Avoid SEO Firms That Guarantee #1 Placement
Many shoddy search engine optimization (SEO) firms solicit their services by guaranteeing top placement in the search engines. We've all received the unsolicited email messages (spam) about how they can move your website into the top position in no time at all.
Unfortunately, these fly by night spammers do not have direct relationships with any of the search engines. Even worse, engaging with one of these unethical firms can get your website banned from the search engines, which is very difficult to reverse once your website has been flagged.
In reality, top notch SEO firms do relatively little marketing because they have more business than they can shake a stick at. Real SEO firms get tons of referrals and speaking engagements so they can be highly selective about the engagements they accept. And they would never promise, let alone guarantee, top listings in the search engines.
What are the signs that you are being solicited by an unethical SEO firm?
Be wary of SEO firms that send you email out of the blue
Unsolicited emails for search engine optimization services should be treated with the same amount of consideration as blind emails for diet pills, Viagara, etc. The typical email reads like this:
Dear Website Owner,
I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines.....
A legitiamate SEO service company will not cold-call (or cold-email) you. These types of scam emails are usually very easy to spot. You want to look for:
- Do they call you by your name or refer to you as "website owner," "Sir/Madam," or call you by your website's url?
- What email address are they emailing you from? This can often be a clear sign of a scam. Legitimate businesses will have real email addresses with domains that go to real websites.
- Do they try to guarantee a #1 ranking in Google?
No firms can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google
Google has a very specific algorithm that decides what websites will show in what order on their search result pages. And, this algorithm changes countless times every year. That means it's impossible to guarantee you'd be at the #1 place in Google. No SEO firms have a special relationship with Google. None. Ignore guarantees as a bogus claim.
Avoid firms that promise to use special software to automatically submit your website to the search engines.
The major search engines do not want software programs automatically submitting websites to them. They view it as spam and treat these submittals accordingly. If a company is telling you they use special technology to automatically submit your website to these search engines you should be wary. True SEO needs to be done by a SEO professional, not an automated machine.
Don't agree to invisible text and hiding text
There was an old SEO technique of making text on a website page invisible, making it the same color as the web page background, and hiding text behind layers. The point was to stuff keywords onto a website in order to try to increase its placement in the search engines. This is something that has been against the SEO rules for many years. Websites that attempt this black hat SEO is obvious to search engines and will get your website penalized.
Be careful of SEO firms that want to use cloaking as a tool
The search engines hate websites that use doorway pages and deceptive redirects that unethical firms use to trick the search engines. If you get caught, your site will be banned.
Avoid SEO firms claiming to improve your SEO within a week or two
Successful SEO takes time. When done correctly, SEO can be the most powerful aspect of your website. But, if you want true, evergreen, and sustained growth you have to be willing to put in the time. Organic Search Engine Optimization takes months to take effect. Then, more months after that to improve over time.
In a nutshell, no SEO company can guarantee where your website will appear within the natural (organic) search engine results as top placement. Organic search engine optimization takes months and ongoing effort to deliver improved results.
Part of the reason is that the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) keep their algorithms closely guarded to keep anyone from gaming the system and manipulate rankings. The major search engines ultimate goal is to deliver the best websites that match your search, not deliver the websites that cheat the system the best.
Like hiring other professional service firms, always check references before engaging with an SEO firm. And your contract should state that the firm will stay within the guidelines recommended by each major search engine.
By Hugh Duffy
Hugh Duffy is the Chief Marketing Officer for Build Your Firm www.buildyourfirm.com, a Marketing & Practice Development firm for accounting firms. They offer SEO Accounting Websites that come with high-quality search engine optimization designed exclusively for the accounting industry.