It’s fair to say that, if your business uses a website of any sort, search engine rankings are probably high on your priority list. A question I get asked quite frequently though is: “a company have contacted me saying they can guarantee high search engine rankings. What should I do?”
It’s a very good question, especially as the number of SEO-based companies is growing rapidly. Some are very good, some aren’t, and for most business owner’s it’s hard to tell the difference.
Ever since search engines were first invented there have always been ways to trick them into ranking a website higher than it should. From keyword stuffing to dubious backlink practices, the results have always been the same: the search engines wise up, change their algorithms, and blacklist the guilty sites in the process. And as anyone whose site has been blacklisted will tell you, it can take years to undo the damage, if ever.
The important thing to remember is that search engines are only one half of the journey for your users. It’s true that they’re extremely important in getting people to a website, but once they’re there, it’s equally important to provide the best user experience so that the visitor can get exactly what they want from a site. Quite often the companies offering ‘guaranteed’ search engine rankings do so at the expense of that user experience. They employ a combination of underhanded tricks, major hacks to the website’s structure and content that is barely decipherable, all of which combines to provide the user with anything but a good experience. They may generate a boost in traffic in the short term, but what’s the point if visitors can’t use your site and just bounce straight back?
Good SEO, in it’s purist form, is not about simply generating high volumes of traffic to a website. Good SEO is more strategic. It’s about identifying who your target audience is, what they search for, and making sure your content is tailored in a way that meets their needs. And to borrow from one of life’s truisms: honesty is always the best policy. The search engines aren’t stupid. They’re not built to tailor to the whims of businesses trying to exploit them. They’re built to serve relevant, appropriate content to the searching public. As long as you have a site that is designed and built to the highest standards, that provides a great experience for your users, with relevant, honest content that is tailored to their needs, you’ll always have the best possible chance of success.