For companies looking for an SEO, the process can be confusing. There is a lot of jargon that the uninitiated business owner likely doesn’t know, and the field is absolutely full of companies offering what initially look like the same thing. But, as they say, the devil is in the details.
There are certain things the uninformed local business owner can keep an eye out for to help the process. Stoney deGeyter knows these warning signs as well as anyone, as he writes about small business SEO all the time, and has seen more than a few SEOs offering questionable or outdated methods.
Some SEOs will advertise that they can get you ranked on a selection of websites like MSN, Ask.com, or AltaVista. The more search engines they can get you on, the better right? Nope. I personally have seen sites offering to get you on MSN rankings which is an immediate red flag considering MSN isn’t a search engine anymore. It changed to Bing years ago. Ask.com is the fourth most used search engine and it only pulls in around 3-percent of all searches. The point is, if they can’t get you on Google or Bing, they won’t actually be able to help you much.
Another misleading promise is to get your site the number one spot in the rankings, no matter what. If this was possible, SEO would be stunningly easy, but it is not possible and SEO is far too competitive and complex for any guarantee of this kind to be anything but a bluff. SEO companies have no direct control over where search engines rank sites. Our job isn’t to achieve a certain ranking, but to get your page ranking as high as possible over numerous keywords in a competitive market. A good SEO should certainly be able to raise your ratings, but you can’t expect to get the top ranking for “local restaurant” just because a company promised it.
One way to tell if an SEO is out of touch with the current SEO climate is to look to see if they advertise search engine or directory submission services. This went out of vogue in 1998, but there are still companies proclaiming their services as if they are useful. Aside from Pay-Per-Click, and Pay-To-Be-Included type results, the only way to get your site found is to design it to be found. There is a reason Google doesn’t have a submission option. They haven’t been needed in years.
There are tons of other warning signs to watch out for, and deGeyter shares four more in his article. Unfortunately, SEO has just enough bad eggs that uninformed local business owners are often taken advantage of with false promises or downright ineffective methods. Some are actively trying to pull one over on innocent business owners, some are just out of touch with current SEO, but either way they aren’t worth your dollar.