What could be the possible backlash if we did our SEO wrong and how do we recover from it?
This is a great question, and it’s one I get a lot from business owners who are new to the idea of content marketing, digital marketing and search engine optimization. It’s usually worded something like this:
“I’m a SEO newbie so before I implement all the possible ways of optimizing our website, I just want to know what could be the possible repercussions if we did our SEO the wrong way? Will our website be banned from search engines, especially from Google? Or any other worst-case scenario? And if this happens, how can we remedy the situation? Please do advice, thanks in advance.”
The backlash from not doing your homework on SEO can ultimately lead a loss in organic search visibility. Only the worst offenders buying spammy backlinks, stuffing websites with keywords and using a great deal of black hat SEO techniques are completely removed from the index. This is pretty rare for business owners unless you hire an SEO company and don’t stay educated about what they’re doing for you.
It can also happen when you take your SEO advice from random blogs.
In most cases, business owners who attempt online marketing and optimization without research and a clear strategy (and occasionally slip into small violations of the Google TOS) will find that their rank drops. This can be a drop of a few spots on the same page, or getting dumped 10, 20, 40 or more pages back in the index.
Google doesn’t do this to penalize you, or intentionally hurt you in anyway because you did something terribly wrong. It’s done because Google is a business. Their mission is to deliver the best possible search results to every “customer”. If people are gaming the results and they’re not delivering value, Google doesn’t want you at the front of the pack – so you get bumped.
In most cases, fixing the issue remedies things in short order. the next time your site is indexed, and there are no red flags, you’ll see things improve. The only downside is that you aren’t typically notified of where you went wrong.
Because of the variety of approaches to SEO, there’s a lot that you can do that is wrong, but there’s plenty you can do right. Most things are easy to fix however. If you take the time to look through the Google TOS -and- check out the SEO Periodic Table of Ranking Factors on Search Engine Journal, you’ll have a good idea of what to avoid.
Bad quality link building and paying for spammy links is usually where a lot of business owners an marketers get burned. Google is making it easy to fix this however, as they’re introducing a tool to let you disavow links in case you wound up with some links in bad neighborhoods that are hurting your rank.
The best weapon to avoid getting slid back in the search results is to always build your strategy around content. focus on creating value, don’t try to stuff keywords in. Make it sharable, easy to find, easy to access and digest, and make sure there’s a real take away. Social sharing and content marketing are the new link building tools.
It makes sense that if a local business wants to dominate locally, then they need to create a localized strategy. A broad online campaign won’t deliver the same results on a local level. You need to get hyper-focused on your digital marketing strategy for local SEO.
Now more than ever, consumers and clients – your target audience – are turning to the web over other mediums in order to obtain information on local businesses and sales. According to TMP and ComScore a massive 83% of local search users contacted businesses offline, with 46% of consumers making contacts over the phone and 37% visiting the businesses in person, and half of all local business searchers eventually made purchases as a result of their searches.
Last March, the Federal Trade Commission reported that they had levied a fine of $250,000 against the Legacy Learning and Smith company. The fine originated due to their use of online bloggers who were paid to produce reviews and endorsements for the products. The intent was to stimulate credibility among readers in order to generate purchases and clicks for the Legacy Learning and Smith company.
Since 2009, the FTC has been ramping up its efforts to put an end to this kind of paid endorsement. They explicitly underscore that this sort of back-scratching between paid reviewers (“critics”) and companies selling products and services is far from okay.
Being caught by the FTC and getting a heavy slap on the wrist (and the wallet) isn’t the only reason you should avoid this kind of blatant disregard for authenticity. You’re also lying to your customers.
Search marketing and local SEO in Alabama isn’t just about visibility, it’s about building real credibility. That comes from establishing and working on relationships founded in trust. When you sponsor reviews and pay for “critics” to talk up your products and services in local SEO boosting sites like Google Places and Yelp, you’re risking serious harm to your credibility.
Here are 3 Reasons Paid Reviews Are Bad for Local SEO (and your business…)
Consumer Savvy Continues to Grow
It’s easy for some business owners to think of their consumers as simple-minded people browsing, but the majority of your target audience is anything but a bunch of rubes. The more time people spend online, the more they’re able to sniff out disingenuous content. Start using paid reviews to bolster your local SEO and watch how quickly red flags go up. Your audience will avoid you like the plague.
Those who do business with based on those reviews, who then have a different experience, are going to feel extremely cheated. Thus begins the negative word of mouth and even more harm to your brand.
Associating your brand and your business with this kind of deceptive local SEO marketing might net you a short term profit, but it decreases your long-term visibility, return customer base and consumer loyalty.
If you’ve got a great product or service, you shouldn’t have to rely on local SEO based in fake reviews to market yourself
Dishonest Local SEO Marketing is a Gateway Drug
If you can’t see the ethical issues that reveal themselves in paying someone to deliberately mislead your consumers, then you’re leaving yourself wide open to utilizing more devious (and deceptive) marketing gimmicks.
You might think “this is OK, but I would never do X”, you’re lying to yourself. When it comes to business ethics, you’re either honest, or you’re not.
The Staggering Risk of Viral Negativity
Remember how quickly the videos spread that showed a FedEx driver throwing a television over a fence during one delivery? How far did that message reach? You might think that your average consumer won’t notice or care about your little local SEO dishonesty with some paid reviews, and you might not worry at all about the ethical implications, but you should know there are some savvy people out there who know how to get the word out.
And they’re connected in all the right ways, and can get the word out in just the right time that you could wind up with a viral backlash.
It might start with a simple blog post, but what if that blog is read by another more influential blogger who decides to name your business as a stark example on how NOT to approach local SEO marketing? What if that “how not to do this” goes viral across the web? You got the exposure you wanted, but not in the right way. Now no one will touch your brand.
If you want to focus on a Local SEO strategy, focus on quality content. Don’t pay for bad, biased reviews. That’s bad business, period.