The dangers of do it yourself search engine optimisation

4 November 2008 by Kevin Holdridge  
Filed under Search Engine Optimisation

The dangers of do it yourself search engine optimisation

SEO and the DIY electrician

I’ve always thought search engine optimisation (SEO) is a bit like electrics. If you’re brave enough, willing to read up on the basics, prepared to buy some tools, and have the time to spare, you can probably do most home electrical work yourself (let’s ignore the legal requirements for certification right now as they get in the way of this slightly tortured analogy). But, unless you’re motivated and diligent – and sufficiently dextrous – it will take you more time to get the job done than it would for a professional, and you won’t have access to the specialist knowledge, experience, and tools that would guarantee the quality of the job. Of course, unlike in electrics, with SEO you may not risk killing yourself if you get some of the basics wrong, but you can easily kill the investment in your Website.

Is DIY SEO really that risky?

Ok, we’re biased, but here are just a few real life examples we’ve come across in the last 6 months. These are all from people who tried doing their own SEO or – even more dangerously – employed a cowboy, and came to us as a result of their experience.

A site with no title tags in any of its pages

This is one of the biggest no-no’s in search engine optimisation as the title tag is the single most valuable element of every page. Huge waste of potential value – might as well give your competitors your business plan to make their lives easier. Doh!

Duplicate domain names

A client with multiple domain names had them set up so that the whole site was visible to search engines under 3 different domain names. Sounds innocent? Yes, but this elementary mistake meant that the SEO value of the Website was greatly and needlessly diluted. Worse, the site ran the risk of being identified by Google as an attempt to spam the results – that would have led to the site being removed from Google results entirely as a punishment. Ouch!

Copied by a competitor

A competitor had included a copy of our client’s entire Website within theirs in order to piggyback off the client’s search engine positioning and to steal prospective visitors. They had made the copied content visible only to search engines, not to human visitors. Our client had no strategy or tools in place to check for this kind of unethical practice so wasn’t even aware of it. When you know what you’re doing, it is quite easy to spot these tactics. You can then – depending on how aggrieved you feel – insist that the competitor desists or complain to Google and the other search engines, which may well remove the competitor from their results for breach of ethics. Whammo!

Huge spend on pay-per-click advertising

A client was spending thousands of Pounds every month on pay-per-click advertising on the advice of a cowboy. For less than one month’s advertising spend, we were able to optimise the client’s Website so that it reached the number 1 spot in Google and other search engines for searches on the most important keywords. The client saved £’000s every month. Wowza!

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