South Africa isn’t new to search engine optimisation, with numerous professional consulting firms opening over the last decade. The problem is that many of these SEO companies make use of black-hat SEO (practices that contravene search engine guidelines), which boosts the rank in the short term but ultimately, is heavily penalised by search engines.
This is particularly prevalent with once-off optimization services that don’t come with any formal guarantees. For optimization that, in the long term, works best. Your SEO Company should strongly avoid the following
Your professional SEO Company may try to forgo the usually painful process of link-building and simply pay to house backlinks to your site on massive link farms.
If these directories haven’t been discovered by Google yet, your website will get a sudden rankings boost, but once Google finds the link farm (and they will), your website may be penalised or even dropped from the registrar completely. Always personally review your link profile.
Keyword placements can be penalised if they don’t appear organic. An SEO company that’s unethical can cloak a bunch of keywords, which hides the content from a user’s view but is presented to web-crawlers. This is considered severely unethical.
Thin content is also a problem. You must make sure the content that they add to your website will add value to your target market, not just web-spiders. Try adopting a consumer perspective of your website. Google has.
Multiple Domains & Subdomains
Domains are set up to have your websites content on them so it would appear like there are many windows into your website. As a more sophisticated measure, subdomains can be opened that have the exact same keyword content as your homepage but while optimising around a different theme.
This is a somewhat archaic practice. It’s certainly not the mark of an SEO expert as, these days, search engine instantly recognise it as duplicate content. Your rankings boost will last a few days then revert to normal.
Unethical SEO companies that offer design services, got wise to the duplicate content measures and modified the above strategy to include multiple versions of a specified website; each with subtle variations on the original content. Not to be confused with a landing page, which are part of a promotional effort.
This worked for a while until Google started indexing content based on value added. So if the other website offers the same content value but it’s just put differently, it will still be seen as duplicate content.
It will also harm your brand identity and may risk confusing your customers.
Preventing Unethical Practices by your SEO Company
Africa has a smaller internet penetration than the rest of the world and Google Local Search makes sure that significant of their results are geographically close to the searcher.
So if you’re a company offering local products or services, your SEO Company doesn’t have to build a website that uses vicious black-hat SEO techniques. Instead, if they optimise in a patient and sensible manner, that offers rich and valuable content to the people who visit, they will eventually be rewarded by Google.
Remember the idiom: A quick fix is an easy solution, especially one that will not last.