I recently received a spam email that made me laugh. It was from someone selling a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) solution, and they lamented that as Google improves their search algorithms, the old methods of increasing a site’s search rankings don’t work anymore, but they still offered what they described as “as close as you can get to the good old ‘magic bullet’ that used to exist.” I found this pretty amusing, since they were complaining that the “black hat SEO” techniques that used to be popular just aren’t effective anymore, and they can even hurt a site’s rankings. How dare Google try to encourage people to make websites that are useful, appealing, and helpful!
Against my better judgment, I decided to check out this spammer’s website, and sure enough, it was full of everything one would expect in a dodgy, snake-oil-salesman operation: an obnoxious video that plays automatically, headlines in large fonts and bright colors telling visitors that they could solve all their SEO problems, a countdown timer for a special sale price of their product, lots and lots of text telling you about how much money they can save you and what a huge increase in traffic you’ll have, and boxes that pop up and ask you “Are you sure?” if you try to navigate away or close the browser window.
Upon some investigation, I think I was finally able to discover what their product actually does: it compares the types of links that your site receives with those of other popular sites, so you can try to emulate their SEO strategy. That’s not a bad idea, but even if this software makes it easier to do, obscuring that fact by hiding it under walls of text about how difficult SEO is and how much money they can save you doesn’t exactly make me think they have a lot of confidence in their own product (especially since anyone can use Google Analytics to do basically the same thing).
The thing is, SEO isn’t a single thing you can do to magically attract people to your site, no matter how much these kinds of marketers want it to be. With thousands of websites competing for people’s attention, Google and other search engines are constantly refining their algorithms to figure out ways to direct people toward the information that is most helpful to them, so your best strategy shouldn’t be to try to trick people into coming to your website through underhanded means, but to provide them with what they want. Creating quality content should always be your #1 strategy, followed closely by making sure your site is easy to navigate and establishing relationships with your users and other experts in your field who recognize that you provide knowledge and value in your area of expertise.
Have you been burned in the past by shifty salesmen who claimed they could increase your site’s traffic by 1000% for a modest fee? Do you have any other amusing sales pitches to share? Would you like to learn more about how you can use modern SEO and inbound marketing techniques to form relationships with your customers and build sales by using the existing demand for your products or services? Please let us know in the comments, or feel free to contact us for more information.