Beware of dodgy SEO companies

Each day as I get out of bed I think to myself… today is going to be a great day! Why wouldn’t it be? After all, I work for a great company, I project manage a great group of clients and overall, I love my job. But as with all good things, there are also some challenges that pop up every once in a while. My pet hate is having dodgy SEO companies contacting my clients offering cheaper services – this tends to put a dampener on my day as these sorts of companies create a bad name for other legitimate businesses within our industry.  As one of these companies contacted one of my clients this week, I thought that I would blog about this topic.

So how can you tell if the SEO Company you are approached by is genuine?

Well, there are a number of factors that you should look at. These can vary considerably however in general a few commonalities apply. The main determining factor is to understand whether the company you are intending on working with uses blackhat vs. whitehat SEO techniques.

What is blackhat vs. whitehat SEO?

The term Blackhat applies to SEO techniques that are designed to manipulate the search engines, on the other hand, whitehat applies to techniques that comply with the search engines set of optimisation rules. Whilst blackhat techniques can at times achieve immediate results, more often than less, they tend to have long-term negative effects on websites. In many cases, websites that have been optimised using blackhat techniques can end up banned from Google’s index.  A perfect example of identifying a company that uses blackhat techniques is offering a guarantee to get you to the top spot of Google quickly.

I have to tell you, some of the big guys were affected by Google’s latest algorithm update. JC Penny and and Forbes were all recently affected as a result of inferior SEO techniques.

At the end of the day, it’s important to ensure you are looking out for the signs of a genuine SEO business.

How to Spot the Legit from the Dodgy?

There are a few tell tale signs of a dodgy SEO company.  The top three include:

1.  How many and what keywords will they optimise your site for

When we are working with a client we will generally select between 4-8 highly targeted keywords that actually attract search volume. A dodgy SEO company will tell you they will optimise your site for more than a dozen keywords or may also tell you they will get you to the top spot for an almost impossible keyword.

If you wanted to check up on the suggested keywords, you can look these up using the Google keyword tool. This is a free tool that shares the volumes for keywords. If you search for a keyword and there are more than 20,000 searches a month and you are paying less than $1,200 a month than it’s very unlikely your keywords will ever see the light of day.

2. It’s really cheap

Another dead give away is the price. We had a client that was receiving a very solid level of business through our work together, yet they decided to get a little greedy and left us to work for a company that charged a quarter of the price we charged. Needless to say, we started working with one of their competitors. The business that stopped working with us, totally disappeared from the search engines.

To get a website to the top of the search engines, over the long term you need to invest a good chunk of time and it involves a series of consistent action.  These consistent actions end up earning the top spot in Google for your keywords. In order to gain results, inexpensive SEO service providers revert back to dodgy blackhat techniques. These techniques generally involve outsourcing of inferior services such as poor quality link building, blogging, copying content from other sites and so on.

Like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

3. They offer a Guarantee to get you to the top

It normally works the other way around when it comes to offering guarantees in business, but in the SEO world no one can offer a guarantee when it comes to ranking. Let’s be straight on this. Even as a very experienced SEO I can not offer any guarantee that I will get you on the first page, or in the top 3.  Our track record has proven we can achieve this time and time again, but we still do not offer any guarantee. Just as weatherman can predict the weather, there are so many other factors at play that you simply can’t control (fortunately we have a much better track record than weathermen).

On average, it takes a company 6 months to catch on and to stop paying for these services. By this stage, you would have probably paid something along the line of $3000 plus. Now multiply this by 200 or 300 and you will see why you were contacted in the first place. Did the dodgy SEO shut it’s doors at this stage, I don’t think so… they probably built a new site, and started the process again using different company name.

In summary, when selecting your SEO Company, read up on SEO and make sure that your company of choice is genuine on all levels. Query them on their methods, check out their testimonials and reviews, find out about what techniques they use and most of all, trust your gut feeling. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

How Do I Get My Website To Perform

Getting your website out there is very similar to setting up and running your own business. Like any successful operational business, you need some form of ongoing marketing. There are a number of different marketing options available including word of mouth, referrals, newspaper ads, direct mail, radio advertising and a range of other effective methods.

Any business that wants to move forward through the internet needs to have more than just a website … they also need some sort of Internet Strategy, whether it is SEO, PPC, Video or Social Media.

Let me back that up with an explanation …

Why aren’t I getting any enquiries through my website?

The ‘Numero Uno’ comment I hear from business owners today is – “When my web designer built my site I thought it would instantly bring in visitors and make me money”. Not only do web designers need to be more upfront about what the result (and lack of) will be from their web design, it can be very disheartening for a business owner that has already gone through all the struggle of building their website only to find no-body knows of its existence or is even using it.

Many website owners end up loosing interest and push it aside. When the rare visitor eventually stumbles on the site it lacks the true feel of what your business has to offer and could end up sending the wrong message to your potential client.

My Own Embarrassing Experience

Like Michael Jordan, I’ve made more mistakes than I’ve had successes. Fortunately; every mistake I’ve made has lead to an even greater success. My first journey into self employment was in hospitality; more specifically I purchased a restaurant.

Before I opened the doors I did the hard yards. I chose my menu, fixtures and fittings, hired a team of people and all the other fun tasks in setting up your own business. I spent literally hundreds of hours getting everything ready, squeezing every ounce of my heart and soul into small details of the business. I was very excited on my very first day when we opened the doors, expecting a horde of people to come piling in to order meals and coffees.

Within the first day reality kicked in as I stood there for most of the day to make a cracker sum of $50.00 (most of which was my family coming to visit). I truly felt sick by the end of my first day when the impending embarrassment kicked in. I honestly thought I would just build it and they would come.

Why You Need To Market Your Website

My ego was hit like a tonne of bricks when I realised the hard work I had invested meant nothing without marketing activity.

My first experience in business mirrors the harsh reality for a lot of website owners. The reality is unless you have some form of Internet Strategy in place, you’ll end up with an underperforming website that could have the potential to bring in a large majority of business… that is, if people knew of its existence and were able to locate it.

How Can I Let Visitors Know About My Website?

Whatever your strategy if you would like your website to supply you with sales and/or leads it’s critical to have a strategy in place to achieve that result. Like my naïve restaurant story, if you build it they simply don’t come.

Obviously I am biased and am going to say an SEO company is the best way to achieve that result, yet there are times when SEO isn’t necessary the best solution. Seeking advice of an experienced professional will ensure you are on the right track and will assist you in the construction of a solid online presence to rake in those visitors to boost that bottom line.

Online Media Makes Your Marketing Dollars Count

Lets face facts – no matter which way we look at it, the internet is taking over. It is now the primary resource for customers to find products and services in almost any industry. Although there may still be some need for traditional forms of marketing, in most cases if you don’t have an effective online presence you are massively limiting your business to just a handful of customers in comparison to what you could be doing.

The marketing industry at the moment is in a constant state of time restraint. When you compare the time it takes to organise your print campaigns, proof copy and actually go to print, you could have published your campaign online and seen immediate and measured results. I concede that utilizing print can be useful, but will be far more effective when your campaign includes a push towards your website, not to mention the costs of advertising in print, in comparison to the substantial savings in advertising online.

Marketing dollars being spent in online media and search optimization are miniscule in comparison to traditional media methods. In many cases, where companies include an online marketing component to their budgets, but have not yet reduced their existing marketing budgets, the yield from their online campaigns far outweigh those of traditional methods, making the acquisition of clients using online methods a far more financially intelligent decision.

Our new generations of consumers want their information, products and services fast and on demand. The fact is that when they look for information on anything, whether it is for purchase, product or service, there is a 90% chance that they will turn to an online method to find what they want and most of these consumers won’t go past the first page before selecting a site to visit. It is an uncomfortable truth for some, but a truth none the less that if you are not competing for a front page position on Google, you are not doing enough to compete in today’s marketing environment.

Google Adwords Goldmine

Google-Adwords-PPCIf you haven’t tried Google’s Pay-Per-Click (PPC) search engine marketing service yet (aka Google Adwords), I’d recommend doing it soon.

More and more online businesses are realizing that — done right — a PPC campaign can be a fabulous source of cheap, instant, highly qualified traffic.

PPC listings are the ‘Sponsored Links’ that appear in the TOP 3 positions and on the right-hand-side column of the front-page of Google.

They work like an online auction where the advertiser pays a certain amount of money (let’s say $1.00 as an example) every time someone clicks on the ad that is showing to visit your website.

This is determined by how much you are willing to bid for your ad to appear on the front-page and in which position.

The benefit of this advertising is that it enables your business to get found on the front page of Google where 98% of all browsers go to find products or services first these days.

Not only that but you also get to :

1. Choose your daily budget

2. Select what geographic areas you want your site to get found by. For example, if you are a local dentist and you only want to target people in a certain part of the city, then you can select that option for your campaign.

3. Select what page on your website to direct traffic to. many business owners build specific ‘landing-pages’ just for their PPC campaigns to maximize enquiries.

4. Work out your ROI (return on investment) real quickly

5. Know exactly how many people visit your site and what actions they take when they get there

6. Have a non-stop flood of highly targeted leads going to your website for less than a cup of coffee in some cases

7. Become a dominant player in your industry on the Internet virtually overnight.

8. and so much more…

So, this is the upside, what is the downside you might ask?

Well, after running hundreds of PPC campaigns for hundreds of local businesses I can tell you that the biggest mistake I see people make with this type of advertising is trying to do it themselves, without the proper training or experience and wasting time and money getting no results.

Click here to enquire about our Google Adwords programs

But if you were to try doing it yourself here is what I recommend:

  • Bid on lots of cheap, targeted keywords and phrases, including misspellings — and avoid the expensive general words that everyone is bidding on.
  • Never bid more per click than what a single visitor is worth to your site — it’s the best way to make sure your ads remain profitable.
  • Get listed in the “other” PPC search engines — you may be able to bid on popular terms you can’t afford in  Google AdWords.
  • Target your ads as much as possible. Write “custom” ads for each keyword and use the various bid management and targeting tools offered by the different PPC search engines to reduce your costs and increase your clicks.
  • Design your landing pages so they convert qualified visitors to buyers. If your ads promise “cat toys with bells,” makesure they actually direct visitors to a page where it’s easy for them to buy these items!

Then, if after you’ve been running your campaign for awhile and it’s still not delivering you the results you were after, please seek the help of an Adwords trained professional.

If you would like to find out more about our PPC programs and how we can start delivering you highly targeted traffic to your website within a few days from now then Click Here to enquire about our Google Adwords programs