The hunt for a qualified, experienced search engine optimization (SEO) professional can be daunting. Small business owners are frequently too busy running their companies to know what to look for while novice in-house marketers at large corporations can just as easily be fooled. On the other end, there’s a plethora of SEO companies and freelancers vying for new clients’ dollars. The promise of easy wealth through search engine traffic is too strong to resist for a lot of businesses and this has led to some shady practices.
What follows is a list of common quotes that are red flags. In other words, should you hear these statements from someone in the SEO industry, it’s a sure bet that they aren’t the company you want to hire, no matter how enticing they make their deals sound. What you don’t know could destroy your business. For example, companies that over-optimize your website can get it penalized in Google to the extent that it gets thrown from the first page of a search engine results page to rank on the 20th page where no one will find it. Let the buyer beware!
“We Guarantee Top Rankings”
It is impossible to guarantee top rankings when no one, including the programmers at Google or the other search engines, can assure you of where your website will appear. In fact, Google even states on its website that “No one can guarantee a # ranking on Google.”
“You Must Link to Our Other Clients”
It is well-known in the SEO industry that linking between websites can be a powerful way to boost rankings. That said, if an SEO company forces you to link to their other clients, you could be in for trouble.
“Don’t Worry, We Know Someone at Google”
One common practice is to claim that they have a special relationship with someone who works at Google. Lots of people have connections in all kinds of businesses and so intuitively, it makes sense that someone with a connection to Google can get them higher rankings. The problem is that while it’s easy to believe, it’s not true. What’s more, even if were true, they couldn’t’ and wouldn’t make an exception just for your business. In some cases, the company may have done a Google AdWords training that allows them to place a banner on their website stating that they completed a course but that has nothing to do with SEO or knowing someone at Google.
“We Will Submit Your Website to 1,000 Search Engines”
Promising to submit your website to thousands of search engines is the grandfather of SEO scams. Avoiding a lengthy explanation of how modern search engines like Google function, I will say that there was a time, back in the mid-1990s, when submitting to search engines was commonplace. You would literally go to the submit page and send them the link to your website. By the late 1990s, search engines were crawling through the web, discovering websites on their own and that’s how it works today. If any company tells you that they’ll submit your website for a mere $29.95, don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Can you even think of more than 5 search engines? Neither can your customers! So even if it were true and your site was submitted to a thousand search engines, no one would be using them anyway.
“We Offer a Free Trial”
Real SEO takes a lot of work. It requires strategic planning, keyword analyses, copywriting, code implementation and a lot more. If SEO companies were giving legitimate free trials, they’d go bankrupt pretty quickly.
“We’re Experts at Keyword Meta-Tags”
Meta-tags are parts of the code of your website. That is, the languages that makes up the behind-the-scene part of a website. Certain meta-tags are important for SEO, they have been since the early days, and more are created every few years. However, SEO is a lot more than meta-tags and any company proclaiming that they’re experts at it without mentioning other significant aspects of SEO should be decidedly avoided.
“Thank You for Calling Us Based on Our Random Email”
Never trust a supposed SEO expert who sends you a random email. Unfortunately, desperate SEO companies have taken to sending out spam mail to try to get your business. Never, ever trust these companies. Aside from finding ways to empty your company’s marketing budget, these companies will typically try to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge if you’ll let them.