Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results as opposed to Search Engine Marketing (SEM) which deals with paid inclusion." - Wikipedia. In English please... Search Engine Optimization is the process of getting your website listed higher in search engines without paying for placement.

It seems that in today's world anybody with a little bit of internet knowledge thinks that they can be an SEO Specialist: insert keywords here, submit site to search engines and wa-la instant SEO. Unfortunately it's not so easy; and neither is deciphering the legitimate SEO companies from the fly-by-nighters. Avoid these 5 SEO tricks and you will be on your way to a better ranked website without risking damage to your site or your reputation.

1. “We can successfully have your rankings increased within 48 hours!”

SEO is a time consuming process, anybody who says that you will see almost immediate results is lying to you. Any legitimate SEO Specialist will spend hours slaving over keyword research, conversion rates, traffic and ranking reports, etc. It will take days to implement SEO terms and weeks or even months to see the final effect of a higher page rank.

2. “We submit your site to 1,000s of Search Engines!”

I don't know about you, but I cannot even begin to name 10 reliable search engines, let alone 1,000's. Stick with Google, Yahoo! and Bing (formally MSN) and you will be fine, most other search engines piggy-back off these three anyways. Search engines these days don't even really need to have your site submitted, with all their spiders and robots they will pick-up a well optimized site on their own.

3. “We will get 1,000s of links to your site!”

Although this probably isn't an outright lie, it's not a safe SEO practice. Sure having a large number of links to your site is a good thing, but what you want is QUALITY links. SEO scammers will rely on "link farms" to generate links to your site and search engines don't like this, they don't like it so much it will actually decrease your ranking. Make the search engines happy and stick with a smaller number of quality links.

4. “We will optimize your site for $59.95 a month!”

I know that you've heard the old adage "you get what you pay for" and this could not be more true than in SEO land. See trick 1: Proper SEO takes time, and time takes money. Good SEO should cost you $1,000s of dollars, if you can't afford this you are better off buying a book about SEO and doing it yourself than getting scammed. And be sure before signing a contract that your SEO will be maintained after the initial optimization at no extra charge. Search engines often change algorithms, the way they rank sites, and competition for keywords and ranking can get pretty brutal in certain industries. If your SEO is not maintained, your rankings will slip.

5. “We guarantee you #1 Google ranking!”

Nobody, I repeat NOBODY, can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google, or any other search engine for that matter. Don't be weary of all guarantees though, often times reputable SEO companies will offer guarantees. These guarantees, however, are usually about an increase in your page ranking and not a guaranteed placement. If you are in a competitive industry often times a first page ranking may be difficult if not impossible to obtain even with the best SEO.

Choose Your SEO Company Carefully:

Now that you are on your way to identifying and avoiding SEO tricks you will still want to check out your SEO company carefully before signing on the dotted line. Some reliable sources for research are:

·         Check with the Better Business Bureau, see if any claims have been filed against them

·         WHOIS tools (such as, to find out who the domain is registered to and who the administrative/technical contacts are and if these contacts are legitimate

·         Google, type in the name of the company and scam and see if anything negative comes up

·         Also just Google the company's name, if they can't get themselves top ranking SEO how can you expect them to do it for you?