blackhatThere are a lot of companies out there offering internet marketing, but just like any industry, there are best practices that are lost on the consumer. Below are some warning signs when working with an internet marketing company:

  1. Guaranteeing the #1 spot on Google. This cannot be done as no one controls Google’s algorithm. A company that promises the top spot is either using unethical SEO measures or  ranking you for a long keyphrase with very little competition in order to trick you into “amazing” results.
  2. Requiring a one-year contract, often with a multitude of restrictions and references to proprietary information if you ask for more information about what work is really being done on a monthly basis.
  3. Having a contract that is unclear about how and what they are doing to promote your business. Like any contract, do not sign it until you fully understand what is being done. In fact, you may wish to get a copy of the contract and have someone you trust, that understands the Internet, explain the contract to you. If you don’t understand the language used, you won’t know for sure if, or how, they are doing their job.
  4. Beware of either exceptionally high or low pricing. Don’t just hire the first Internet marketing company you find. Consider talking to, and getting bids from several companies, so you have a good price range and it will help to orient you to the different terminology and services offered so you can make a more wise decision. However, do be sure that when comparing companies that you are comparing like with like.
  5. What type of/how often are emails being sent, if email marketing is involved? Perhaps one of the most unethical, and annoying, business practices is that of spam. People do not like to get junk mail. Repeated email from the same company only serves to get ignored, blocked, and possibly make people mad. It rarely, if ever, causes someone to make a purchase.
  6. Not being “upfront” with e-mail content. Be sure that you approve of any e-mail content created by the Internet marketing company.  Be sure that Internet marketing company you choose sends minimal e-mails, which are right for the audience you want to reach. It is your reputation at stake, and a good one cannot be bought!
  7. Not being forthright in how they utilize SEO. As one of the most effective tools in the Internet marketer’s toolbox, there are many ways that SEO can be accomplished. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to take the time to do it right. Rather, some companies opt to take shortcuts and/or employ a variety of Black Hat SEO techniques. (Keep in mind, that while these Black Hat methods may get you a high rank initially, in the long term that boost may be negated as search engines become smarter at detecting these strategies!)Here are some common Black Hat practices to be aware of:
  • Keyword stuffing – Packing a webpage with keywords, but having little useful content
  • Doorway pages – HTML pages designed to only be read or seen by search engines.
  • Invisible text –Hiding list of keywords on the background of a page by using a matching font and background color
  • Bait and switch – Loading a page with popular keywords, even if it has nothing to do with the actual search
  • Meta tag stuffing – Like keyword stuffing, except the words are listed in the Meta data fields…not as common these days as most search engines now put little emphasis on the meta keyword tag because of this practice
  • Backlink buying – Paying for or receiving compensation for backlinks to a website. Google does not approve of this method and so you want to be very careful about what links you pay for and why. Paying $299 to be reviewed and listed in the Yahoo Directory is fine, paying a company to give you 10,000 backlinks, indiscriminate of where they are…not so fine usually.
  • Pyramids – Creating many sites just so those sites can be back-linked to each other. Also called link-farming, and Google is pretty good at figuring this out eventually and negating any boost you may get in rankings by using this method.
  • Duplication – Using content from other sites just to make sure your site appears to have plenty of updates and content…and even worse is repeating the same content on your own site over and over but just switching out choice key phrases like “Raleigh NC” with “Durham NC” is a no no.

As you can see, there are numerous activities and actions to be aware of when hiring an Internet marketing provider. And whether it is Black Hat SEO practices or being secretive with your company’s Web information, this can hurt your business. We never employ Black Hat practices. Should you hire us to do Internet marketing, social media, or any other aspect that helps your business, we believe that you should be able to see an improvement in your site’s page ranking by using above board methods and we will always be transparent with you on what we are doing. Should you be concerned about how your Internet marketing is being approached, talk to us. We are happy to help you succeed.