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Saturday, March 17, 2012

How to Identify Bad SEO Companies & SEO Scams

Having a website is a great way to spread the word about a company, but without proper optimizing, a website may never be found in the search engines. Search engine optimization companies work to bring websites more traffic by improving the site's ranking in search engines.

There has been a lot of negative press about SEO, in general, and it's because of SEO scams and terrible SEO companies. While there are a lot of scams in the SEO business, search engine optimization is still an extremely important aspect in building a website. This is why it's important to give a lot of thought in selecting a company to do the work.

Bad SEO companies work under the assumption that business owners know nothing about the Internet. All the company has to do is dazzle with graphics and use a bunch of flashy tech jargon to convince business owners that they know what they are talking about. However, by understanding what red flags to look out for, it's easier to confidently select the right SEO company for the job.

They Guarantee a Top Ranking
While there is a lot of appeal in a company that can guarantee a top ranking for a great keyword, this is impossible. An SEO company cannot guarantee this -- AT ALL. Many scam SEO companies blatantly say that they can get a website ranked for amazing keywords, but there is no guarantee, even for the best SEO companies, that this can happen.

Some companies go so far as to say that they have an inside person at Google who knows the algorithm. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Sadly, this is a really appealing promise, so many of these companies make a fortune with their "guarantees."

One-Size-Fits-All Packages
Different websites have different needs. Because of this, an SEO company cannot use the same exact methods for one site as they used for another site. The work required for site optimization for one website will likely be totally different because of varying content management systems (if a site even has one), what optimization has already been done on the site, and even because of the wording on a site. Furthermore, a site may require many more (or less) backlinks in order to rank based on what keywords are selected.

Many companies sells packages such as "on-site optimization and 100 backlinks for $600." While it is likely the company will actually do the work, will 100 backlinks be enough? Does the website even need 100 backlinks? A good SEO company will research a website and its keywords in order to custom tailor a package that fits that particular site.

Their Idea of Backlinking is Article Directories
The best backlinks come from reputable sites, however, it takes a lot of work to get a backlink from a reputable source. For example, writing an excellent press release takes a lot more work than just churning out a quick article. It's also more difficult to get access to great backlinks. Because of this, many SEO companies resort to article directories and even link directories as a source of backlinks.

Link directories are perhaps the worst places to get backlinks and article directories are not far behind. Having a handful of articles floating out there isn't a bad idea, but they should mostly be at reputable sites. Any articles should be well-written and should offer interest to actual readers (not just for the search engine to see the link.) A good SEO company will help a business obtain reputable backlinks from a wide variety of sources including press releases, blogs, news articles, and more.

They Don't Rank for Anything
Many SEO companies don't actually rank for anything themselves. While many keywords are nearly impossible to rank for, the company should rank for something semi-competitive. By finding out what keywords an SEO company is trying to rank for and seeing whether or not they rank for them, it's easy to find whether or not the company is worthwhile.

It's very important to note the keywords the company ranks for. If they rank for competitive keywords like "INSERT_STATE_HERE SEO", then maybe it's a good company, but if they only target and rank for something extremely long-tail that nobody searches for like "We do SEO in our underwear" then look for someone else.

They Sell Mass Quantities of Backlinks
Along with the one-size-fits all packages, many bad SEO companies like to just sell backlinks. How does this make them an SEO company? The only thing they offer is backlinks and no insight as to whether or not they will do any good for a specific website. While many of these backlink packages seem reasonably priced (100 backlinks for only $35!!!!), many of the links purchased are actually worthless and offer no real value to a site's SEO efforts.

The folks at good SEO companies are fully aware (and will even tell business owners) that the quality of backlinks is a billion times more important than the quantity. A good, strong backlink from a reputable source will far outweigh any mass package of tons of easy to obtain back links.

They Won't Reveal Their Methods
Tons of SEO scams work under the premise of "our trade secret." This is code for: we won't tell you what we're doing. SEO isn't a huge hush hush secret. Why would a company hide what their doing? It's a fairly simple, yet extremely monotonous process:

Figure out what a website needs
Come up with a plan for the site
Do any needed site optimization
Monitor progress
There's no reason a company should hide what they are doing for a company's website. Business owners should be be allowed to play a role in the planning process and be 100% aware of what techniques will be used.

A bulk of SEO companies love to hide behind the phrase, "trade secret," but there is no reason for this. There is an enormous amount of information on search engine optimization on the Internet freely available at anyone's fingertips. Why all the secrets?

There are a lot of SEO scams on the Internet, but that should not deter a a business owner from looking for someone to optimize their site for search engines. Search engine optimization, when done right, is an amazing long-term marketing method.

When looking for a company to do SEO, it's important to do the research and ask questions. Before working with a company, look them up in the Better Business Bureau. By getting the facts about a company before doing business, it can make all the difference.