code of Ethics to learn more about how to ward off evil Internet marketers!

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13 responses to “Spooky SEO: Don’t Let Black Hats Cross Your Path!”

  1. Rebecca Gill writes:

    Cute article Jessica. I wish more companies would grasp the concept of “black SEO” before they even being to talk to SEO consultants. It would save them a lot of grief and benefit those of us who actually live by the principles of white SEO.

  2. Jessica Lee writes:

    Thanks, Rebecca, glad you enjoyed it :) I agree with you … a lot of businesses are just now trying to wrap their head around the concept of SEO in general, so trying to decipher black hat from white hat tactics might not even be a choice for them due to lack of knowledge.

  3. Rahul Batra writes:

    Thanks for your warnings, from now I will keep in mind what to do and what not to do.And I will keep myself away from black hat techniques.

  4. lucy writes:

    Love the titles – it puts me in the Halloween spirit :p
    All customers want is a quick and cheap way to get up the ladder, but at the end of the day they come back to reason. White SEO is key!

  5. Andrew @ Blogging Guide writes:

    A really creative post! In tune with the Halloween spirit. Nice descriptions too. Yes, there are really a lot of fake internet marketers out there and it would do well for us to know something about internet marketing so we can’t be fooled easily.

  6. steveplunkett writes:

    Are you guys coming to my preso on Black Hat @ PubCon… hint: it has ethics in it.

  7. Jessica Lee writes:

    Hey, Steve! The writers won’t be at PubCon this year, but Bruce will — you should drop him a line. Maybe we can set up an interview for the blog or SEM Synergy?

  8. Jessica Lee writes:

    Thanks, Andrew! I appreciate that! Can you tell Halloween is one of my favorite holidays? Glad you stopped by.

  9. Jessica Lee writes:

    Hi, Lucy — yeah the black hat stuff might get quick results but it just doesn’t seem sustainable. Have a happy Halloween!

  10. Jessica Lee writes:

    Great, thanks, Rahul :)

  11. Jeorge Peter writes:

    Great post, really black hat seo are threat to those doing white hat.

  12. Jessica Lee writes:

    True statement … thanks for reading, Jeorge!

  13. Gino Orlandi writes:

    Great post. What I see a lot is Internet marketers charging insane monthly retainers for almost little to no work. They are basically selling you fluff that you could do yourself, but use fancy terms to make it sound difficult and worth the money.

    Being honest and fair with pricing your services is really the only way to go nowadays.



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