Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a highly sought after service within Internet marketing packages. With a wide range of companies offering SEO to small businesses, weeding out the good SEO companies from the tricksters is becoming more difficult to do.
While SEO is important for your small business online success, here are our top five SEO scams that small business owners should avoid.
1. We’ve Evaluated Your Website and It’s Not Ranking Well For Important Terms
Now, do you really think that company would waste (at minimum) several hours poring over your website and truly giving it a fair assessment from the human perspective and then send it to you in hopes you will buy their services? No, they would not. Mostly likely, they used some automated tool to generate a report which, by the way, is not specific to your website, only to your industry.
Of course, there are excellent tools out there for finding onsite issues pertaining to SEO. However, unless that company has access to your Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools accounts, there’s absolutely no way they can provide you a legitimate detailed report or assessment of your website.
2. We Guarantee You X Top Ranking in X Time
If you get this type of email or phone call; claiming to be able to guarantee your site #1 spot for search terms on Google, you have my permission to immediately put that email in your spam folder or just immediately hang up the phone. Since Google actually hires SEO experts to make sure their own site ranks well, because even they can’t just inject their site into the #1 position in Google search results, do you really think that the SEO expert that sent you that email or called you can accomplish that task?…no they cannot.
3. We Can Generate Hundreds Of Links To Your Website
Be especially leery of this one. Any links you may get from such claims are more likely to hurt your website than to help it. Building links to the wrong websites or building links too fast is considered blackhat SEO (techniques that are used to get higher search rankings in an unethical manner) and can actually damage the credibility of your website in search engines. Google will penalize your site heavily and/or blacklist your site.
Also, don’t put low-quality links on your own site and avoid reciprocal linking. Robots are smart and know when you are trying to cheat the system!
Instead, spend time building quality inbound links.
The best way to get links is simple: offer meaningful content (and lots of it), and control who promotes your products and services.
4. We’ll Need You To Sign Our SEO and Meta Data Copyright Agreement
What? Would you give your car keys to a person that you just met, had a 15 minute conversation with and then that person says to you, Say, my car won’t start. I need your keys to drive your car home. Crazy, right?
While it is a fairly common practice in the industry for the SEO person/company to ask for copyrights to the SEO data they create for your site, it is NOT in your best interest as a small business owner to sign such an agreement. It’s unnecessary and it’s usually done as a tactic to strong arm people into staying with the marketing company.
Furthermore, your SEO should be 100% unique to your site. In theory, no one else should be able to apply it to their own site and get the same results. You cannot sell your own meta data – no one would buy it! So what is there to protect?
5. We Can’t Reveal Our SEO Formula, It’s A Trade Secret
You should be immediately concerned if the SEO company/person refuses to discuss any of the techniques they use. Either they are using blackhat tactics or you’re speaking with a sales person and they don’t have a clue what techniques are being used by their SEO department. SEO isn’t a big mystery anymore, but it is a lot of hard work and keeping everything organized.
Additionally, meta data itself does not contain any trade secrets. It is a series of words and descriptions and other things that help your website perform.