Learn From an Online Marketing and SEO Services Specialist

By now no doubt you’ve seen plenty of these on YouTube and other platforms, and now it’s time for the Seek Social team to join in with an SEO practices tier list. As experienced SEO professionals however, we’re uniquely placed to provide a tier list that’s based on more than simple opinion – one that our customers can trust to guide them forward towards page one of their internet search engine of choice in the right way, and deliver results that last – let’s get started!

In house keyword research

Keyword research is one of the most important tasks in any SEO campaign. It’s also one of the most misunderstood and underestimated.

It’s essential that you handle keyword research yourself. If you don’t, you’re handing over control of your campaign to someone else—someone who might not understand your brand, your business and your goals as well as they need to to perform keyword research effectively..

However, when you handle keyword research in-house, there is a direct line of contact between you and the person doing your keyword research. This means that there are no middlemen or third parties involved in this crucial step. In turn this makes communication easier overall, and easier communication enables your SEO professional to check terminology and ideas with you.

The ability to check things with you like this is important, because you are the expert on your own business. You know best what you want to see and it’s our job to deliver that – but as part of our work to do so, we will need to check things with you to make sure that we’re always on the right track.

Partnering with certified professionals

As with any new industry, the digital marketing and SEO landscape was like the wild west when it first started. There were people out there claiming to be expert providers, and many of them were just trying to take advantage of clients by offering a service they couldn’t provide.

Sadly, such providers do still exist today. The best way to avoid them is to partner with someone that has actual industry certifications. Essentially this means a knowledgeable third party (such as Google) vouching that the SEO pro you choose has the skills and knowledge needed to deliver good results.

In house on page SEO & snippet composition

When you have your on page SEO performed in-house, the direct line of communication with your SEO pro is kept open. This keeps the implementation phase moving forward smoothly and easily. Any time you have a question or would like something explained regarding how or why we’re achieving your goals and the work we’re doing, you can put it to us directly and get an answer easily. It can be as simple as picking up the phone!

However, if things aren’t kept in house, this isn’t possible—your SEO pro has to go and ask someone for the information and feed it back to you. This is a slow process that stops you getting the information you need promptly, which stops issues being resolved promptly too.

In house off site backlink creation

As with on-page, communicating with your off-page SEO expert is key. You want them to know about any changes in direction, changes in focus and priorities, and any concerns you have about their work. This way, if there’s something wrong or missing, they can address it immediately (and if something is going well, they can tell you).

You are also able to ask where your backlinks are coming from, which means you have a clearer picture of progress towards your off-page SEO goals at all times, as well as things like the results you can expect and why. Lastly lets not forget that knowing exactly who has done the work means you have a better idea of the standards and practices used, so you can also have more confidence in your ‘progress picture’ being accurate.

2nd tier - Due Diligence Required

Outsourcing content creation

We’ve placed this practice here because it can work, but equally, on many occasions it doesn’t.

In order to outsource content writing successfully you need to really know the writer that’s going to be creating the content. If you don’t know them then you can’t be sure of the quality of the content that you’ll get back.

The one saving grace is that here, if you outsource and you aren’t happy with the end product there’s more scope for putting things right without harming your SEO efforts too much.

However, don’t forget that when writing long-form content for use online there are two things to consider – the quality of the actual written prose itself AND how well optimised it is. The content writer you outsource to needs to be able to provide both of these things to a high standard in order to help you towards SEO success.

Guest posting without proper vetting of the host site

Guest posting is a great way to perform off-page SEO and help your site rise through the rankings. However, if you don’t do it properly, it’s likely to do more harm than good.

That’s why we placed it here in our second tier.

How do you make sure that you do it right? Before agreeing to a guest post, you need to properly assess the ‘authority’ and reputation of the site that you’ll be posting on. If you don’t do this, you could end up providing a guest post to a site with poor authority—and then creating poor quality backlinks that will hurt your overall SEO efforts!

Middle Tier - Careful Now

Outsourcing backlinks

When it comes to outsourcing your SEO work, one of the most important things to remember is that you need to keep control over what gets done. That’s why we’ve spoken about how outsourcing tasks can be a bad idea, and in our opinion nowhere is outsourcing more dangerous than in off-page SEO.

This is because when you outsource this you have no control over the backlinks that are created. Yes, there are providers out there that will promise you thousands of backlinks and that sounds good, however what they don’t tell you is that these links may well be poor quality.

If all of those backlinks are low quality ‘toxic’ backlinks, then as we’ve seen above with the guest posting, you will quickly do more harm than good to your SEO standing, and the damage can take a lot of effort to undo.

Working with companies that outsource work

When you outsource your off-page SEO work, you’re handing over the keys to your backlinks and letting a third party do what they want with them. And if they’re not doing their job well? You may never know—why would they tell you?

However, the dangers of outsourcing don’t simply present themselves during link building, as we’ve seen they are also present during content creation (another reason why you should keep social media and content creation in house with professionals like Seek Social), and the same goes for on-page SEO too. Our advice on the matter is simply this – you CAN outsource and have it work, but in all cases you need to know who has the keys, who’s actually doing the work and making changes to your site, and you need to trust them and their standard of work.

If you are in a position where you can outsource to a trusted individual then, it can work, but if you’re in a position where you don’t know the person that’s pressing the keys, or your ‘taking somebody’s word for it’, that’s when bad things can happen.

4th Tier - Pretty Risky

Buying followers, comments, likes etc

When you buy social media commodities—things like followers, likes, comments and retweets—you’re taking a big risk. It’s a lot like outsourcing: You don’t know what you’re going to get, and you don’t know how long it will last. And of course, on top of all that uncertainty, you’re also paying actual money for these unknown quantities. In short, you’re paying good money for magic beans that probably won’t work.

We’ve seen many clients who have tried this practice, and what they usually get when they buy these things is exactly what they don’t want from a digital marketing standpoint: They get known toxic sites linking back to them, or obvious social media bots liking and commenting on their posts and putting off the genuine people that might want to engage, because they know ‘something’s up’. 

Once in a blue moon you can a short term return from this practice, but in the vast majority of cases it’s best avoided. Our advice? Don’t take the short cut. Do the job properly and earn your ranking the right way!

Bottom Tier - Steer Well Clear

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is one of several known ‘black hat SEO’ tactics that were once used to earn high rankings for pages that didn’t contain content deserving of them.

This tactic exploited how search engines used to work to earn high rankings for pages that didn’t contain content deserving of them. The tactic saw extra keywords be ‘hidden’ on the page through a number of methods such as hiding them at the very bottom of the page or making them blend in with the background.

Back in the olden days of SEO it used to work, however Google and other search engines spotted people exploiting the system and patched it via algorithm updates. It no longer works in any form, and attempting to use it can lead to some hefty penalties to your search engine ranking.


Cloaking is another black hat SEO tactic, but one that’s a little harder to understand than keyword stuffing. Cloaking is when a search engine sees a different page than the one that users are taken to when they click on a link on their search engine results page.

This tactic was pretty effective in the early days of SEO, when it was relatively easy for search engines to get duped by cloaking practices. Because of this, today’s search engines have put measures in place to render cloaking ineffective. As with Keyword Stuffing, if you try to use cloaking to improve your SEO ranking today, you’ll be subject to heavy penalties from the various search engines out there.

Any other known black hat tactics

It’s a constant battle between search engines and white hat SEO practitioners, who are trying to do things the right way, and black hat SEO practitioners, who are trying to invent new ways to game the system and cheat their way to page one.

At all times the race is on: each side is looking for ways to outwit the other, but in the end good SEO that produces lasting results is all about creating legitimate content and building relationships with your audience. It can be tempting, but the truth is that sooner or later all black hat tactics are countered, and the illegitimate results they bring undone. In the long run black hat SEO just isn’t worth it – the only way to true SEO success is a white hat approach, using best practices and hard work.