Monday, March 27, 2006

How to Avoid Search Engine Optimization Scams

Search Engine Optimization scams are nothing new. I've been watching seo companies offering all kinds of questionable programs since I started working in seo in the late nineties.

The troubling part is I see them getting worse before they get better. The seo industry is growing faster each year; 125% in 2005 and predicted to grow 150% more in 2006 according to SEMPO, a search engine optimisation industry organization. With professional seo companies charging anywhere from $2000 and 30,000 per month, the stakes are higher now than they were a few years ago, so the competition is getting fiercer.

We gained a customer last year who came to us to fix their broken seo program after they hired a company they met via e-mail. Their rankings had improved but the only pages that showed up in the search results were very ugly, spammy doorway pages that no-one would ever click on.

The first rule of thumb? Don't buy search engine optimization that is promoted to you via unsolicited email. You want to get to know a company that is going to be intimately involved in the your sites evolution.

Rule number two - get references. This can help identify companies that are more interested in cheap customer acquisition than providing value.

I have been recently been cold-called by a few ambitious seo companies looking for my business. You would think they would do a little more research so as to avoid calling my Toronto search engine optimization company trying to sell search engine optimisation! If you have ended up becoming interested in seo services after a call like this - do yourself a favour and get three quotes. And not only for price comparison but for more important service comparison. Seo is expertise, it's not a commodity.

Rule Number three - get educated on the issues of search engine optimization. When evaluating seo companies for your site, ask and take the time to listen to their proposed plan for your project and compare.

Simply put, seo requires about three or four general areas of knowledge and activity (depending on how you divide it). Unless your potential seo company has a good plan for each of the areas, your solution likely won't provide much benefit.

This is what needs attention on your site:

  • The content. The quality, quantity, depth and freshness are essential. One of the reasons why the good seo companies charge so much per month is because they need to work with you on the planning, creation and optimization of new content. You should be prepared to work with your seo on this, and they should be recommending quality, desirable content for your audience.
  • The code. This is also all of the technical stuff you don't see such as the alternate picture tags, the page titles, the coding of the important elements such as headlines and subheadlines, the page names, the javascript, the stylesheets and more.
  • The architecture. This includes where pages are located, how they are linked, which pages link to each other and what those links say.
  • Your site popularity. The above three are only as important as your sites linkage within the web of other related sites on the Internet. If few other related sites link to yours, your site cannot be very important and will be treated as such in the search results. Visit our site for more information on increasing link popularity.
Anatomy of an SEO scam
One of my top reads these days is the blog by Black Hat SEO. I believe that as an seo expert you need to be at least up to date on the techniques in the black arts so you know what you are up against. He recently published a supposedly funny , but actually quite scary article on how to make $200k per year as a search engine optimization scammer.

The future of the search engine optimization industry:
Now contrast this with a fabulous article written by one of the best SEO's in the business, Bruce Clay. In the emperors new clothes, Bruce lays out his vision of the future of search engine optimization. He covers the main challenges and what it takes to rise to the challenge for the honest and professional SEO practitioner:

Google's take on the SEO industry:
Google has published a page of tips on how to distinguish between good and bad search engine optimization companies.

Information on my Toronto Search Engine Optimization Company:
Toronto Search Engine Optimization Company

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