The Good, Bad and Ugly of SEO Methods

I agree with a lot of what Derek Powazek wrote about the SEO industry inĀ Spammers, Evildoers, and Opportunists. His main gist is that the good SEO techniques — like using tags that match the semantics of the content and setting up 301 redirects when pages move — should just be considered good development practices, and that all the other crap is just polluting the web. If you want to be successful on the web, “Make something great. Tell people about it. Do it again.”

But, I do think he takes things a little too far, and makes some generaliztaions, over-simplifications and also some presuppositions about the types of sites he’s talking about. I think there are some SEO techniques that are ethical and help a site earn (not buy) a good ranking without hurting the web. So, I’ve sorted some of the most common techniques into Good, Bad and Ugly categories to help me when I’m trying to find a good SEO consultant.

The Good

  • Server configuration issues
  • Organizing and improving content
  • Unintuitive search engine quarks, like archived content being counted as a duplicate
  • Pay-Per-Click campaigns and other traditional advertising
  • Keyword research
  • Configuring Google’s Webmaster Tools
  • Training CMS users on good practices
  • Setting up 301 redirects
  • Pretty URLs
  • Not using images for text, not making the entire site in Flash
  • Don’t generate links with JavaScript
  • Using tags that are appropriate for the content

The Bad

  • Contrived link building schemes
  • Creating mini sites that link back to the real site
  • Paying other sites to publish articles you wrote about yourself
  • Buried on-site content written specifically for the search engines

The Ugly

  • Spam blogs
  • Comment spam
  • Duplicating content
  • Domain squatting
  • Hiding links and keywords
  • Google bombs
  • Cloaking content for search engines

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