How to build web traffic without joining the dark side

Getting noticed online and building site traffic is what all digital marketers are striving towards, yet many struggle with SEO despite their best efforts. It's important not to be tempted to cheat and apply black hat SEO techniques or other such frowned upon practices. To make sure digital marketers aren't swayed to the dark side, our Senior SEO Consultant, Jake Roman-Capon, recently sat down to answer key questions marketers want to know more on to make sure they're able to build web traffic correctly.

What black hat grey hat SEO techniques will put you on the naughty list with Google, Facebook and Twitter?

Each company has different SEO techniques and no-go's to boot. Google has a long list of well documented tactics that could negatively impact your brand. A well-known example is cloaking, whereby you serve different content to search engines and users. Google spots this as its crawler's parse the source code of the page to find irregularities in the code that could suggest cloaking, and then a member of the web spam team will manually check the affected pages. If they're served wholly differently content on the search page to what a user is served, the site will be penalised.

Twitter and Facebook have a different way of spotting brands that are using bad tactics. It's commonplace to try and buy followers or likes, or even to set up fake zombie accounts to boost numbers. Additionally, there's the 'aggressive following technique'. This is when brands follow and/or like a large number of profiles each day, then wait for them to follow and/or like them back and then unfollow those who don't reciprocate. This leads to an artificially increased number of followers or likes. However, it's important to remember that it's not about the number of followers or likes you have, but the engagement these followers have with your pages. Focus your attention on quality and interesting content to seed out to your followers - it's a greater use of time and man hours than artificially increasing your numbers.

What should a business be doing to build traffic legitimately?

It may seem obvious, but make sure your website is technically 'in shape' and keep up to date with Google Webmaster guidelines so you can futureproof your strategy. In addition to this, confirm that all of your important pages are keyword optimised with relevant title tags, headers and engaging content. Finally, ensure all clicks are earned, which can be done by introducing innovative content campaigns - SEO may not seem creative but by thinking out of the box, you can raise awareness and drive attention to your brand.

What are the consequences of using the incorrect tactics?

Brands will feel the wrath if they try and use black or grey hat tactics. Your website can be penalised by Google algorithms, such as Panda or Penguin, and the web spam team - and the penalisation can vary from page-level to site-level too. The penalisation will result in a drop in organic rankings, which will consequently harm your organic traffic. If you're penalised by either the Panda or Penguin algorithm, you'll even see the impact in real-time once you make changes, as the penalties happen in a very speedy manner.


This article was first published in the November issue of PC Pro.

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