The good folks over at Small Business Trends have compiled a quick list of how not to get fleeced by your SEO company. Since we at ReelSEO feel no one should ever get fleeced we thought it was worth mentioning here.

SBT's list includes looking out for things like too many keywords, too much bold or linking and other less-than-respectable practices used by so-called 'Black Hat SEO' people.

There are several major problems that can result from deceptive SEO practices which you need to be aware of. The first and most obvious should be degraded user experience. When search results are hijacked through these deceptive practices it harms the user's faith in the search engines and in your sites. It also frustrates them as they have to repeatedly click to find what it is they are really searching for.

A more harmful problem for you and your site is simply that some search engines may drop you from their results altogether. Deceptive SEO is frowned upon by all of the major search engines and they may not only lower your standings or page ranking but they might simply block your domain from being indexed at all. That means NO SEARCH RESULTS FOR YOU! as the SEO version of Soup Nazi from Seinfeld might say.

Even if you're not banned from the major search engine result pages the fact that your site came up and in fact does not have the information that users want will make the users talk and people will complain to something like eleven of their friends when they don't like something and only tell a few if they do. Word of mouth opinions now travel at the speed of light thanks to the social networking scene and that could rapidly add up to some majorly bad PR for you.

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Finally, there's little to no ROI on deceptive SEO. The company might promise you the moon and really all you get is a meteor storm of crap on your site due to how they went about things. You paid them for one thing and in return you really got the complete opposite. I guess that pretty much means a negative ROI and a lot of heads could be on chopping blocks depending on the size of the craters left from said meteor storm.

If it's just you or you have a small to medium-sized business you can ill afford to throw away money away on an SEO firm that effectively shoots your brand in the foot with these practices. So if you are looking to do or have some SEO done for you I might suggest you take a look at some of these resources:

  • SEO tips for Video (ReelSEO)
  • TubeMogul's Whitesheet on Video SEO (Tubemogul)
  • Webconf's Really big list of SEO stuff (pretty cool actually, thanks Webconf)

Of course opinions still vary on a variety of issues, like optimal keyword density (I shoot for 3% personally when writng SEO-friendly copy for clients) and how long a page description should be (100 characters for me) or how many keywords there should be (10-15 max). But no matter if you're a little on the high side or a little on the low side with these sorts of things, doing proper SEO and steering clear of deceptive practices will keep you ahead of the curve regardless. So hey, let's all be careful out there!

  • Spunky Jones

    I have learned to use ethical SEO methods that follow the guidelines of the search engines. I feel that this is best and it will work for the best in the long haul. I am seeing good progress with my sites ranking in the top three search engines.

    Things like using to much bold, actually distract your readers from the concentrating on your content. I figure you could actually lose visitors by over using bold text in your blog posts.

    • Mark Robertson

      Thanks for the comment. Let me know if we ever bold too much in our posts

  • Guest

    Check out the channel of DaveSolari on YouTube What he does is blackhat video SEO, pure and simple.
    As a YouTube partner, he is able to pick and choose thumbnails. Instead of using it the proper way (picking a descriptive frame from his own video) he hi-jacks frames from the most popular video of the day (e.g. Britain's got talent). With optimised metadata he is able to be listed amongst the official videos through the related items feature. His only interest is getting video views, thereby increasing revenue from Google AdSense.
    Should this trickery be condoned by YouTube?

    • reelseo

      Very interesting "Guest" Ill check this out for sure. NO - Youtube Should not be condoning it - if they even know its happening...

    • reelseo

      Can you give an example video?

    • dave solari

      Hi... davesolari here... i thought it would be funny to google myself, and this came up on 6th page.
      Your are totally correct. even tho the thumb hijacking has earned me over 3000$ in a month, i had a first strike warning from youtube. Its why i stopped doing it, and have to earn my views the honest way. More hard work, but i guess also more rewarding since its without cheating.


      • Mark Robertson

        Hey Dave Solari... Good to hear that you stopped but darn, $3K/mo, wow! No wonder I had a hard time finding examples and wasnt sure if "anonymous" was right... I think you are right, should be more rewarding to do it honestly... Thanks for the comment ;-)

        • Mark Robertson

          BTW, I assume that you saw the 1st and 2nd result Dave... ;-) Ouch. Time to do some defensive reputation management SEO....

  • ChristophorRick

    Hi Josh, thanks for the comment.

    The problem is partly that there are so many website submissions and so much content that the checking process probably can't be 100% automated. So then at that point you end up running into a situation where say Google probably needs to pay people to look at specific things to determine validity...well how much money are they going to put into that? It's the limiting factor.

    What we need is some sort of voluntary set of standards that when followed allows a site to display some badge of honor stating that they only use good SEO practices... I don't recall ever seeing something like this. Maybe it's time for me to look into starting it heh.

  • Josh

    Great article. I was never sure just how strict search engines would be on it because Even still, there's a lot of searches that come up wrong when I'm seeking information. Maybe there could be a shift from SEO practices to Search refinement/SEO policing instead?