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by Stephen Logan on 20th November 2009
Could SEO Harm My Website?
Over the years there have been lots of stories of people being dropped from Google due to poor SEO practises. Indeed, for an SEO company like us, it’s not rare for us to be work with people who have suffered as a result of some unethical optimisation.
When it comes to SEO, there are three layers of practitioners:
White Hat – Good, ethical optimisation within Google’s rules
Black Hat – Deliberately flouting the rules to make quick gains, often not worried about the consequences
Grey Hat – Slightly questionable practises, although not illegal in the most part; usually somewhere in between the two, which often means that it may be punished.
When it comes to black hat SEO, yes, there is a chance that your website could actually be penalised by search engines rather than be rewarded with higher rankings. However, due to the risks involved in optimising in this way, black hat SEO is on the decline as are businesses who tout it.
White hat, or ethical SEO, is almost completely safe. By sticking to the guidelines that are set out by the search engines and not breaching their codes, optimisation won’t have a detrimental effect. If you have had some black hat work done in the past, it is important that all traces of this are removed – even if that means removing thousands of links or pages of Meta – to ensure that it doesn’t continue to hold you back.
SEO isn’t about spamming directories or getting links at all costs, it’s about methodical strength building and improving the quality of your website. It can be a long process, but with some professional assistance and avoiding the numerous black hat pitfalls, you should begin to see improvements in both search rankings and traffic.
So can SEO harm your website? Well, the honest is answer is that yes it can. However, this is only in the rarest of examples when unethical practises are used, whether deliberately or accidentally [see: What is Black Hat SEO?]. If you continue to do honest optimisation, or employ a respectable agency to manage your SEO, you should only see positive gains from it and will avoid any negative repercussions from Google et al.