I read an article on E-consultancy earlier which got me thinking about the SEO industry. The blogger was discussing the importance of controlling expectations as a start-up business and not succumbing to the temptation of over-hyping what the firm can supply – as this can be detrimental to its reputation if it then fails to deliver.
This made me think about the complete disservice black-hat SEO has done to my industry. Optimising a website can have an incredible effect on traffic and therefore sales. Also, perhaps more importantly, failing to keep up with competitors’ rankings is like choosing to set up shop in a back street when they have a window on Oxford Road.
However, working in SEO, I often find I have to manage clients’ expectations after they have been exposed to over-hype elsewhere. Black hat or just inadequate consultants may have promised impossible targets – which then make the incredible results hard work can deliver seem disappointing.
It is bad enough having to work on a website which has been mangled with unethical tricks and penalised by the search engines until it ranks at the top of page eight. It is worse also working with a client who has been exposed to such excessive hype that you have to explain that no one really has a deal with Yahoo!, an agreement with Google or an understanding with Microsoft.
Eventually, when SEO is more widely understood and used, this will no longer happen. Until then, the damage black-hatters do to our reputation and to their clients’ sites is likely to continue.