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Kathleen Burns

Digital Marketers - Are You on the Light Side or Dark Side of SEO? [Quiz]

Kathleen Burns
Digital Marketers - Are You on the Light Side or Dark Side of SEO? [Quiz]

The algorithms of search engines are as mysterious as the Force in Star Wars. Some claim to know everything there is and keeps up with the latest updates from Google and Bing, while others know the underhanded tactics that let them squeak by during the updates.

Competition to stay as a top digital marketing professional is rough. The pressure to provide outstanding results for all your marketing efforts is unreal.

Nevertheless, if you fail to provide the results your clients want, no matter how hard you worked, there are thousands of other professionals waiting for their chance. You do all the right things, but if you can’t raise the domain authority of the website or increase their search engine results, your clients will look elsewhere. In the end, the metrics matter the most to clients.

As the fear of being replaced creeps up on you, this is the moment you must be the most diligent. This is when the Dark Side of SEO will whisper in your ear and tempt you.

You see a forked path in front of you

In a way, search engine optimization is like the Force – once you choose your techniques, there is no going back! Just imagine the scene when Palpatine was whispering to Anakin Skywalker: “Let me help you to know the subtleties of the Force."

Would it hurt if you used a few Dark Hat methods to provide some key metrics for your clients?

dark-side-of-seo

Your clients want the results, but you what you are doing doesn’t provide those results fast enough. This could save your job.

In that situation, will you uphold the righteous values of quality content and serve the Light Side of SEO, or do you long to be a master of deception on the Dark Side of SEO?

Dark Side of SEO

The Dark Side of SEO is commonly called Black Hat techniques, which are used to rank higher in the short-term, but the biggest disadvantage of it is that the results don’t last long. The websites using these techniques are blacklisted by search engines once they are caught and disappear as their punishment for the good of the internet.

Search engine manipulation is the game of the Dark Side. If you seek quick results, you probably dive into spamming, buying links, cloaking, spinning content, and negative SEO. However, quick results that boost your website can lead to the terrible risk of penalizing!

Light Side of SEO

The Light Side of SEO is commonly called White Hat techniques, which are methods that search engines approve and show that the website is full of quality content and valuable to anyone that finds it in the results.

Creative, social content is the life blood of the Light Side. But be warned that patience is an absolute must when you are faced with this path – your results and ROI will be slow to start and quick to gain steam as you gain traction in your industry. White hat SEO methods may take time, however this path needs tedious attention to detail such as accurate meta data and tags, building useful backlinks, and user friendly content. The deeper you slide into the White Side, the more work there is to be done to stay current to the latest search engine algorithms.

What side are you on?

[Editors Note: Special thanks to Boombox for all their quiz help!]

The time will come when you must choose a side in SEO during your journey as a digital marketing professional. Take our quiz to find out which side of the SEO Force you are drawn to – are you as White or Black as you say?

If you have any follow-up questions regarding Black Hat and White hat SEO, feel free to ask me in the comments!

Kathleen Burns is the Community Manager of SEMrush.

Comments

2000 symbols remain
Andy Kuiper - SEO Analyst
Andy Kuiper - SEO Analyst
cool quiz :-)
Kathleen Burns
Andy Kuiper - SEO Analyst
Thank you! I did my best and tried to make it a lot of fun to do. What were your results?
Andy Kuiper - SEO Analyst
Andy Kuiper - SEO Analyst
Kathleen Burns
Jedi Master
Kathleen Burns
Andy Kuiper - SEO Analyst
Awesome! Ensure you stick to the light side of the force - I'm sure you will have people asking for advice from you before too long. :)
Statchest
I have been doing SEO for my website almost over 8 months, it has DA of 22 and it's improving slowly with time. Some of sites, i know has poor DA and few backlinks with high spam score is getting ranked so high on google and has great alexa ranking but mine is taking slow progressive leap. I hope by the end of 1 year for my site, hope to get some good progressive ranking.
Kathleen Burns
Statchest
Keep working at it. Those poor DA sites probably use several highly searchable keyword phrases and so they pop up in results more often than your own site. But as long as you continue to produce high-quality content, you will rise in rank. Have you audited any of your competitors keywords or content to see what causes them to rank higher?
Statchest
Kathleen Burns
I don't use semrush paid service, but I have studied a lot of data, and keyword research to get better results for my site. I am noticing that my ranking is improving slowly but it is improving and I think google usually takes time to trust a website enough to rank them better at top. Some of my site keywords are ranked in top 10 but their search queries are very less and this might be the cause my site to get low traffic.
Kathleen Burns
Statchest
The best results usually come from keywords relating to your business or services that receive high traffic in search queries, but have low competition. This could be where you problem is.

Once you make enough SEO changes, you can request for Google to reindex the site and see if that helps improve your results.
Statchest
Kathleen Burns
I am working on some changes for SEO to get better results on keywords but I don't want to fill my page with just a lot of keywords. I also noticed that someone is building bad backlinks for my site but thankfully google didn't index them in search console. Should i disavow them or don't,as they haven't been considered by google?
Kathleen Burns
Statchest
Definitely don't fill your page with keywords! Write for humans. Any content that you create for your site (like blog posts) will include a keyword in the header. This is especially useful if the post responds to or answers a particular question that someone is looking for when they type in this keyword in Google or Bing.

I would disavow them to be safe. Just because they aren't considered by Google for now, if they are found in search queries, people will click to read more. That bad backlink will come back to haunt you eventually!
Avinash Nair
Avinash Nair
Great post Kathleen. The quiz was great fun though. I wonder who would purposely want to be on the dark side of SEO :P

I have a couple of questions though. What advice would you give to the marketers who are under pressure to deliver results? If a marketer has been on the light side of SEO and still has not been able to achieve his results then what advice would you give him so that he achieves his targets without resorting to using black hat techniques?
Kathleen Burns
Avinash Nair
Some people want fast results no matter what the risk is - that's one of the reasons they fall under the influence of the Dark Side.

Now onto your questions..
Advice about pressure: What is the focus of your marketing efforts; attracting new prospects, reengaging old customers, or nurturing those still in your marketing funnel? Although you aren't providing some rapid results within 5-6 months, you can still report on other metrics your clients will care about. Did it spread brand awareness, earn you quality backlinks, attract new leads, increase engagement or social shares, did it solve a problem the customer had, etc? Help your company understand what is is marketing is doing for them and why this strategy is better at providing numbers than another, but be clear that it doesn't immediately mean the former is more useful than the latter. Know how your marketing programs contribute to revenue and the customer journey.

Not achieving the results: Marketers will need to dive into data to find out why they aren't delivering.You need to explain why something is working or isn't working. Study your data/analytics and see what happened with your leads. Is your content high quality with detailed and actionable content to solve a customers problem and can be found in search engine results? Is your website copy informative and well-written? Use heat maps for website content to see where customers are looking, what they click, time spent on page, etc. Are you using the right keywords to appear in search engine results that your customers will look for in search?

Your success indicates if you’re attracting the right prospects, and detailed data like that will help you figure out what customers and audience want from your company.

Resorting the black hat techniques for quick results will only hurt the company in the long run once you are discovered. If you are truly deep into the Dark Side, the search engines will completely hide your website far back in results. It's very hard to recover from that type of punishment and many companies will disappear completely after that. I wouldn't take the risk no matter how much pressure I was under.
Bruno Ramos Lara
It's a trap!!! :P
Kathleen Burns
Bruno Ramos Lara
I had to include that as one of the answers!
Fernando Angulo
Loving this Quiz! Amazing!
Kathleen Burns
Fernando Angulo
Thank you! I hope it was challenging. :)
Michael Stricker
Great fun!
Kathleen Burns
Michael Stricker
Thanks! So.. can I ask what you scored? :)
Michael Stricker
Kathleen Burns
Yoda, I am. A Great Jedi Master.
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