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A few months ago I posted a brief guide of “The 5 Don’ts of SEO” listing suggestions of things not to do when designing a website. These guidelines include a few of the common “Don’ts” and suggestions from Google to help you keep your site compliant with search engines’ webmaster guidelines. Each month I’ve been going more in-depth with each recommendation. This month’s topic: Don’t Deceive Search Engines.

Everyone wants to have high rankings in the search engines, and sadly, some abide by the philosophy of “Lying, Cheating or Stealing” their way to the top. These deceiving tricks often include:

• Hidden text
• Hidden links
• Cloaking
• Sneaky redirects

Yes, these tricks may work for a short time, but if there is one thing I learned well from my childhood, it is that if you lie, cheat or steal, you will inevitably get caught—and when you do, there are always consequences.

Search engines are ever improving their algorithms to increase ranking accuracy and to improve the overall experience of their users. Their goal is to serve up the best, most relevant results to their users. They don’t like to be deceived and as they find deceitful acts, they apply a consequence. These consequences may include being banned from search engines.

Search engine optimization is not about tricking search engines to get anyone and everyone to your site. It is about building an effective online marketing strategy that delivers a flow of highly targeted prospects who are seeking your product or service. It’s a matter of good traffic over bad traffic, of quality over quantity. The goal of search engine optimization is to increase the good, quality traffic comprising of relevant visitors who are likely to fulfill a desired action on your site, whether it’s to buy something, to contact you, to subscribe to your service, or what have you.

Deceiving search engines may provide you with more traffic to your site for a short time. But in the long run, it typically ends up hurting your rankings and may result in getting you banned from the search engines.

The easiest way to not deceive the search engines is to make sure your site is actually relevant for the terms you are trying to show up for. This of course, is easier said than done, but focusing on making your site more relevant for your consumer is what will ultimately add to your bottom-line.