SEO a Scam? The Truth About the Industry

I frequent many SEO and Web Marketing forums on a daily basis and every so often there is a debate about the SEO industry and ethics. After being involved in a number of these debates, it has become really obvious that the main problems are the facts that no two SEO companies are alike and there is no unified methodology. It’s very hard to make statements about the industry as a whole because it’s debatable what exactly ‘SEO’ is. Mix in the fact that most SEO companies keep their methodology and campaign strategies secret and we have a situation where every company is totally different with very different results.

Fact 1 : There is no unified SEO methodology. SEO is actually defined by wikipedia as a process of improving traffic from SERPs to a site. Of course, HOW they do that is the real question and causes the debates.

Fact 2 : The effectiveness of an SEO campaign depends on the site structure, site content, keywords, methodology used, and how popular the site is. A site cannot just rank for any random keyword. SEO is also not voodoo. It is logic, problem solving, and Web marketing mixed together. If your site provides no value to users, it probably won’t rank.

Fact 3 : Some ‘SEOs’ do search engine optimization and some do search engine manipulation. Of course, it is all marketed as SEO. Unethical optimization provides results at any cost and is always short term (usually ends in a banned domain name). Ethical optimization opens up the site to the search engines and provides long term benefits.

Fact 4 : Most SEO companies get paid whether or not your site gets any rankings. Unfortunately, this is the case with the industry. Most SEO companies implement A, B, and C and move on to the next client. Hopefully, the site ranks. If it doesn’t, they always have more clients.

Fact 5 : Most SEO companies use both ethical and unethical inbound linking strategies.To maximize profits, it is very common for SEO companies to buy bulk links from India, links on spam/scraper web sites, or sell large directory submission packages. It is also common for SEO companies to place huge amounts of the contract into inbound linking to make up for the poor quality of the site optimization.

I don’t think it is fair to characterize the industry as a whole without figuring out what is wrong with it and how SEO companies can overcome it. So how exactly do we determine what is good and bad about the industry? I have now been involved with the Web for over 10 years and, specifically, with the SEO industry for almost 4 years and I’ve seen the inner workings of major SEO companies and worked with clients who had been burned by their previous SEO campaigns. Combined with numerous Web postings and forum debates talking about the same basic problems, I’ve compiled a list of the most common issues.

Problem 1: Responsibility for Results

It’s no secret that the vast majority of SEO companies take no responsibility for results. It is a fact that no SEO company can guarantee results (and if they do, they are lying to you). It is also a fact that the client is taking a risk by spending money with an SEO company that basically says ‘We’ll do what we can’. SEO companies simply guarantee they’ll do the work to ‘optimize’ the site, but without full disclosure of their methodology, what exactly is the client paying for? No other industry sells a product with no guarantees and no specific list of work that will be completed. Of course, SEO work is basically the sales of information and keeping the specifics of a methodology is important, but the combination of secrecy and no responsibility for results really makes SEO campaigns risky. So, how can an SEO company reduce the risk for the client and provide the best grade of service?

Answer 1: Incentive Based Pricing

The only real way to reduce the financial risk of the client is to share the risk. Through incentive-based pricing, the SEO company can charge a certain percentage of the total contract (say 70%) to cover their intellectual property and time while placing the rest of the contract price (remaining 30%) in incentives for success. Of course, incentives and their percentage of the contract would be totally relative depending on the campaign. This first step into sharing in the risk provides both reassurance to the client that the company believes in its methodology and places some of the financial burden of the campaign on the SEO company. At the moment, however, very few SEO companies are willing to share in the risk and charge the same price whether the client gets top rankings or no rankings at all (or possibly even lower rankings).

Problem 2: Unethical Optimization

Unfortunately, unethical (or blackhat) optimization is still very prominent on the Web. It’s also unfortunate that ‘SEO’ has been mistakenly confused with ‘Blackhat SEO’. This is still the biggest problem for SEO companies. Saying that all SEO companies deal in blackhat optimization is like saying everyone who emails is a spammer. Blackhat optimization is not optimization at all…it is search engine manipulation. Because there is so much money tied to top rankings, there will always be a market for unethical SEO and search engine spam. Until companies realize what is ethical and unethical and stop supporting those blackhat SEO companies, they will continue to thrive. This makes the industry as a whole look bad and does not reflect the ethics of good SEO companies. Blackhat provides fast, short term results, but is never a good option in the long run.

Answer 2: Ethical Optimization

There is no quick and easy solution to blackhat optimization’s stain on the SEO industry. I would suggest that all marketing departments research optimization techniques and educate themselves on what techniques are unethical. No SEO company is going to say they do unethical optimization. It’s also not a good idea to immediately trust a company or product based simply on their rankings. Unethical optimization DOES provide rankings…just not for the long run.

It would also be helpful if the major search engines would be more open and accessible to SEO companies. Currently, the major search engines and SEO companies do not deal with each other and have formed a sort of love-hate relationship. Because of this, many ethical SEOs have slowly moved into dark territory. Ethical optimization seeks to make sites more easily accessible to the engines and help to improve the engine’s search results. The problem is that the search engines mainly clump all SEO companies together the same way as uninformed users do: search engine manipulation. This is just not the case. Search engines do not want to reveal what they consider unethical because it would basically be providing a list of holes in their algorithms that blackhat SEOs would be able to manipulate further, but a defined list of ‘what not to do’ would provide a definitive list for businesses looking for an SEO company.

Basic Rules of Ethical Optimization

Any campaign that does not abide by the following rules is dealing in unethical optimization techniques and should be avoided.

1.) What the user sees and what the search engine sees should be exactly the same. Do not hide anything.

2.) Your keywords (and the resulting optimization) should exactly reflect the content of the page.Keywords should always reflect what your site is about.

3.) Do not build out pages exclusively for search engines. The site should always cater to both audiences (users and search engines). Catering to only users is why optimization is necessary. Catering only to search engines is optimization gone too far into blackhat.

4.) Do not participate in manipulative inbound linking schemes like link farms, bulk links, triangle linking, or any other unethical manipulation of your Google PageRank or link authority. Inbound links should be relevant to the content of your site and you should always know who is linking to you and where your links come from.

Problem 3: Assembly Line / Software SEO

With the growth of the SEO industry has also come the automation of SEO. The absolute first thing any prospective SEO client should know is that all effective SEO campaigns are custom. There is no checklist of items that will work exactly the same on every site. If the SEO company claims there is, then they are not doing full optimization and the campaign is minimal. A good optimization campaign optimizes the site architecture, text content, and code of the site. Assembly line SEO does not take into consideration the unique needs/design of the site and may even deal in blackhat optimization. SEO software especially should be looked at closely. There are really only two things SEO software could do that would work for any site: doorway pages (showing engines one thing and users a different thing; which is unethical) or a system of pages build exclusively for search engines (often called info or information pages and linked in an out of the way part of the page). Doorway pages are 100% unethical and info pages are deep in the gray area. Neither of those two methods address the architecture of the site, proper keyword analysis, or effective text content. The following links are examples of automated SEO software freely available on the Web. All links contain ‘nofollow’ to prevent the sites from getting inbound link credit from our site. These sites are NOT recommended by TreeHouse SEM.

http://doorwaypagemaker.com/ – Doorway page system; UNETHICAL

http://www.doorway-wizard.com/ – Doorway page system; UNETHICAL

Answer 3: Custom Campaign and Assessment

‘SEO Software’ may be cheap and affordable, but you get what you pay for. Any campaign that is going to slap on additional pages are simply sell you links is NOT an effective SEO campaign. Any SEO effort that simply has you add a few ‘optimized’ pages to your site is not going to be optimal. If you wanted to convert a street car into a race car, you don’t simply add racing strips to it. Don’t think that dumping a few pages on your site targeted to some random keywords is the same as a real SEO campaign.

If your SEO company will not sit down and talk about the layout, architecture, and aim of your site, then it is not providing a top-end service. Remember that the vast majority of ‘SEO software’ either is for building doorway/landing pages or simply providing you with data about your site (data that is already free to everyone on the Web). Good SEO campaigns take into account both the user and the search engines…not one or the other. An SEO company should have a commanding understanding of user experience and search engine optimization and use these in combination to create a campaign that will provide the best ROI. The end goal should always be leads/sales. Bringing in piles of non-targeted traffic often leads to extremely high turn over rates and very low lead conversion.

Conclusion

Do your research. Find out what you want from an optimization campaign and then ask the right questions. Make sure that the sales representative you talk to knows what they are selling. If they do not, they are definitely not the person to get information from. A lot of SEO companies use hard sale tactics and the reps are less than knowledgeable about what they are selling. Ask the following questions and see what they have to say.

1.) How do you assess keywords? If an SEO company simply optimizes for whatever keywords are sent to them by the client, the SEO campaign starts off on very shaky ground. Keyword analysis should be performed that takes into account the number of searches in all the major search engines and the relative competition for those terms. The site should also be compared to the keywords to see if they support each other.

2.) Do you plan on building out pages specifically to house keywords? Landing pages and doorway pages are not effective long term SEO options. SEO companies like them because they do not have to touch the rest of the site and it’s very easy to simply add band aids instead of performing surgery.

3.) Will my SEO campaign also help improve the user experience of the site? Proper architecture and usability goes hand in hand with SEO and helps increase ROI. You should want to bring in new traffic and convert it.

4.) Does my revenue model affect my keyword selection and the optimization as a whole? Any SEO company that does not optimize based on the target audience is NOT providing the most effective campaign. An ecommerce site marketing to comparative shoppers will want to optimize heavily for product names and model numbers. An online magazine wanting to bring in recurring traffic will want to optimize for article topics and specific themes. Local companies will want to optimize for geo-targeted keywords.

5.) I want to optimize my site, but do not want to change any of the existing content or layout…how would you go about this? Any SEO company that says they will simply add on landing pages or hide text is selling blackhat. This goes back to the earlier analogy. You are really saying that you have a car that you want to modify to be very fast, but do not want to modify the engine and the mechanic simply adds racking stripes and charges you full price.

Thank you for reading TreeHouse SEM [http://www.treehousesem.com/] articles. If you would like to know more about any of these topics, feel free to contact us.

About the Author: Steve comes from a rich Web background where he has worked on the design, development, and marketing aspects of hundreds of Web sites. Formerly from Mississippi where he attended Ole Miss, Steve moved to San Diego to pursue further challenges in the Web marketing arena.

To compete in the rapidly growing marketplace of SEM, Treehouse immediately set itself apart by placing Chief Technology Officer DeVries at the helm, who is one of the most coveted experts in the industry today. DeVries was previously a lead technical consultant at a competing local firm, achieving top rankings for major clients such as Entrepreneur, Vegas.com, Viacom, Workopolis, and Ziff Davis Media. DeVries’ experience has brought him much industry attention and placed him in high demand as a speaker at industry events by those looking to pick his brain.

Should You Use an SEO Agency for Your Business?

8 Benefits of Engaging SEO Agencies to Boost Your Online Presence!

Advertising has transformed to one of the most demanding and crucial aspects of having to run a business. This ultimately means that the overall success of your business is going to depend mainly on the effectiveness of your advertising campaign.

Nowadays, online is where everyone’s at, which is also the reason why most businesses look to promote their products or services online. To do that, one needs to have a business website which will run their internet marketing campaign. With an abundance of spam links and countless other websites floating around in cyberspace, it’s easy for a business website to get lost or rank so low in the SERPs, that the chances of searchers to find the website are seriously diminished.

Since, paying a search engine to place your business website at the top of its list doesn’t come cheap, the next best thing one can do is to use search engine optimization or SEO techniques to increase the clicks to the website and help it work its way up the search engine’s results page.

Why You Should Hire a SEO Agency?

Optimizing a website for a search engine can be not only a tough, but also costly process, mainly because there is just too many business websites competing for the coveted number one spot on the page rank, by using the exact same keywords.

While businesses can opt to do their own SEO, hiring a SEO agency that has experienced search engine optimizers will no doubt, help businesses reap ROI in the long run. One of the best ways in which businesses can do that is by outsourcing their SEO needs to qualified SEO agencies.

The growing demand for SEO services has lead to a mushrooming of many a great number of SEO agencies fulfilling their business objective, which has lead many businesses seeking SEO services asking the question, “how do we find the best SEO service provider?”

Obviously, all those searching for SEO agencies will have to make their selection by passing SEO companies through careful and meticulous scrutiny, in order for them to get the best in search engine optimization for their business website.

Benefits of Using SEO

One of the most obvious advantages of using the services of SEO agencies is their ability to enhance the visibility of a business website, but that being said, business owners also raise concerns on affordability, which can only be analyzed when businesses know the benefits of using the services of SEO agencies. In more ways than one, the following are some of the benefits of using search engine optimization services, especially the right ones, which can allow businesses to enjoy the following advantages.

Target Traffic

While businesses embark on an SEO marketing campaign, they should realize that an entire marketing campaign can fall flat on its face if a business is unable to reach the masses, that is, their target audience. It doesn’t really matter whether your business website is attracting hundreds of clicks per day, if those visits are not from your intended target demographic, you will only be seeing them spending time on your website without actually buying anything, which is really the opposite of your marketing intentions.

Get a Well-Made Business Website

Even though, search engine optimization is necessary for businesses to compete with one another online, the importance of the website design cannot be undermined. While hiring the services of a good SEO agency can get you good marketing copy for your website and an effective use of the related keywords, having a brilliantly designed website will help a lot when it comes to attracting people and even the search engines to your website. This is true because search engines always take into account different aspects of usability and the overall layout of the business website.

Cost Effectiveness

The fact of the matter remains that while using radio and TV advertisements can be an effective means of marketing a business’s product or service, it still is very expensive, especially for start-up businesses. By taking their marketing needs online and hiring the services of an experienced SEO agency, a business is able to reach thousands, or even millions of people which they would have not been able to otherwise.

Using SEO Best Practices

Hiring an experienced SEO agency will allow you to get information on the various techniques they have adopted in their SEO tactics. Hiring a SEO agency that has been in the game for a while will also provide you with the added advantage of not having to worry about them using any SEO techniques while working on your business website.

Hiring experienced SEO experts will ensure that your website climbs the search engine ranks without using any illegal practices or short cuts that could produce short term spikes in the website’s ranking, but eventually lead to your website having to pay penalties.

Access to Latest SEO Techniques

Needless to say the field of SEO is constantly evolving, which means that it is important for businesses to stay abreast on all the latest SEO techniques that can help them stay in the game. That being said, businesses usually have little or no time to keep up with the latest developments in SEO techniques. However, an agency providing SEO services is all about being proactive in keeping up-to-date with the latest search engine news and changes in SEO techniques.

Cutting-Edge Tools

Keeping in mind the last point, SEO agencies are fluent in navigating through a wide range of online marketing tools that helps increase the value of your marketing strategy. Whether it’s using web analytics for carrying out research or conversion tools that monitor and report the usage of important keywords, SEO agencies know how and where to get the information they need to save time and reduce your in-house cost.

Comprehensive SEO Knowledge

As mentioned earlier, SEO agencies are usually the most qualified in dealing with various verticals of online marketing, mainly due to the nature of their work. Therefore, an SEO agency is able to solve a multitude of problems which a business simply cannot handle by itself. An SEO agency can work together with a business to provide an added perspective, when it comes to understanding and developing marketing strategies for different sectors and various types of business websites.

Bottom Line

Lastly, search engines like Google realize all too well that websites that don’t add value to a searcher’s experience on the internet are not worth a mention in their index. Furthermore, in some cases Google might also decide to drop your website from the SERPs altogether if you’ve used spam to get a higher page ranking.

The two main goals of SEO agencies who develop marketing strategies to push your product or service online, is to make sure online content is interesting and no techniques have been used for obtaining your goals. So, are SEO agencies worth it? Absolutely!

Local SEO Industry: Current Status and Future Projections

What Is SEO?
This is a common question that most people especially those who are either new or not familiar with online marketing might be asking. SEO stands for search engine optimization. In layman’s language, it the process of capturing traffic from the search engines such as Google listings. Through this read, I am going to give you facts about the SEO business, current market status of SEO as well as the future projections in this field.

The Major SEO Players
Like any other industry in the world, the online SEO business has its players. This includes SEO local tools providers such as small digital agencies, SEO free lancers and web-designers among others.

Returns for SEO Players
The major reason as to why people get into business is to profit and expand their economic status. In the field of SEO business, the rates of returns are promising. This is because a recent research on SEO returns for a period of 12 months shows that at least all the players had something to take home. However, the returns are varying depending on a players’ hardwork and skills in the field. For example, according to this research, 34% of the interviewed SEOs said they received an amount less than $ 30,000 while another group of respondents, 17% said they received returns that were above $ 500,000.

From the above statistics, it is evident that the size of an organization played a role in the determination of the amount of returns received. It beats logic for one to expect a large organization to receive low amounts of returns and vice versa. In addition, the presence of part time SEOs as well as the entry of newbies into the market could have let to the low rates of turnover due to low operation capacity. However, it is hard to predict the course the SEO market is likely to take due to lack of clear shift in SEO earnings since the year 2011. However, the demand for local SEO services seems to be growing day in day out and this is attracting more players thereby tightening the competition among SEO service providers.

The Emerging Issues with the Current SEO Returns
With the above distribution of returns, several questions emerge. This includes the following:

• From the statistics, a large percentage of SEOs receive a low income something that suggests low pricing of SEO services.
• It is also possible that small and medium businesses do not understand the value of SEO services provided to them.
• The low SEO income earners, those who received less than $ 30,000 annual returns are also being doubted if they can provide quality services while earning that low.
• It is also unknown if most SEOs will still be in operation if their income remains static.

The Current SEOs Income Per Customer
Just like the annual SEO returns, SEO income per customer also varies. This is because there are those clients who would pay less than $100 a month while others will pay more than $5000 a month. This variation in income per client can be attributed to the type of services provided as well as the depth of services. The size of business a client is seeking SEO services for also play a role in determining the amount to be charged. For example, small businesses are charged less simply because their requirements are much smaller as compared to large multi-location franchise businesses.

Research also shows that some SEO service providers operate on high volume basis. Such SEOs provide simple SEO services at very low monthly rates. As a result, such SEO service providers end up having a high customer churn with a large dedicated network of sales team.

Similarly, some SEO service providers provide services that are more comprehensive in a much more professional manner customized according to the client thereby leading to a low number of clients.

Due to the above statistics, it therefore becomes essential for any SEO service provider in the current market to operate in a manner that matches his/her setup.

Handling Capacity of the Modern SEOs
Currently, SEOs are handling more clients as compared to the previous years. Statistics show that about 40% of the SEOs in the market handle at least 11 clients while 23% SEOs handle at least 21 clients. Such large numbers of clients to handle lead to more audits to be done, lots of tasks, research, reports and even more calls from the clients to be attended to. The high numbers of clients also demand a high level of efficiency so that the clients can be assured of quality services.

Market Structure for Most SEOs
SEOs have been using several marketing techniques to promote their businesses. Offline marketing channels such as word of mouth has been cited by most SEOs as the most effective marketing technique. This can be attributed to the trust level, business reputation as well as relationships build during the offline campaigns.

Alongside offline marketing, SEOs also practice online marketing such as the use of LinkedIn and social media. However, most SEOs have cited LinkedIn as the best option as compared to the social networks because it is better placed for lead generation and networking.

Services Offered by SEOs
Majority of the SEO players offer onsite optimization with 91% of the SEOs practicing this. Google+ optimization has also a good number of SEOs practicing it as 86% claimed to be offering this service to their clients. For affiliate marketing, only a small percentage (11%) of SEOs are offering this service to their clients.

Other services offered by SEOs:

• Content creation/optimization
• Link building
• Citation building
• Social media marketing
• Website development
• PPC
• Mobile site development
• Video marketing and mobile marketing.

The most demanded service by SEO clients is onsite marketing, while the least demanded service is affiliate marketing. The other services are somehow averagely demanded. However, most small and medium businesses do not understand the opportunities that video and mobile marketing can unlock to them and therefore tend not to use these services. SEOs therefore need to educate their clients on these marketing channels so that they can go for them.

When asked about the online SEO services SEOs feel are effective, 82% of them said that the General search is the most effective for generating leads. Local search appears to be the second best after 62% of the respondents in an SEO survey voted in its favor. PPC is the 3rd with 53% while social media is the 4th with 26%. Daily deals appear to be an appealing to most SEOs because only 1% voted in favor of it.

Tedious SEO Tasks
55% of the current SEOs in the market find link building to be the most tedious and time-consuming work. Others, though 15% only believe that content writing is the most tedious and time consuming task among all the tasks they do. It therefore emerges that to the 55% who find link building tedious, this task is also boring to them.

Future Projections
This is an outline of what we expect in the near future as far as SEO business is of concern.

Expansion of SEO Businesses
Compared to the previous years, SEO businesses has been growing and expanding steadily. Most SEOs (about 93%) are not only optimistic about expanding their businesses, but are also expecting to grow their business. In what seems to be a determined move to grow their businesses, most SEOs (82%) are willing to recruit more staff members so as to realize their desired levels of growth.

The social media is also expected to grow and be more effective even than the local directories. This is because most SEOs believe that social media can perform better because of recommendations from friends. Mobile usage is also expected to grow further and become relevant for local businesses.

Upsurge of Confidence in SEO Business
Unlike other businesses, the SEO business is showing a positive growth of confidence among the players. Despite this being a dynamic and innovative industry, most SEOs are still willing to recruit more staff to help drive their businesses ahead. 84% of the sampled SEOs in the SEO research are also optimistic that the SEO business is going to be more profitable starting this year 2013.

Confidence is also running high that if the SEO players increase the understanding of SEO/social among the business owners they serve in future, they will not only increase the business owners’ rate of investment, but also make them transfer their marketing budgets from other channels to the digital channels.

Looking for Good SEO Training Courses

Finding free knowledge on the Internet these days is not all that difficult. There are tons of article directories and blogs that can point you to some good resources or may serve as the actual sources of quality information. Even complicated topics like SEO are simplified to articles that are easy to read. However, SEO articles are ideal for people that are just getting started with search engine optimization. If you try to search for more advanced techniques, you may find bits of information here and there while the rest are simply repeats of tricks that every experienced SEO specialist should know by now. In order to dive into the deeper aspects of SEO, you have to go up a level and find SEO training courses.You might think that these SEO courses are easy to find since you can just try your favorite search engine and see a list of promising results. But stop for a minute and think about the main topic that these training courses cover. If the topic revolves around SEO, you can be certain that these courses use SEO techniques so they stay on the first page of results. This sounds like a good thing because they may share these secrets with you. Unfortunately, there might be other sites that are there just to scam you. All good SEO courses require you to pay a certain amount so you need to make sure that your money goes to a good SEO group or individual. While there are most likely some legitimate sites that offer quality SEO training on the search engines, you should at least resort to these couple of techniques to really make sure you will be dealing with a good group of people behind these courses.Find Out What Others RecommendPeople that have went through some excellent Search Engine Optimization training courses may be kind enough to share their experiences in forums and blogs. Some of these SEO training courses feature referral programs where you can get some extra income just by promoting their SEO course. One way to find these people is to look for an SEO training course using your favorite search engine. Once you found one, use the name or domain of that particular course as a search query so you might find some forum topics that ask if the service is trusted. People may reply with their own personal recommendation of a good SEO training and this is where you can check it out so you can be the judge. It would even be better if you spend some time looking for blogs that often contain more in-depth reviews of online programs with Search Engine Optimization training courses.Compare Different SEO training coursesYou will find people with different opinions and that can cause some confusion. But you can easily clear that if you check out the official websites of the Search Engine Optimization training that others recommend. These training courses should be open with the features and training coverage along with the price. Do a side-by-side comparison and make a choice depending on which training course has a higher number of qualities.

How to Identify Bad SEO Services?

Optimising a website to achieve high rankings in search engine results pages is an extremely effective internet marketing strategy to drive leads and sales to any given website. But be careful, SEO is highly technical and mysterious discipline any so called “SEO professionals” rely on the lack of knowledge to the subject scam prospects.Which leads us to the question: How to Identify Bad SEO Services?First lets understand what SEO or search engine optimisation is all about. SEO is an ongoing process of optimising individual pages of a website with related keywords so when prospects search for these terms, the optimised pages appear in the first results of SERPS (search engine results pages). This process will start to generate qualified traffic to the website which will start to generate conversions, sales, leads, sign ups, etc.Avoid False PromisesWith SEO there are no cutting corners so substantial results cannot be achieved over night. Avoid agencies and freelancers that promise high rankings in just 30 days or less. Anyone promising or guaranteeing first positions in Google is using deceiving techniques that will hurt your website in the long run.What would you prefer a sudden surge in traffic that will go away fairly quick or a steady increase in traffic which will continue to grow constantly without fading away?Black Hat TechniquesThere are many techniques used by these so called “SEO professionals” to game the SE algorithms in order to achieve high rankings in a short period of time. These procedures are known as “Black Hat” and are the signs that make seo services bad and ineffective.Some common black hat techniques are:Keyword Stuffing: Adding keywords right, left and centre on a page making it look unnatural not only for the search engines but also for its visitors.Invisible Text: Using same font colours as the background to try and fool the SE crawlers. This for me is child play; anyone who still believes that SEs are stupid enough to fall for it should look for help.Doorway Pages: Pages created with the sole purpose of ranking high, attract visitors and redirect them to another location.There are many more black hat procedures but the bottom line here is the Search Engines are very strict with their guidelines and do penalise websites that make use of such techniques.Bad Selection of KeywordsKeywords are the core of SEO; it is their rankings that will drive qualified traffic to your website. Some SEO agencies will come up with a huge list of keywords that relate to your business services and products, do not simply accept them. Go over the list selecting the ones that you would like to rank for and feel free to make suggestions of keywords that are related to your business but are not listed.Sometimes keywords with high search volume might not deliver the expected results because they might be too generic for your business. Work together with your selected agency or freelancer to come up with more descriptive keywords that despite having a lower search volume could deliver far more conversions.Paid Links SchemesAvoid such schemes by all means. Links are on the strongest ranking factors, search engines are strict in identifying and classifying them and yes they can recognise paid links by a mile away. SEs have no mercy with websites that engage in paid links schemes so make sure when you hire the services of an SEO they do not engage in these kind of schemes.Driving Irrelevant TrafficThere are many ways to drive traffic to website but unfortunately most of them are not effective. When I say not effective I meant that the traffic being driven is of low quality and by low quality I mean traffic that doesn’t convert at all. There are many ways to identify low quality traffic.A reliable SEO service should provide periodical analytics reports that indicate the behaviour of visitors when they land on your website. A high number of unique visitors doesn’t mean that the traffic to your website is good. Look for signals like bounce rate, average time on site, page views per visit and conversion rates.Be Careful with PricingSEO services vary in price according to a series of factors. Sometimes the most expensive ones might not be the best ones while affordable seo services could end up costing more than they were actually marketed. There are no set prices for internet marketing services some agencies offer set packages, others charge by the hour but the most important thing is to know how to identify bad seo services and with this guide you are now able to do so.