How to Know if Your SEO Company's Black Hat Tactics have Turned You into a Web Spammer

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So you’ve gone out and gotten yourself an SEO Company to get some love from Google. Great! But did you hear the one about JC Penney and how their SEO company’s black hat SEO tactics got them penalized by Google?

Black Hat SEO Tactics

Just like hiring any other agency, it’s important that you exercise due diligence when dealing with your SEO company. Almost every SEO company in Malaysia we’ve seen so far professes to engage in only white hat SEO methods.

But how can you ensure that’s the case? What kind of checks or reports should you request to ensure what happened to JC Penney won’t happen to you?

The main culprit in the JC Penney case was spammy link building. They had backlinks from sites such as “bulgariapropertyportal.com” and “nuclear.engineeringaddict.com” – unless JC Penney started selling plutonium, it’s obvious that these links were irrelevant. This is also possibly the most common issue here in Malaysia. So what can you do to prevent being penalized from this black hat SEO tactic?

How to Spot Spammy Link Building

Here’s a huge red flag – your SEO company tells you that links are all you need for SEO, and that they can get thousands upon thousands of links for you without creating any additional content. Ever since the Panda and Penguin updates, penalties against such activities have become more common (and severe). In fact, we’ve noticed that many top ranking sites (in Singapore at least) have started backtracking and cleaning up their link profiles to avoid getting penalized.

How to Check if Your Firm’s Using Black Hat SEO Tactics

  1. So how can you, Mr/Ms CMO, spot if your SEO company is about to get you in trouble? Request a monthly link profile report and randomly check on the links that your SEO company created for you. In fact, your agency should already be offering this report. Ensure that the links are from reputable sources that are relevant to your website. That means that if you’re a local pizza parlour, there’s no reason you should be getting a link from that property portal in Bulgaria.
  2. Alternatively, use the free service on Ahrefs to check those links for yourself.

I know you must be asking yourself why should you bother with this whole black-hat-white-hat issue if you’re still getting results (for now)?

Firstly, it goes against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Secondly, it’s much easier to get caught now and the penalties are more severe.

A typical SEO campaign costs around RM5,000 (anything much less is suspect). You’re already paying quite a bit, so why are paying for irrelevant, low quality links? You know, the kind that Mother Google said could get you banned from the search engines?

Why not just take that opportunity to create compelling content that will help your branding and increase your conversion rates?