Fake SEO - If you hear this from your vendor run away!
I have been an SEO for a long time. If there is one thing that is constant in this business is that it constantly changes. Google makes an average of 1.5 Algorithm changes each day with varying degrees of intensity. The most difficult thing about being an SEO is staying informed with the most up to date information and learning how to apply it. Most SEOs don't do this and are stuck with the same education they received years ago in search engine optimization, if they were ever educated at all.
To prove my point, here's an example of a spam email I received from a "SEO" Company:
As the Site operator of XXXXX I would like to invite you to exchange links with us.
The entire week we will conduct a unique link exchange that will focus on real links with real traffic from real sites with real content!
Why Trade links with us?
A. Totally free of charge.B. We have an extremely high Alexa Traffic Rank compared to other online SEO websites.C. We occupy Google's top positions for various topics.D. We are content rich and proud of it!
I would like to keep this link exchange as relevant as possible to your site(s) as well, this is why I'm offering a variety of inner pages you can link to and remember, sites sending good related links will receive the same treatment in terms of quality and relevance. Please let me know what type of link exchanges is optional for xxxxx I can offer you:
- Three-way/In-direct Exchanges
- Links from related sites within content
- High PR and/or Content Backlinks
- Any other suggestion you might have...
It all ends up with what you've got to offer. We promise a free, fair and honest exchange with each of our participants."
Sounds pretty good doesn't it? Well, did anyone tell you that neither of those work anymore and they can actually hurt you? Did they tell you that Google HATES link exchanges? As a matter of fact Google has a whole Web spam team looking for link exchanges, and the people who use them, so that they can ban them or penalize them.
In addition, link building is now more about the quality and relevance of the link than about the number of links. In these cases, you have SEO's who are either knowingly lying, or still legitimately think that these tactics will actually help their customers. I contend that they don't know any better. Why? Because they are lazy. If they weren't lazy, they wouldn't be using spam as a primary means of marketing. It is very easy, and cheap, to do. REAL marketing is neither. This is why I doubt they are taking the time to study. They have probably heard about some of the updates, but do not know the intricacy's and definitely haven't adapted their strategy's.
Let me give you a synopsis of what they SHOULD know.
In 2011, Google released an algorithm change nicknamed "Panda" that changed everything about SEO. They did it again in 2012 with the "Penguin" update. "Panda" was designed to give better rankings primarily on site content and layout based on user feedback that was then machined into the algorithm. It was also designed to penalize link exchanges and link farms. This algorithm has been updated numerous times since then.
Penguin was designed to prevent spammers from being able to manipulate the Google's rankings with low quality or irrelevant links. The actual updates, and their subsequent successors, are very complex changes that require a lot of study to understand. For instance, numerous case studies have indicated that Google uses it's own ranking metrics to determine the relevance and strength of a link from another website. So, for instance, if you were trying to rank in Google for the term "blue widgets", how the site ranks for "blue widgets" and other "widget" related terms will influence the SEO power of a link on that site back to your site for those terms.
This makes a lot of sense because Google is just using the same algorithmic data it uses to rank a site in order to determine it's relevance and strength. However, if you talk to a lot of SEO's, they will tell you "the more links the better". Well, guess what, they are wrong. They should be saying, "the more relevant and quality links the better".
Here are a few guidelines for you when screening SEO vendors.
- Do they promise anything? If so, run far away. SEO changes too much for any promises to be made. Naturally, there needs to be a system in place to help you measure results, but no promises.
- Is there a big commitment? SEO takes a while to see some results, but you shouldn't be signing long term contracts until you're convinced they are the right company for you. Ask for a trial period in which you pay monthly.
- Do they lay out what they are going to deliver to you (number of links, submissions etc.)? If so, you need to ask them for specifics. Some company's submit every client to the same sites and build links in the same places and charge too much for it. They shouldn't pigeon hole you into the same marketing strategy as every other company, or it won't work well.
- Do they perform keyword research? If not, they are not real SEOs. This is the most neglected area of SEO, and also one of the most important.
- How long have they been in business? A lot of SEO companies, especially out of foreign country's, are brand new company's that bought themselves a couple pieces of software and then decided to get started with little to no experience.
- Ask if their team is all in America or if they hire out any of their SEO. A lot of companies are using cheap labor from other countries to do backlink building for them. In these cases, they are using unskilled laborers to do some of the "menial" tasks in SEO. Well, there are now very few parts of SEO that are easy to do. If they are using unskilled labor to do a large portion of their SEO work, stay away from them.
Hopefully, these items will give you a better understanding of what to look for. SEO is a truly complicated field of study. Unfortunately, there are no standards of education in the industry because it moves too fast to teach in school. So, anyone with a computer can claim they are a search engine optimizer. So, watch out for those "fake SEOs", get a real SEO, and boost your business.
Other Cautionary Tips:
How To Compare Web Development Companies
Poor Marketing Could Be Attracting the Wrong Traffic to Your Website