The Great Google Speed Trap
Every week, I get several dozen calls from business owners who are sick and tired of seeing their smaller, less authoritative competitors outranking them on Google for keyword phrases where their competitors are clearly NOT even close to being an authority in the real world. They want to hire Blue Corona to figure out what these high-ranking companies are doing and then replicate it at a higher dosage.
The trouble is, I already know what many of these companies are doing, and it often involves SEO tactics that disregard Google’s webmaster quality guidelines. Breaking Google’s rules is a bit like exceeding the speed limit on the highway. A lot of people seem to be doing both—allowing them to get ahead of those following the rules, all with no apparent consequence. Before you hop in the left lane and put the pedal to the metal, think carefully about the long-term consequences of getting pulled over by Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team (and the SEO industry equivalent of the Chief of Police).
The Problem with Speeding
Whether we’re talking about speeding or breaking Google’s rules, the cost of getting busted can be much greater than you imagine (especially if you happen to get caught speeding in the state of VA!!). Given a long enough timeline, you will get caught—it’s not a question of if; it’s a matter of when. If your journey in business is a short one, perhaps it’s possible to benefit from breaking the rules without getting busted. But if you view the path to business success as a marathon and not a sprint, I recommend you find another way to win the race.
Example: An SEO Company’s Dilemma
Blue Corona is one of the fastest growing online marketing agencies in the country, and we’ve also won all sorts of business awards, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find us for certain search phrases. For example, search “SEO gaithersburg” and Blue Corona is typically nowhere to be found. How in the world is that possible?! Our corporate headquarters is located at 7595 Rickenbacker Drive, GAITHERSBURG, MD 20879.
While some competitors may (understandably) dispute my contention that Blue Corona is one of the top online marketing companies in the country, I find it difficult to believe that anyone with any level of intelligence could make a reasonable argument that we’re not one of the top SEO companies in Gaithersburg, MD—if not THE top company.
When you look at some of the companies that are ranking for “SEO gaithersburg,” you find some pretty interesting things:
The website seen in the screenshot above has a domain authority of 26 (that’s 26 out of 100!). Have you ever heard of it? My guess is that you haven’t. Does it look like a website you’d use to educate yourself about anything???
As you scroll down the homepage of this site, you see articles on topics ranging from fishing in Canada to dog training in Maryland (yeah, you read that correctly). Read a couple of the articles. My son Jack can write better copy!! (Jack is five and seen at right). While some of Google’s webmaster guidelines are about as clear as a mud puddle, to me, this site is the epitome a “link scheme.” Not surprisingly, the website also contains spammy links to all the clients of the SEO company ranking for the keyword phrase in question.
At times, it’s tempting to join in and implement the same low-cost SEO techniques that are so clearly working. After all, why should we continue to hire full-time, professional copywriters—giving them benefits, matching 401K, etc.—to produce original content intended to provide real value to our prospective customers when gibberish written by people making $8 per hour will suffice?
Why should we continue doing this if Google is going to let sites investing in content that’s the equivalent of digital dog shit outrank us? I’ll give you a single reason: we’re in this for the long-haul and our goal is not to please the Google of today, but to become a trusted authority. Our goal is to build a remarkable company.
The Case for Slowing Down
The way to deal with competitors breaking Google’s rules is to change your SEO perspective from short-term to long-term. As a company, Google prides itself on creating scalable solutions that use technology vs. people. Through its various algorithmic updates, such as Panda and Penguin, Google appears to be slowly clamping down on web spam. A short-term, rule-breaking SEO plan might be working for your competitors today—but where will they be when the algorithm changes?
Once again, implementing SEO tactics that violate Google’s webmaster quality guidelines is a lot like speeding. Lose sight of your long-term goals and impulsivity takes over. Your foot starts to fall heavy on the gas pedal and your speed starts creeping well-above the posted limit. Next thing you know, the you’re being pulled over and you realize that the seconds you were saving by speeding are being quickly eclipsed by the minutes spent being lectured by the cops on the shoulder of the highway. (a personal lecture from Matt Cutts might actually be kind of cool, but keep dreaming ’cause it will never happen)
So, how can you beat competitors currently breaking Google’s rules? If you’d like to beat your competitors to a given destination, the sustainable strategy isn’t to break the law. It’s to chart a better course.
Charting a Better SEO Course
(Sadly) we live in a world of instant gratification. Everyone wants the quick fix and small business owners are no exception; in fact, with their limited budgets, they are more prone to seeking a magic bullet solution. It’s understandable for the local HVAC, plumbing, remodeling, etc. company to want to get the jump on their competitors, but don’t break the rules to do it. In order to succeed long term, you must establish and promote your business as THE authority for what you do in the markets you do it. Make no mistake about it, being the authority is not the easy, affordable option. It’s the really difficult, time consuming, and often expensive option. But unfortunately, you’re asking for trouble if you speed on a regular basis.
If need help developing a long term SEO strategy that follows Google’s webmaster guidelines, contact Blue Corona today. And if you think the Google police have caught you speeding and your site has been penalized, we can help. Give us a call.
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
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