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Can SEO be bad for your website?

18th September 2012
Categories: google, seo


Let's assume that search engines work for users - that is, the search engines have the best interests of users at heart. If I search for "Oxford Web Designers" I want links to the best web design companies in Oxford, and if I search for "Aylesbury Cheese Shop" I want a cheese shop in Aylesbury. The search engines want to understand this, and their no.1 priority is to provide this information, before bombarding me with ads and other services - because without the quality information, there is no core service around which to hang the ads and the subsidiary stuff. 

Some commentators would like you to believe that this is not the case, and cite good evidence, but in the case of Google, ultimately, the overwhelming evidence - over the last 14 years - is that they believe in this core service.

When you run a search on Google, its job is to return a list of web pages in some sort of order. And the order is a combination of relevance to the search phrase and importance.

It's mildly complicated for a computer to find out how relevant a page is; it's immensely difficult for a computer to rate one website above another. It's difficult enough for a human, and humans can normally make use of more information - for example in rating the BBC website I use the knowledge I have about the BBC's offline activities (TV, Radio and so on). I also happen to have worked for the BBC (as a temp at BBC Worldwide, in my youth!).

Google has very little to go on in comparison, but over the years has added many measures to its measuring toolkit (also called its "algorithm" by some). So for example Google will find out about:

  • how long your website has been around
  • how much content you are adding to your website
  • how other websites rate your website, and how important those websites are

These major measures of importance are not a secret, and that's where the problem lies, because there's a whole industry built around tricking Google into thinking their customers' websites are more important than they really are.

And when I say "tricking", I mean cheating, lying, and generally spamming the internet with a load of junk.

For example, there are SEO people who generate thousands of robot-built pages in order to trick Google into thinking that a website's content is growing. Or SEO people who generate fake websites linking to their customers' websites.

When search engine people say they use "white hat" techniques, by the way, what they mean is "black hat". Nobody actually admits to being "black hat".

What they're trying to tell you with the "hat" business is that they're wizards who employ magic (that's a warning sign already), and that they're techniques generally fall under Google's radar.

But Google generally finds them out - as we know from the "panda" and "penguin" updates. And your website rank will suffer as a result.


Search engine marketing, done right, identifies what people are searching for when they want to find your product and service, and how to make your website genuinely more relevant and important.

If you're doing it right, you are not going to suffer, because, as all the evidence suggests, Google is genuinely interested in promoting relevant and important websites.

A genuine search engine marketing company will help you to:

  • Analyse the market
  • Create relevant niche pages
  • Structure the information
  • Build genuine content and links

And your website rank will not fail to grow.

Add your comment for "Can SEO be bad for your website?":

Very good article, Marcus! I like the Yes/No structure and it's written in plain English not nerd-speak ( or black hat speak!).

Helen Johns, 24 Oct 2012

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