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Beware of SEO Hucksters!

If you’re on this site, it’s for a few possible reasons. You may be someone keeping up with the world of web design and search engine optimization. You might be a current customer of LeapGo gathering information about what’s new. It’s also very probable that you’re a person who is looking for a web design company and wants more information about what we do. Either way, it’s safe to say you have at least a passing interest in search engine optimization (SEO).

Anyone who looks around for SEO will see websites filled with crazy promises. “Guaranteed rankings! Special relationships with Google! Free unicorn rides!” It’s hard to tell the wheat from the chaff. What can you do to avoid being taken for a ride? What kind of practices should throw up a red flag?

First, your SEO guru should never guarantee a top ranking with Google. It’s impossible to guarantee any rankings with any search engine, anywhere. The internet is constantly changing, and there are always new sites and new methodologies for SEO. Obviously, you do want to see at least some increase in your rankings, and a good SEO person will show you where you’re improving. Still, if someone guarantees you that you’ll get a #1 ranking with Google, Bing, or any other search engine, they’re feeding you a line.

“But, my guy says he knows someone with Google and he can get good rankings!” That’s great, but even if your SEO guy happens to have a “man on the inside,” that inside source can’t do a single thing to increase your rankings. Rankings are determined by a very complicated, closely guarded algorithm that very, very few are privy to. It’s Google’s meal ticket. There’s no way that they would allow just anyone to handle that or manipulate it for their own purposes. Plus, if your SEO guy has someone on the inside who can manipulate search engine rankings, maybe he isn’t dealing with a whole lot of above-board characters, and you should probably steer clear.

Next up, ask your web design firm how they plan to get you improved rankings. Do they tell you what they’re going to do? We’re not talking about nitty-gritty details that will shoot way over your head. We’re talking about setting forth a plan and being able to explain it to you clearly.

For instance, let’s say your car breaks down. You take it to a garage and have them check it out. They come back and tell you that it’ll be X amount of dollars but don’t say what they plan on doing. When you ask them what needs to be done, they avoid telling you and just restate their price. You’re not expecting that the garage will tell you what specific model part they need to get and the exact method that they’ll use to repair it down to the final screw, but you at least need an explanation. Being a savvy consumer, there’s no way you would you just throw your hands up in the air and let the garage do whatever they want to do.

Yet, this is what people do every day with computers and website development. They assume that whatever they’re going to be told is way beyond them, so they automatically tune out. This is your money. Don’t let it be spent without knowing where it’s going. If your SEO team can’t give you an idea of where your hard-earned money is going or what they plan on doing with it, don’t let them mess around on your dime.

There’s also a trickier method used by “black hat” SEO specialists that’s a little harder to track down. It’s called a shadow domain, and it’s basically a website whose sole purpose is to redirect traffic that hits it over to your site, making it look like there’s more traffic coming in than normal. Those using this technique will also pair it up with another tricky move: Invisible links to other sites in their network of optimized sites.

On the surface, this may seems like a good idea, if a little shady. After all, isn’t one part of SEO having other sites link into yours? However, there’s a difference between a real, useful link and links that are just there to fool search engines. Google knows the difference, and many times penalizes people who use shadow domains and invisible linkss. What’s worse is that those links can be changed on a whim by the SEO specialist to redirect to other sites, which can inhibit your own site’s growth!

Clearly, it’s important to pick a web design firm who uses above-board tactics to improve your rankings. How do you know who is honest and who isn’t?

It’s not as difficult as you would suspect. As we mentioned before, ask what your SEO planner has in store for your site. If they mention something that doesn’t sound right, ask if they can explain it more for you. Don’t assume that you won’t understand it, and if they try and confuse you or blow off your concerns, think of that untrustworthy auto mechanic. An honest man has nothing to hide, and the same holds true for search engine optimization.