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SEO Services - The Good and the Bad

Monday, August 17, 2009
Published in SEO & SEM

A red flag should go up anytime an SEO company makes certain claims or promises. The following list will help prevent you from being taken advantaged of when planning for SEO services:

1. Free Trial Services

“Try our services free for 30 days. Just give us access to your site and see what we can do for you!”

Never give your password and access information to anyone who offers you free trials. You might as well give them your car keys and ATM password, too.

2. Under Priced or Overpriced Services

Beware of sites like Elance where bidders come in all shapes and sizes. Someone whose price is not in line with others is generally not to be trusted.

A low quote is likely to buy you low quality work and a price that seems ridiculously high, well, it probably is. A company with a reputation strong enough to warrant higher fees does not need to get business from Elance: they are getting it based on their reputation.

3. We Promise Your Site Will be Indexed in 48 Hours!

Anyone that promises you indexing by a major search engine without first having visited your website and analyzing it is not doing two thirds of the work of a truly good SEO professional – research.

The quality and amount of content and how your site is laid out are just two among many other important factors in getting good listings.

Great SEO begins with a great website Take the time to plan your strategy and you'll see results that are worth the wait.

4. We Guarantee an instant Page Rank of XX, or Top Ranking In XX Time

Do not do business with anyone that promises a particular page rank, or page ranking at all in a short time frame.

Ranking is done periodically by Google, not on a daily basis and nothing you can do will speed up the process. It can take weeks or months to get a page ranked and your ranking is also dependent upon other sites rankings.

Your site will be compared to other similar sites to determine relevancy and popularity. (By the way, page ranks are dynamic and not assigned one time and never adjusted. They do change. And, low-ranking pages can still appear high in search engine results, and high-ranking pages may not appear at all.)

SEO cannot be done quickly.

5. Massive Search Engine Submissions

“We will submit your site to 1,000 search engines!” You see it in almost every SEO claim. Big deal. This is something that is simply not worth paying for. Your site will not be relevant to the “1,000” micro-market search engines that few people use anyhow.

The truth is, a well-done site does not even need to be submitted to the major search engines. In fact, Google, Yahoo, MSN, advise that frequent or over submitting to search engines will hurt you. And, submitting your site does not speed up the process or guarantee it will be picked up. Think of site submission as sending a post-it note to Google to stick on their wall of millions of "to visit" websites.

Besides, there are so many free services online to one-click submit to multiple search engines you can do it yourself for free in a matter of seconds.  

6. Hundreds (or Thousands) of Links to Your Site

Any links you get from such claims are more likely to hurt your site than to help it. 

Spend time building your own quality in-bound links. The best way to get links is simple: offer meaningful content, and control who promotes your products and services.

Another tip: Do not put low-quality links on your own site and avoid reciprocal linking. Robots are smart and know when you are trying to cheat the system!  

7. Avoid Companies That Ask for Copyrights to SEO and Meta Data

If at all possible, do not do business with anyone that insists on retaining copyrights to any and all meta data they create, edit, or analyze for you. If they retain or have this right assigned to them, they can legally bar you from using it, or totally strip your site.

Unfortunately, some states have bad copyright laws that make transfer of ownership under "Work for Hire" agreements illegal unless the creator is treated as an employee. This means you may have to purchase workers' comp and other insurance to be allowed to receive the copyrights.

But even when there are no laws that prohibit copyrights it is a fairly common practice in the industry for the SEO person/company to ask for copyrights to the SEO data they create for your site.

On most websites meta data can be seen by anyone. Meta data itself does not contain any “trade secrets.”  It is a series of words and descriptions and other things that help your website perform. Your SEO should be 100% unique to your site. Presumably no one else should be able to apply it to their own site and get the same results. And, you cannot sell your own meta data – no one would buy it! So what is there to protect?

It is understandable a company would ask that you not share their techniques with others and have you sign a confidentiality agreement about work they do for you. But if you sign a contract for services without rights to the product (the SEO on your website) you could find yourself in serious trouble.  

8. Flat-Rate and Low Monthly Fees to Optimize and Promote Your Website

Truly good SEO is not cheap. SEO consulting alone can cost hundreds of dollars per hour and in some cases as much as $1,000 an hour.

Flat-rate, low fees will probably get you little to nothing. It takes long hours to analyze and optimize a website properly. A good company will read your site, study your industry and your competition before even making a price quote or other proposal.

9. Companies That Will Not Answer Your Questions

Ask questions and lots of them. A person who only talks about what they can do for you rather than spending time asking questions about your site, your business, industry, goals and expectations is only interested in your money.

If you ask a question and get a shifty reply like “we have a new technique and it’s a trade secret” what they are really saying is “we want you to think we know what we are doing – and we don’t.”

Anything you want to know about how to optimize a site can probably be found on the Internet already. What you are really paying for is not trade secrets, but experience.

A good SEO professional knows the “rules” and “trade secrets”. They'll know how to research keywords and put them together in the best possible way. Unless your site is only a few pages long, anyone who claims to be able to SEO your site in a matter days is not going to do a good job.

10. We Know Someone

I was once promised better SEO because the spammer told me in an email to “undisclosed recipients,” “had an inside contact at Google.” They knew things the other SEOers did not.

All search engine company employees sign confidentiality agreements. If an SEO expert cannot stand on his own reputation but has to name drop, he’s not someone you need to know.

11. Unsolicited SEO Offers

If you receive an email from someone who tells you that they can improve your page ranking on certain keywords from a list of web pages they provided you from your website, skip it. They world is filled with these types of services. You need a consistent method of SEO techniques that builds organic page ranking over time.

Spammers often use spiders to crawl for a list of URLs and email addresses. Anytime you get an unsolicited offer via email from someone who claims to have visited your site, been so impressed that they want to help, and has a deal to offer - put the email where it belongs: in the Spam Folder.

12. Threats and Extortion Campaigns

Yes, there are scammers out there that actually threaten to sabotage your website if you do not let them SEO it for you. These scammers may even say things in emails like, “I want to discuss this with you live, can I call you at …” and then actually list your phone number!

They want you to think you have been targeted and if you do not go with their service the underlying tone is that they will do something awful.

It is all hype. And, it is also illegal to threaten or attempt to extort money over the Internet. Report them to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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