It's understandable why businesses want to be found at the top of Google - a more prominent position means you're more likely to be found by a potential customer online. It's really as simple as that.
However there's an unfortunate myth that the way to get to the top of Google is to trick and cheat using sneaky techniques that they don't know about or paying for links across the web. That simply isn't the way to do it, and in this article I hope to put my point across about why trying to trick Google is silly.
Ask yourself this: if somebody walks into your shop or office to speak to you about your service, would you lie to them? Would you put a neon sign outside of your front door with some strange 'key word' that you think might appeal to people? Would you get strangers to walk up to people in the high street and give them directions to your site for no apparent reason? Probably not. It doesn't work in real life, nor does it online.
Sometimes you will strike lucky. You will find a technique so sly, so intricately planned that the hundreds of PhD holding engineers at Google didn't think of it. The problem is, they're going to think of it. And we've seen historically that when they do correct these faults they tend to 'over steer' and punish websites that abuse them. A little while back, Google released an update called "Panda" which punished sites with duplicate or otherwise non content and many sites saw their traffic plummet considerably.
So while you may see a gain for a little while, the chances are it's actually going to hurt you in the long run.
I think it's common sense to invest into your website - and good Search Engine Optimisation makes up a good part of that. But investing in the tricks that ultimately wont work seems to me to be a waste of money. In the time it takes to plan and implement these tricks, you could have done a lot more good optimisation. It doesn't add up.
Google wants the same as your users. They want to find good (and unique!) content that no other site is offering, they want it to be structured in a way that's easy to understand and they want to see that a page is liked by peers, colleagues and friends.
In short: they want a good site. Search Engine Optimisation is one of those phrases that really doesn't make that much sense anymore, if web agencies around the world tomorrow could decide a new name for it - I'd be willing to put money on it being renamed User Experience Optimisation
While there's a bunch of technical SEO work that should be completed, from a website owners perspective you should work with your agency on good content. You need to be willing to get professionally written copy made, to know that you will change it frequently, to have professional photography and video produced and to work with your users to optimise the content around them. Don't worry, your agency will do the leg work here.
All of that may sound expensive, but it's comparable - often cheaper - that trying to trick Google. But best of all: good content lasts forever - it's a much much better investment.