I loved what I read on Zazzle Media by Patrick Hathaway on their SEO efforts to get out of their penalty with Google (with a Batman twist), so I thought I would take a shot relating some ‘black hat’ SEO tactics and my favorite show right now, Breaking bad.
Walter White got into the drug game for ‘good reasons’. After being diagnosed with cancer, Walt began cooking crystal meth in order to bank enough money in a very short amount of time that could pay for his treatments and allow his family to live comfortably in case of his untimely death.
While Walt got a little over his head, some of the times and tribulations throughout Breaking Bad can be applied to SEO and Internet Marketing. We may not have issues with the cartel, FEDs or rival drug dealers, but instead we fight battles with Pandas, Penguins, Google, competitors and ourselves.
Most of us go into the game with good intentions, just like Walt. We believe in our business and the product we put out there, stick to white hat tactics, yet we don’t see the results we thought we should. We get greedy, go away from Google’s guidelines and gamble with more black hat strategies like directories, article submissions and comment links.
Business starts booming. Rankings are up, traffic increases and we’re making more money. Yet with more bad links out there, it’s like having degenerates like Badger and Skinny Pete slinging crystal on the streets.
Soon after you’re in trouble with the authorities, Google discovers those forum links and spun articles, your site gets punished, rankings drop, traffic decreases and you’re up creek without a paddle.
Jesse: Oh, seriously? Where are you two going?
Badger: Jesse, I’ve been awake for like three straight days. Turning into a Sleestak.
Jesse: So crash here. It’s not like I ain’t got the space.
Badger: Yeah, that’s cool and all, but I think I got like this cat? Think I’m like supposed to feed it.
The moment Google penalizes on your site is when you finally come down from that high and reality slaps you in the face. Neglecting your site with cheap SEO campaigns and thin content may have worked for a short period of time, but it’s only a matter of time till the authorities (Google in this case) catches on to you.
No need to panic though, right? You’ll just have to be a little more careful this time? You’ve gotten in a little over your head. You’re just the cook in this operation, providing the product; you’re going to need someone with experience in the game to sell it.
So you outsource your SEO efforts overseas. They claim to be completely white hat, increasing your visibility through social media, guest posting and competitive analysis. All they want in return is a little piece of the pie.
Time goes by and business is good, gaining customers and selling product even better than before. Your new partners tell you everything is OK, sending you complicated Excel spreadsheets with lots of words and numbers on it, but you don’t really care cause all you want to see if dollar signs.
Jesse: For what it’s worth, getting the sh*t kicked out of you? Not to say you get used to it, but you do kinda get used to it.
Then, BAM! It happens again. A new algorithm change has penalized your site once again. Furious, you contact the SEO company and ask them what happened?! According to them, it couldn’t have been anything on their end that caused Google to come after you. They stuck by the plan and everything was good. They start to play the blame game and say someone on the inside must have slipped up.
That doesn’t seem right though. You removed all your bad links and beefed up your site before you hired them. You were no longer over-optimizing and now providing users with great information and entertaining content.
Walter: You going to show…I don’t know…some kind of mild relief that I’m alive?
Skylar: I am relieved Walt. And scared
Walter: Scared? Scared of what?
Handing over your SEO efforts to a company that you aren’t familiar with, haven’t researched or that promises number one rankings in a matter of weeks are the ones that will get you in trouble. You feel like Skylar, left in the dark, while Walt promises you everything is fine without giving you a straight answer on where he’s been.
Now, you have no idea how that SEO company got there links and where they came from and it’s too late. The site is in a hole you feel you can’t get out of. However, you aren’t the kind of person that just doesn’t roll over and die. You are going to fight till the end.
Walt: You know, it gets easier. I promise you that it does. What you’re feeling right now. About [Panda, Penguin], everything. It’ll pass. So what we do, we do for good reasons. And we’ve got nothing to worry about. And there’s no better reason than [rankings].
The more you inform yourself about SEO and Internet marketing the better. There are also plenty of others out there looking for work. Think about hiring an in-house Internet marketer or a trusted SEO firm that is willing to work with you and your long term goals.
There are great resources out there (most of which are FREE) like blogs, white page reports and PDFs that will guide you in the right direction. But take them for that they are and apply what you think is best for your site. Finally, keep up-to-date with all the current happenings in the SEO world, as one thing that works today may be disregarded in the future, yet white hat tactics will always stay true.
Matt Powers works for Blue Soda Promo, an eCommerce promotional marketing company based in the Chicagoland area. BSP offers over 500 thousand products including a great selection of eco-friendly custom printed tote bags. UK visitors should also try Patrick’s company Ideasbynet.
Photo credit to iStock