Set up a web site for your business and you’ll soon be inundated with calls from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) companies promising you the top spot on Google search results. Don’t fall for this scam! (We’ll use Google as an example, but the principles apply to all major search platforms.)
Beware of underhanded tactics that may give your site a temporary boost but that could actually hurt it in the long run. Some unscrupulous scammers will promise massive traffic to your site, and they deliver. But the traffic comes from click farms in far off countries where sweatshop workers are paid a pittance to repeatedly visit your site. They have no intention of buying anything from you, but the traffic looks good, until Google spots the trend and lowers your ranking.
Incompetent SEO companies will offer to “optimize” your web site content. What they’ll really do is stuff it full of keywords. Sure, judicious use of keywords makes sense; you have to let the search engines know what your content is about. But keyword stuffing will get your site in Google’s bad books.
Remember, too, that there’s only one top spot. After that SEO company hangs up the phone with you, they’re likely calling your competitors and making the same offer to them. Or their competitors are. You can’t all have the top spot.
Even Google won’t guarantee you the top spot on their search results. That’s not the way their algorithms work. True, you can pay for placement with AdWords, but even that won’t guarantee the top spot; there’s always someone else who may be willing to pay more.
Of course, SEO itself is not a scam. There are some good, honest folk out there who can help you improve your site’s ranking using legitimate techniques and hard work. Just beware of those who make promises they can’t keep.