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Turtle and the Hare Illustration

Source: Tsahi Levent-Levi

Many businesses come to SEO agencies looking for quick and easy solutions to their online problems. More often than not, all they want is to get high up in the rankings on Google, and they want to be there now.

In the past, there were ways to make this possible, though they’ve always been perceived as shady methods of optimization. Now, with Google’s continued push to make search more rewarding for the users rather than the companies fighting for the rankings, most of those techniques are completely obsolete.

That doesn’t mean you won’t find people still trying to sell you on these methods, but you will find that if you follow their advice, you won’t see your site suddenly excelling in the rankings. Instead, you will find Google slamming the door in your face by penalizing your site for your disingenuous optimization.

I found one of these groups still pushing the out of date, insta-SEO methods in a newsletter I recently came across, but I found it humorous. It seems now even the companies selling these “quick and easy” SEO “solutions” can’t even hide the reality of the situation.

The newsletter offers four “solutions” which will all sound very familiar to anyone keeping up with the SEO industry. They suggest buying links from high PR pages, joining backlink networks, using software to get quick backlinks from social sites, and using scripts to quickly fill your website with content. Do those sound familiar? If they do, you’ve probably read a list of what NOT to do in SEO within the past year.

What makes this newsletter so funny to me is that every “solution” comes with the concession that “Google doesn’t like them at all.” Every solution spends one short paragraph detailing how the methods (used to) work, but then they are all paired with a warning underneath explaining how Google has adapted to these methods and learned to cut them out of the rankings.

There is even a checklist at the bottom which tells you when to avoid the methods, and the checklist is basically made up of asking “is the website for a company?” and “do you want to succeed?” If you answered yes to either of those, even the people offering this advice admit you shouldn’t be using “quick and easy” SEO. If I didn’t know better, I would think their advice was satire, however they seem too eager to tell business owners that these methods will get you to the top of Google quickly.

The truth is, SEO is slow and the only way to build long lasting success is to keep up to date with Google’s best practices. If you want quick online success, sure you can use these spammy methods, but they won’t last long at all, and it is better to put your money towards optimization that has some sort of long-term chance of survival.

I’ve been taking a look at some of my competition lately and seeing their bragging about achieving first page ranking for keywords, and in some cases top position ranking for keywords.  Well, for people who are looking to get SEO services from a company or an individual, be sure to keep some things in mind before being impressed by achievements such as these.

There’s a good list of things to double check (or to ask) when you see rankings like this in a portfolio:

  1. How many results do you get for that keyword in the search engine? If you do a search in Google and get under 200,000 listings, there’s a good chance it’s very easy to rank for that keyword.  There are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, if no one’s competing for the keyword, it’s easy to rank for.  But again – if no one’s competing for the keyword, chances are it’s not worth ranking for.  We’ve got a few clients with keywords that are ranked on the first page that have search results numbering over 6,000,000.
  2. What kind of traffic does that keyword get? There are different ways to learn about this, but you should see if the keywords that are being ranked highly actually get good traffic.  You may have a number one position, but if it only gets two searches a month – is it really something that’s worth it?  As always, there are exceptions to this rule (if you can close on one of those two searches and it’s worth six figures, that’d be worth it), but usually getting no traffic means the keyword is not worth as much.
  3. What other keywords are ranked for that site? So they have shown a single keyword phrase for their SEO’d site.  Is it the only one that’s ranked?  A good SEO should be able to rank highly for multiple keywords.  Ideally, multiple targeted keywords.
  4. Is the SEO company’s site ranking for keywords? If the company claims to do SEO, it would make sense that they would rank for keywords themselves, correct?  If you ask and they can show no good results for their own site in the search engines, be very cautious about trusting them with your own site.

When you hire someone for SEO work, they should be able to provide information on what keywords they are targeting and show you the results that it’s bringing.  Having a particular ranking is worth nothing if you don’t see results from that position in the search engine listings.  Check this list to see what those results are really worth, and if it’s good SEO or just easy SEO to put something into a portfolio.