Don’t Get Scammed by Spam

credit-card-invoice-scamRecently, we have had a local client who received an invoice for SEO services from a company called “Delta SEO”. They had never used this company, but checked with us to make sure it was nothing from our end. It wasn’t.

After doing a quick Google search on this supposed company, nothing seemed to be reputable – a bunch of 404 error pages, and redirected pages that just had the keywords “delta” and “seo” somewhere on the page. I changed the search to “Delta SEO Invoice” and immediately got a hit leading to more information. Thanks to a blog on Sky Tide Digital we quickly found out that our client wasn’t the only one to receive this “invoice”.

Unfortunately these scammers are popping up more and more and prey on small local businesses who potentially just receive a relatively small invoice and pay it. Luckily our client noticed something was off, and reported it to us. If you receive an invoice that looks off or is from a company you don’t remember doing business with, trust your gut. Doing a quick search to look for a reputable website, reviews or possibly other people who have also received these fraudulent invoices could be the difference between protecting your company or dealing with a headache with your finances.

Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO

As you can probably deduce from the category names, there are two different strategies SEO specialists can use, White Hat & Black Hat. White Hat SEO practices are favored because of practical approaches that focus on the user’s experience on a site as well as how the search engine views the site. Whereas, Black Hat SEO features practices solely focused on how the search engine perceives the site with the goal to only move higher on the rankings.

Black Hat SEO is a way of using shady SEO tactics in order to move quickly on the rankings, but will almost always hurt your SEO in the long run.

Common Black Hat techniques include:

  • Hiding text on a website – whether it is hiding it within the code (or in spammy structured markup), or just making it the same color as your background so it’s ‘invisible’ to the naked eye.
  • Link farms and Paid Links – Typically automated, a link farms is a group of sites that all link within each other, which may or may not have anything to do with each other. Paid links are exactly that – links that are purchased to achieve a higher ranking and gain link-popularity.
  • Keyword Stuffing – Adding keywords into the content, meta, titles, and tags, to the point where it doesn’t sound natural.
  • Scraping – Copying of content from a site or topic, just to have currently popular and ranking content available.

While Black Hat SEOs may see a quick ROI when they first implement these practices, it almost always catches up with them. When search engines find these techniques being used, the sites are promptly penalized and face a very hard uphill battle to earn that trust again.

White Hat SEOs typically have the longest turnaround times to get noticed by search engines and attain higher rankings, but there is also no risk involved, unlike Black Hat strategies.

Common White Hat techniques include:

  • Guest Blogging – Guest blogging is when a person separate from the site, writes and posts a blog for you. This is a win/win for everyone involved. The guest blogger receives a link to their own site, and you will receive links to the blog from the blogger promoting their work.
  • Quality Content – Content is key. With White Hat practices, the strategy isn’t just to get noticed and rewarded by the search engines, but also your users. It’s important that when visitors come to your site that they are finding the information that they want and need, and it’s written in a way that is understandable and easy to read.
  • Linking – Both internal and external linking is a big part of White Hat SEO strategies.
    • Internal linking helps to show the search engine a functional way to navigate and crawl the site, as well as helps the user experience find what they need. Nothing is more irritating than landing on a webpage, and having no idea how to find the next bit of information. Linking helps to ease that process.
    • External linking not only provides additional resources to your user, and backs up your claims, but it also shows the search engine that you’re an equal player in the online world. Just like you may ask for people to link to your site, you’re spreading the wealth and giving other reputable sites quality links, too.
  • On-Site Optimization – By far one of the biggest cornerstones in the SEO world is optimizing your site. Whether it’s updating content to reflect new changes in the industry or reworking your menu navigation to make more sense for the user, on-site optimization is what will help your site and hopefully keep people browsing for longer.

As with most things in life, nothing is ever just black and white. Even in SEO, there are also Gray Hat SEO practices. Less risky than Black Hat, but without the wait for updated rankings with White Hat, Gray Hat techniques still should be avoided, as they are still not in line with Google’s algorithms.

Common Gray Hat techniques include:

  • Three way link exchange – Different from a link farm, where all the sites link to each other, a three way link exchange is more of a link “chain”. For example, Site A will only link to B, Site B will only link to C, and Site C will only link to A.
  • Article Spinning – Article spinning is a technique where instead of directly plagiarizing a relevant article, it’s slightly tweaked or “spun” to avoid a penalty. Its far better to write a new article, than to tweak an existing one, to guard yourself from potential copyright infringement.

Just like you wouldn’t take your car to a shifty mechanic because you can’t fully trust what they are doing, you shouldn’t leave your website in the hands of Black Hat SEO tactics.

And if you’re a more visual learner, or just looking for a TL;DR, here’s a helpful infographic from CognitiveSEO.


Black Hat vs White Hat SEO
Original Infographic @ Black Hat vs White Hat SEO / Provided by cognitiveSEO

5 Things to Know Before Jumping into Pay-Per-Click

1) Your Audience

Your audience is the most important factor when starting PPC (pay-per-click). They are the one actively searching and buying your product or service, so it’s best to know how to target them. Targeting users can include sites they would frequently visit, where they are located geographically and general demographics, to name just a few.

2) Your Goal for Adwords

What are you looking to accomplish by using Adwords? Are you trying to get more people to visit your site? Are you trying to build brand awareness? Knowing what you would like to use Adwords for will help answer a lot of setup questions. For example, if you are a newer company and are just hoping to get your name out there, display ads may be the way to go, but if you are established and want to increase how many people contact you via your website, search ads may be your avenue.

3) Your Target Cost Per Lead

Your cost per lead is a great number to know regardless, but in Adwords, this will help to make sure your money is being used effectively and efficiently. If you estimate that you will still make money if you pay $100 for a new sales lead, that amount is the highest you should aim for with paid ads. Once you go drastically over your cost per lead, you may find that your campaigns need adjusting, or that you should adjust your approach when using paid ads.

4) Level of Satisfaction with Your Website

Your ads will ultimately lead users to your website, where that needs to be the big selling factor for a user to call your business, submit a form or take an action. View your site as a consumer. Are you able to easily find information you’re looking for? Is it easy to contact your business should someone have questions? Is it mobile friendly? If you are able to answer no to any of those questions, there may need to be a bit of improvement on your site before launching a campaign.

5) PPC Isn’t a Band-Aid; it’s a Supporting Factor

At MPW, we suggest that PPC should complement your other marketing initiatives, especially your online marketing initiatives. Specifically, when you are working on the SEO for your website, PPC helps to establish more real estate on the search engine results page (SERP) than just a paid ad or organic listing, alone. Seeing your paid ad, and then coming across an organic listing, helps to make an association from the keyword the user is searching to your brand that you are an expert. Especially if the user then clicks on the organic listing, this is even better. You receive the benefit of getting the click organically, with the real estate of two listings, without having to pay for the click.