7 signs your SEO specialist is using “Black Hat Techniques”

I’ve mentioned why not to use “black hat techniques” in other articles. The problem with “black hat techniques” is that they seem to work initially, but then they stop working. Google is penalizing you for these methods that try to circumvent their algorithms. Your rankings suddenly drop like a rock. Google may even ban your website so that you are never ranked again. So, unless you only plan to be in business for a couple of months, “black hat techniques” should be avoided at all costs. Since websites that have good organic rankings sell more products and services than paid advertising, having an ethical SEO specialist is essential. But, how do you know if your SEO specialist is using them?

1.    During the “sales pitch,” the salesperson makes unrealistic claims.

The most common complaint I hear from some clients who have had a bad experience with another agency is that the company claimed they would be on the first page of Google in less than 30 days with highly competitive keywords. When I ask if they were planning to use Google Ads, I am told, “no this is supposed to be with organic results.” Organic results take time. This claim is a bad sign. Highly competitive keywords take months, or sometimes even years to reach the first page of Google, if at all. Especially if you are competing with large companies that have been in business for many years.

2.    You have difficulty getting a copy of your contract.

While technically this isn’t a sign of poor SEO habits, it is concerning. You should be able to get a copy of the contract at signing. If not, why not? If it is a matter of not having a copier, your smart phone can act as one. Some apps double as a fax/copier. Or, even take a picture of the pages. You can generally blow them up enough to be able to read your contract easily.

3.    Daily blogs are quite inexpensive.

Copywriters aren’t cheap. At least not good ones. Experienced SEO copywriters are even more expensive. If you are paying less than $1000 a month (likely more) to your marketing agency for daily blogs, the agency you are using may be using canned blogs. Probably from a content farm, or they may even be copying other people’s blogs leaving you open to copywriting issues. It’s a good idea to run the blogs through a plagiarism checker. Several free plagiarism checkers are available on the web. Or, even more accessible, copy the first paragraph of the blog into Google’s search bar. If it’s somewhere on the internet, that method will likely find it.

4.    Poorly written daily blogs

Blogs that have many spelling and grammar errors can be a sign that your blog is from a content farm that uses copywritten by a non-native speaker. These often come from content farms. Also, do they have relevant content that gives useful information about your profession? Daily blogs that don’t provide helpful information do not help with your SEO. While some fluff is ok, too much won’t improve your SEO. Google is looking for valuable and relevant material. Your blog should be well written and provide rich content for the user experience. It is better to have rich content posted periodically than poor content posted more frequently. Remember, Google is looking for content, usefulness, and relevance. A good SEO writer not only does the writing but also does a fair amount of research. (Research is, in large part, the reason copywriters are expensive. Also, your blog articles should be a minimum of 250 words with headings and broken into smaller sections.)

5.    Daily blogs don’t stick to the topic or just read “funny.”

Humor and analogies can be great for engaging the reader. You want your blogs to read well. You don’t want your keywords overused, or just plain irrelevant keywords. Your blog should read naturally. Odd sounding content is a sign of keyword misuse.

6.    Too many backlinks

Back links are excellent for your SEO. However, they should be of high-quality. Be suspicious if your SEO provider says they will get you hundreds of backlinks the first month. Backlinks from poor quality sites are not only not helpful but can backfire as Google penalizes your rankings for this. Bear in mind, however, that blogs pushed out to your social media are considered high-quality backlinks. Many daily you have a blog; you will likely have a few high-quality backlinks. They are usually pushed out to sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and even Reddit. Unless it contains video, it won’t be pushed out to YouTube. Nor is it likely to be pushed to Instagram. Guest blogs are a great way to get high-quality backlinks, as well. Ask where the agency posts your blog.

7.    Reporting is limited to custom reporting by your agency.

Any reputable agency might provide you some internal reporting, but they also provide reports from a 3rd party platform. The most common is Google Analytics. If you don’t have access to your Google Analytics account, ask for it. Reports from Google Analytics can be provided through shared access or by regularly scheduled emails. And, if you aren’t receiving this from Google Analytics or similar platform (SEM Rush, for instance), run.

In conclusion, knowing if your SEO specialist is using “black hat” techniques is vital. While some methods are challenging to detect, these signs should help you spot many commonly used poor practices. If you find that your provider is using these techniques, it is a good idea to get a new agency. Preferably a more ethical one. Afterall, if you a expect to be in business for years to come, having your website rank will provide dividends for years to come. Remember, organic results tend to sell products and services better than paid results.

At Christy’s Marketing Solutions, our SEO specialists never use “black hat techniques,” only white hat ones. Afterall, the white hats always win in the end. For honest and ethical marketing, call Christy’s Marketing Solutions, today!