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September 4, 2010
SEO for Today and Tomorrow
How many of you think that the SEO you do today may be considered search engine spam one day when they tweak their ranking criteria?

I bet a good portion of you answered yes, which is exactly what your SEO company wants you to believe so that you’ll keep paying them to “keep up with the latest algorithm changes.”

The real story

If you (or your SEO company) is not using spammy SEO tactics, there’s no need to worry about changing search engine rules.

Good, professional SEO that puts users first while keeping search engines in mind will never be considered spam by any stretch of a search engineer's imagination. Spamming the search engines takes a concerted effort and is done in an attempt to make low-quality websites or content show higher in the search results than they should.

While keyword stuffing in all its forms -- be it in the copy, in the title tags, within image alt attributes, or in anchor text -- is search engine spam; it’s not professional SEO. The same thing can be said of useless off-page SEO through link farms, low-quality directories that nobody visits, useless article submission sites, and the like. That’s not SEO -- it’s spam.

The short-term results you might find when keyword stuffing and link farming definitely can be nuked in the next Google algorithm change. Again, search engine spam isn’t professional SEO.

If your site has been affected by a change in the search engines, are you sure you were making your website better for the people who visited it, or were you pushing the envelope a bit to squeeze just one more keyword into it? If you're honest with yourself, chances are you may realize that you went overboard with things.

Just because your "spam" increased your rankings for a while doesn't mean that it was a true SEO tactic -- it was always spam whether you thought about it that way or not. And that's what confuses people.

Why search engine spam is bad

Search engine spam is never a good idea, not because you might get caught, penalized, or banned. You probably won't, at least not until you've made quite a lot of money off your technique. It's wrong because it makes your site worse, not better overall. More than that, it makes for a bad search experience. We all have to use search engines, and there's nothing more frustrating than having low-quality garbage show up at the top of the results.

Let’s face it: The search engineers don't change their rank formulae all the time because they're bored, nor do they change them to stick it to innocent website owners. They tweak them so that they can preserve the relevancy of their search results. If search engine spammers weren't out there vying for positions at all costs, fewer search engine tweaks would be made.

Sadly, our world is composed of many people who will take any system and exploit it for their own gain. It's a fact of life that creates a constant battle between search engines and search engine spammers.

This brings us back whether today's SEO tactic might be considered tomorrow's spam.

The answer, of course, is a resounding no! No legitimate SEO technique will be considered search engine spam because real SEO enhances a website as well as the search engine results. Professional SEO makes it easier for the search engines to show the best, most relevant results to their searchers.

If you suddenly lose a good portion of your search engine visitors, be sure to look carefully at the techniques you were using. Were they truly good ones? Did they enhance your website for all its target audiences? Did they make the search results more relevant or less, or did you make them just because they were easy and it seemed like a good idea at the time?

Your answers to those questions should help you decide how gain back your relevant search traffic and keep it.

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As an SEO Consultant, Jill Whalen has been providing her no-nonsense, practical SEO advice since 1995. If you learned from this article be sure to sign up for Jill's popular High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter to keep up with the latest information in the ever-changing world of SEO. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen, "Like" her at Facebook, and "Circle" her on Google+.

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