Dangerous search marketing techniques to avoid.

Some methods of online advertising are harmful and should not be used.

Search engine optimization is a field that many webmasters and blog owners are not comfortable with and instead of doing the work for themselves, hire out. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, there are many less than reputable SEO's on the web who are more than willing to take your money for low quality services. It is hard for many business owners to protect themselves from dubious SEO service providers without a basic knowledge of subject.

Search engine marketing is the method to promote websites in hopes of ranking them on the first page of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. For instance, if you own an e-commerce website that sells shoes, it would be beneficial for your site to rank on the first page for keywords like "best shoes online", "shoe deals", "quality shoes cheap" etc. By ranking in the top 10 for search results related to your businesses industry and field, your business is much more likely to create new customers and potential sales than if they were not on the first page for relative keywords.

The problem for small business owners, is that there are methods of influencing search engines that are looked down upon by the Google, Yahoo and Bing. If your website is caught or known to use such methods, there are a variety of penalties the search engines can emplace, the worst being de-indexing a site from the searches completely. When this occurs, your site will not be viewable without users typing in your web address directly into their internet browser, or use one of the search engines that is less popular and not a good place to find potential business anyways. Here are a few search marketing techniques to avoid:

  • Automated blog commenting software.
    • There are a few different types of automated blog commenting programs available. They spam any and all blogs with the comment function available with whatever sentence or comment you want. A link is then directed back towards your website with an anchor text targeting a keyword in your business niche. These types of blog comments are rarely related to the subject matter of your business making them a red flag to the search engines as irrelevant. Not to mention they have very little "link-juice" allocated to them in the first place. (If a company or person offers to create 10,000 blog comments for your website as an SEO service, it is time to walk away.)
  • Forum profiles and links, especially those created with automated software.
    • Links emanating from profiles used to be a great way to promote ones website. If you are an active user in a community forum, it only makes sense that you should get some credit towards your own website. Well, links that stem from forum profiles have been de-valued until they are almost worthless. This is due to automated programs such as Xrumer that can create 60,000+ profile links in a couple hours. Google, Yahoo and Bing do not want websites to have the ability to create thousands upon thousands of backlinks in a single day, that could potentially manipulate search results. Massive Xrumer blasts have the potential to drop websites in the SERP's, as well as get a site completely de-indexed. Stay away from forum profile links as an SEO strategy.
  • Article directories and submissions.
    • Submitting articles to different directories around the internet doesn't have the same negative consequences as spamming blog comments and forum profile links, but it does have very little value for improving rankings. Article directories are nothing new, and have been around for quite awhile. SEO's learned many years ago that placing a link to a website with the appropriate anchor text would create a quality backlink that would improve rankings in the searches. Because this fact became so well known article directories have been filled with content that is of very little value to anyone. The search engines don't want to give ranking power to websites that are not beneficial to the internet community as a whole. So recently the link values associate with articles has been dropped drastically. Submitting a few articles to reputable directories is not a bad thing, just don't base an entire SEO campaign on article marketing. If an individual or company touts article marketing as a great way to promote your website, it is time for your to go elsewhere.
  •  Link farms.
    • Google, Yahoo and Bing despise link farms. Associating your website or business with a  link farm is a very bad choice if you want to rank well in the SERP's. Link farms are websites that have zero written content except for the anchor text given to outbound links. These sites usually charge a fee of something like $10 for 1,000 backlinks. Basically they will create an outbound link on 1,000 of their link farm web pages. Links emanating from such websites are worthless and have been known to cause pages to drop in the search rankings. Do not ever associate your webpage with a link farm, it can only do harm. 
  • Link exchanges
    • Link exchanges can be beneficial for websites, but in general they are not. Link exchanging is simply placing a link of someone elses websites on your own webpage in return for them doing the same. If the two websites are from similar niches or industries, then the exchange can be beneficial for both sites. The problems occur from two different sources. If you participate in link exchanges with anyone who offers, there is a great chance that many of the websites you link too are not related to the content of your own page. The search engines don't like when webpages associate themselves with unrelated content, it is another red flag pointing towards blatant search result manipulation. Which is never a good thing. Another problem with link exchanges, is that one site will always be held higher in the eyes of the search engines. If your site is considered the more reputable page with great content, then you have nothing to worry about because your site will be chosen as the authority. However, if the site you linked too is considered the authority on your industry, then you are just promoting quality backlinks for your competitor. Their site will rank above yours in the searches  . In general link exchanges are something to be avoided.

There are many different ways to create backlinks, this article by no means encompasses them all. It is a guide for those who have no background in SEO and internet marketing, in hopes of protecting them from SEO companies that give the industry a bad name. As well as protect their websites and livelihoods from being penalized by the major search engines. Search algorithms are changing on a regular basis, so one form of backlinking that is appropriate today might not be tomorrow. As well as methods frowned upon today might be acceptable in the future. Once must always be growing and learning when search marketing is concerned. But if you avoid some of the common services advertised, that are mentioned above, you should be well protected against any penalties implemented by Google, Yahoo and Bing.