It’s happened to me dozens of times, and it will probably happen a dozen times more. I’ll be pitching a potential client who I think is a good fit, only to have them go with another SEO company that is offering the same services for the low, low price of $99.99 a month! I understand that companies in any industry will try to underbid each other in order to win a client (especially when the economy is as unstable as it is right now), but if I’ve learned anything in my 12+ years as an SEO consultant, it’s that you get what you pay for.

More often than not, if you come across an SEO company promising everything under the sun for an unbelievable price, they are probably a black hat SEO company.

I do my best to convince the prospective client that they are about to head into dangerous territory, but such a low price point can be pretty convincing. However, I’ve also learned over the years that the potential client almost always comes back once they’ve been burned by the black hat company. Only instead of handling their SEO, they need me to fix the problems created by the other firm!

When you stick to white hat SEO , you don’t need to be worry about algorithm updates or the ever-changing will of the search engines. Every tactic employed by a white hat SEO company is soundly within the guidelines of the search engines, so you can rest assured knowing that your brand isn’t about to get flagged or penalized.

Black hat SEO can be very tempting for site owners, especially when it looks like the competition is getting away with it and succeeding. Don’t get caught up in the short gains that black hat SEO brings! The search engines are well aware that spammers are trying to game the system and rig the SERP for their benefit, and they have many ways of identifying such sites. I’ve seen sites get flagged by the search engines for black hat SEO and get completely de-indexed! If potential customers can’t find your site in the search engines, you might as well not exist.

Your online reputation is the most valuable asset your brand has. It takes a long time to position your company well and gain the trust of the search engines. But all the effort is for naught if your site gets caught trying to beat the system with black hat SEO. You aren’t just back to square one, you’re somewhere in the negatives. Now you have to go back to that white hat SEO company (the one that was a little more costly) and have them repair the damage. Imagine how much farther ahead your SEO would be in they had been handling it in the first place, as opposed to playing catch-up and trying to pick up the pieces.