Today I discovered that a company in the same business as one I work with copied almost the entire front page of our website onto their website. All they changed was the city and region of the UK. They even forgot to change the name of the company, so the page still had the name of our company on their website!
I contacted the website owner, who took the page down right away. He blamed a bad SEO company, and I believe him.
Darrin why not?
There are shortcuts for short term results and there is the proper way for long term but effective results. So there is proper and improper way to get SEO done.
If you didn't write the search engine, there is no "proper" way to optimize it. Everything that isn't just bundled up in the concept of creating a better site is essentially an attempt to game the system and/or an insult to the people who run the search engine. It breaks down to:
"If you search for X on Google, Google thinks you should see A, B, C, D... I selfishly want people to see my site instead, so I'm going to do things that have nothing to do with useful content to try and raise my ranking."
Everyone taking that approach enters into an arms race that makes the web worse overall. As a freelancer, if I see a company that has past hires for SEO work, it is a sign they are a lower quality client and I'm much less likely to apply for any newer jobs they post.
"Good" SEO starts with insuring a given site can be indexed and crawled by search engine spiders.
(Try finding something in a book that has no table contents; no index; no alternate text; and only has images. Same difference).
This has NOTHING to do with "tricking" the search engine.
Google has guides on how to structure your website; and what to avoid if you don't want to get penalized by them.
Some SEO "experts" don't have a clue; that does not mean (proper) SEO itself is worthless.
@Marcia ... What you have mentioned about conversion rates and "It's not about optimizing for the Search engine; it's about optimizing for potential customers.". This kind of contradicts the term SEO(Search Engine optimization) . The practices of optimizing conversion rates (like using a heat map tool) are more related to Internet marketing and web design. Also the issue you have mentioned is more related to website cloning/Copyrights violation instead of SEO.
The practices of SEO are focussed on getting optimally indexed and may be getting better ranked at search engines. Gerry made some interesting points about WhiteHat and BlackHat SEO .It is rather a controversial topic whether or not SEO is ethical or can be termed as "gaming the system". But as long as it is not considered breaking a law, website owners will continue on SEO(futile or not).
P.S: My intent here is not to contradict the seo experts here but just to participate in the discussion as I am very much interested in the topics of IM.
I meant optimize for potential customers who will be using the search engines. There's no point getting to the top of search if the people who are going to click on your link in the search engine are not going to like or care about what they see on your website. The bad SEOers are the ones who promise to get you to the top of Google without clarifying for what search terms or how that will help your business in the long run.
Good SEO is a component of internet marketing and SEO experts worth paying for will understand marketing principles. Hiring someone to do "make me number one in Google" SEO without having someone who understands marketing on your team, whether that's the SEO person, someone who works alongside them, or you, is a waste of your time and money. You get what you pay for.
Marcia, I suspect we agree more than we disagree, but what you call "good SEO" is simply what I classified as "bundled up in the concept of creating a better site". That is to say, I don't think you can properly bring in somone after-the-fact as a "specialist" who does SEO.
I've worked in the marketing sector so I know the actual efforts that go into making a site popular. The best approach was always to have good designs and developers doing solid scientific data gathering (e.g., A/B testing) that was built into the system from the start. Everything else, which constitutes the vast majority of what gets sold as SEO, is bunk.
There is no way it'll "work" to get more than 10 people into the top 10 results for a search term. Worse, the more you abuse how the search engine is designed to function, the more likely they are to drop you out of results completely. Going from a rank of 20 to 2 to 200 is a kind of optimization, I suppose.
And people often pay a lot of money for things that just do not work. There are all sorts of scams an SEO peddler can run to make it look like they're doing something valuable when in reality they are not. Look at it this way, if someone can actually turn a search into a sale (aka, a conversion), they should be eager to work entirely on commission. I don't see them doing that, do you?
I actually know a company that if they don't get you x amount of leads per month there is no charge. So there are some companies out there who are not scamming the system.
Still sounds scammy to me. Leads are easy to fabricate. Heck, there are job posts even here on oDesk that are all about generating fraudulent traffic/likes/etc. You have to use more scientific metrics if you really want to tease out how to better target a product to its intended audience.