SEO for Contractors – 5 SEO Techniques to Avoid

There are many SEO techniques for speeding up the process of rising to the top of Page 1 of search engines like Google. All of these techniques involve telling search engines that the website is going to be useful to searchers. However, it’s important to avoid techniques which misrepresent a website to the search engines. In the long run, these hurt rankings.

First, a short review of SEO techniques:

On-Site SEO Techniques

Some SEO techniques are on-site — the website itself is modified. For example, an electrical website can be beefed up with articles on how to change a circuit breaker, prevent electrical fires, and other information useful to someone looking for help with their electrical.

Off-Site SEO Techniques

Other techniques are off-site. These techniques involve telling the search engines that a site is so useful to searchers that many other websites link to it. For example, a plumber’s website which has a lot of plumbing tips might be linked to by a home improvement website. Or the plumber might have written an article for an on-line magazine website that links back to his plumbing company’s site for more information. In each case, these are “backlinks” to his plumber website.

Each backlink is considered a vote of confidence. Search engines rank websites with many votes higher than websites with few. The original source of Google’s immense popularity as a search engine is that it was the first to rank websites according to their votes. Google’s innovation is that it depends on websites all over the world to tell it which are the most useful among themselves.

White Hat SEO Techniques

SEO techniques that are helpful to searchers are considered “White Hat” or ethical. Including a lot of useful content on a website and being linked to by other websites that consider your site’s content helpful are both White Hat SEO techniques. They enhance the value of the Internet by providing useful content and making it accessible to searchers.

Black Hat Search Engine Optimization Techniques

However, other techniques are designed to deceive search engines into ranking a site higher than its usefulness warrants. These are considered “Black Hat,” meaning unethical. If Google detects Black Hat techniques, it may lower the rankings of a website or even ban the website from the results it shows searchers. Here’s a list of SEO techniques considered by Google to be Black Hat. It’s safest to avoid them.

Throw-Away Directories.– A directory is a website that operates like Yellow Pages, listing businesses that customers can search through. For example, a customer looking for a painter might go to a home improvement directory, select the category “painter,” and look for the name of a particular painting contractor to call.

“Throw-away” directories are a type of directory set up entirely for the purpose of giving links to websites rather than allowing visitors to find a company within a particular trade.  The throw-away directory invites businesses to list themselves within the directory and requests payment or a link from the business website (a reciprocal link). Throw-away directories also profit by selling ad space on their website, so their pages are loaded with ads. They are poorly organized with many types of businesses jumbled together as they aren’t trying to be helpful to customers who are searching for a particular type of company.

However, there’s no clear-cut line between throw-away directories and legitimate directories. Throw-away directories are junkier and less inviting to searches by customers who are looking for businesses. The general rule that Google wants you to follow is not to pay for a link nor give a reciprocal link.

You may be solicited by services which offer to get you into “hundreds of directories.” Many of these are likely throw-away directories. It’s not worth paying to get into these directories and, if reciprocal links are given or money paid for the link, your rankings could be lowered.

Reciprocal Links – Owners of websites may offer to link to your website if you’ll link to theirs. That would be giving a reciprocal link, a practice generally frowned on by Google.

In some situations, reciprocal links are legitimate, however. You might want to provide your visitors with a link to your wholesale house. Your wholesale house might want to support you by providing a link to your contractor website. Here, the reciprocal links reflect a legitimate, relevant business relationship.

Avoid large-scale and indiscriminate reciprocal linking with unrelated websites.

Paid Links – Don’t pay directories to list your business so that they will link to your website. There’s one exception to this rule, Yahoo Business Directory. Search engines consider this directory to be legitimate despite the payment it requires.

Google has always said that they don’t allow the practice of buying links, but now they’re getting better at figuring out who is doing the buying. They’ve warned recently that they will be penalizing this Black Hat SEO technique more consistently.

Link Farms – Link Farms are websites that offer to give you links from many other websites provided that you create a page in your site that links to many other websites. Link Farms set up a network of inter-linking websites, each one of which includes a page full of links to other websites. It’s simply a bogus way to make it appear that your website is extremely popular with other websites. Creating a page of links to other websites involved in a Link Farm doesn’t work and can easily get you into trouble with Google.

Hiring a Black Hat SEOer – You may be approached by an SEO expert who promises to quickly move your site up the Google rankings. It’s important to know if you can trust that the SEO expert will avoid Black Hat techniques. Black Hat techniques for accumulating backlinks can work spectacularly at first. However, once the search engine checks for SEO tricks, your rankings can plummet and your site’s reputation with search engines can be damaged.

Google’s sophistication at picking up on Black Hat SEO is increasing all the time. So, a technique that paid off months or years ago may now simply cause you trouble.

No Need to Resort to Black Hat Techniques

There are many White Hat SEO techniques for accumulating backlinks to your website. The first step is to make your website easy to use and full of useful content so that other websites will want to link to it. Click here for more about an SEO program  which will boost your contractor website to the top of Page 1 of Google.