Ask around and you will find that there are many horror stories about SEO companies giving a bad service.This is a guide that you should read in order to avoid being scammed, by helping you to choose the best that is out there.
Here are a few points to bear in mind:
1. Fixed prices for services
We all like to know how much something costs before we buy it. However, with SEO this is virtually impossible. If you see a fixed price being offered for getting you results you should run a mile in the opposite direction!
Costs can only be determined after keyword and competition analysis. So it is just like entering a running race, where the keywords represent the distance and the competition are the top runners who have run the same race before and who are now up against you. Using this metaphor it is clear that it is impossible to predict if you can win a race without knowing the distance (keywords) and the competition you are up against.
Using the same metaphor, there are some races which you have no chance of winning. In some cases trying to get to the top of the rankings would be like setting yourself up against Olympic medal long distance runners, whilst others are easy because it is like running against old aged pensioners using walking sticks.
Great SEO is about winning the race and getting effective results. That means beating the existing competition. That cannot be done effectively without analyzing the competition and planning a strategy that will take advantage of their weak points.
2. No commitment or promise to achieve anything!
What if you put your car in a garage to be fixed and the mechanic said, “Leave it with me, I can’t promise I will fix anything but I will give you my best shot…oh by the way don’t forget to pay my monthly invoices.” Well this seems to be a common practice in SEO. The excuse being that no one has the full knowledge on what Google or any other search engine does, so they can’t promise anything.
Reality check: Following some analysis any SEO that is worth their salt will be able to confidently predict whether they can beat any of the existing competitors who are holding a top ten placing in the search results for a given keyword.
3. Getting results too quickly
In a competitive sense getting results too quickly increases the possibility that the SEO Company is using SPAMMY Black Hat tricks to give the impression of good SEO work. These tricks can work in the short term, but in the long term it is like building your house on sand.
As a rough guideline, if your keyword has more than 500,000 results in your keyword search and there are sponsored ads showing on the right or top of the page and it is going to take at least 30 days to get your website onto the first page of Google. You can get there quicker if the SEO Company if you are using video or podcasts. But some SEO companies use Black Hat tricks. In this case their methods is a short term solution and greatly increase the chance that your website will be delisted or banned. Using Black Hat Tricks, especially at the early stages, will not give you a solid foundation for the future.
Reality check: Monitor your site using Yahoo site explorer and see if the inbound links are from sites that are in the same market sector as you. If the majority of the links aren’t then the SEO could be buying links along with hundreds of other people. These types of links are short lived; you get results quickly but the results disappear just as fast.
4. Choosing keywords like your company name to get you to the top of the search engines.
Some keywords are very hard for you to get the top position in while others are very easy. Be careful not to let the SEO choose the keywords, as they may not pick the most appropriate for your business. The choice of keywords should be a joint decision.
Focussing on the right keywords or phrases is essential. Your whole campaign success or failure will depend upon choosing the right keywords that will bring you not just traffic but buying traffic for your business. Getting this wrong, or leaving it up to someone who doesn’t know your business, is a recipe for a disastrous waste of money and time.
Reality check: Don’t choose a keyword with your company name unless your name reflects what you do, such as “Print Labels PLC”. People search for solutions to their problems. They don’t know what your company is called and they don’t particularly care.
5. Choosing keywords that will bring you traffic but not buying traffic.
Use a good keyword tool like Market Samurai or go to the MSN and type in the commercial intent of each of your keywords. A high score shows that the chosen keyword has buying traffic rather those that just used for browsing.
6. Choosing keywords that are ambiguous or used across many market sectors.
There are lots of keywords that are relevant across different market sectors. A word like security can mean personal security, home security, bank security, id security etc. Alternatively, watch for keywords that have double meanings, such as “Cold”,” Coast”, “Divine”. Usually when you combine a couple of keywords together you can remove most of the ambiguity.
7. Choosing a keyword phrase that contains more than 4 keywords.
It is easier to get ranked with a long keyword phrase in a highly competitive field. If you make up any sentence that begins with ” and ends with another ” and enter that phrase in Google, you are likely to find only a handful of instances in which Google finds with that exact phrase, or possibly none at all. Aim to use a phrase that has 2 to 4 relevant keywords. Any more is likely to be useless and any less is probably too competitive or too ambiguous.
8. Buying backlinks from link farms
There many ways you can buy backlinks. One popular way is from link farms. These are a group of interlinked web sites, which have usually been set up by an automated program. This is a type of spamming technique which may give short term results but which, like all spamming, offers no long term benefits to your business
9. Keyword stuffing or Keyword Density
You may come across a site that is unreadable but is stuffed with keywords. This is yet another unethical technique which once provided a simple way of getting a site to the top of the search engine rankings by including meaningless, and sometimes hidden, repetitions of the targeted keyword.
This technique is now completely useless, as search engines can now spot this kind of spamming a long way off. Any SEO who uses this way of trying to improve your rankings should be viewed with the utmost suspicion.
The use of your keyword does matter, but it has to be done intelligently and shouldn’t be overdone. 6-8% of the content on any given page can use the keyword. In general terms, use your keyword in the first and last sentences and make the whole thing look like it was written by a human writing about something real and you will be fine.
You can find out more by visiting my SEO Company. Gary is a Internet Marketing Consultant who has written a FREE ebook about how to avoid being scammed.
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