Every dentist wants to see results when they hire a dental SEO company to boost their rankings. And plenty of those companies promise amazing increases to search visibility and guaranteed “first page” positions.
But, if you’re not careful, you can get suckered into working with a company that relies on unscrupulous tactics, commonly known as “black hat” SEO. Those tricks can sometimes work temporarily to improve results, but they rarely have any lasting, long-term ranking benefit. Plus, if Google catches on to your deception (as it usually does), the person who will be penalized is you, not the SEO provider.
Do I have you a little worried as to whether or not you’re in a bad SEO relationship? Here are a few warning signs you should look out for.
This involves overloading your website’s content and meta tags with targeted keywords in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings. If it seems to you like your targeted keywords are repeated WAY too much on your page, you may be guilty of this. If it doesn’t feel like it’s written for humans, it is overdone.
This tactic involves presenting different content to users than what is presented to search engines. Basically, that means natural, readable content for humans, but overly optimized content for search bots. Cloaking is achieved by using hidden text, redirects, or other tricky methods to hide what the search engines see from human eyes.
Pages that are created solely for the purpose of ranking for a particular keyphrase just to funnel users into your dental website are also a no-no. These doorway or gateway pages have no real value for the users.
Backlinks are very valuable for increasing your website’s relevance scores, but only if they are quality links. The black hat SEO approach of purchasing links from other websites violates Google’s webmaster guidelines and can result in penalties. Other link schemes, like exchanging links with irrelevant or low-quality websites, can also harm your website’s search engine rankings. Private blog networks (PBNs) are another discouraged backlink trick where a network of websites is created solely for the purpose of linking back to your website.
Copying and pasting content from other websites or using the same content across multiple pages on your own website can lead to duplicate content issues and harm your website’s search engine rankings. This can often be an innocent mistake by do-it-yourselfers, but can still be penalizing for your rankings.
Uh oh, what now?
If you come to the unsettling realization that you are the victim of black hat SEO, you need to make some changes before you’re penalized. It’s probably your best bet to sever ties with the company that lead you astray and start fresh with a reputable dental SEO partner.
Ask them what they promise to deliver, and how they intend to accomplish it for you.
(It also wouldn’t hurt to take a peek at their hat rack.)