SEO agencies make a lot of promises. Before you hire an SEO agency, make sure you're well aware of the blackhat SEO companies.
Just about everyone knows a cheesy pickup line or two (Are you lost miss? Because heaven is a long way from here!).
Whenever we hear those tacky pickup lines we think to ourselves, "who could ever fall for something that stupid sounding?" We recognize a pickup line the minute we hear it and disregard it almost immediately. But did you know that the SEO industry has its fair share of pickup lines that Web site owners should recognize and disregard just as fast?
Too often unsuspecting site owners are swept away by these 3 black hat SEO pickup lines:
"We can guarantee you'll be on the first page of Google inside of the month."
Google says it flat out in their SEO webmaster guidelines, "No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google." Yet dozens of black hat SEO consultant and companies promise that they know the "secret" to getting your site to the top of the SERP. There is no secret to SEO, no magic formula that you can follow to catapult your site to the coveted number one spot. Any SEO company toting a guarantee is looking to capitalize on unsuspecting and uneducated site owners. Oh you'll rank #1, just like they promised, but it will be for an incredibly long-tail, obscure keyword that no one searches for. But hey, they delivered on their guarantee!
A white hat SEO firm is going to do everything they can to help your Web site succeed, but even they can't predict with absolute certainty what is going to happen.
There are 200 factors that Google takes into account when determining where your site will fall in the SERPs. Some of these factors (like the age of your site) are out of your SEO provider's hands. A strong SEO campaign will help you build your overall online presence, increase your traffic and conversion rate and slowly lift your site up in rank, but SEO is so long-term that you can't specify when exactly all that will happen.
"You don't have to pay until you see the results you want!"
Are you willing to work for free for three months? six months? A year?
That's how long it could take to see real success that you can contribute to your SEO campaign. White hat SEO is incredibly long-term, which means you'll have to be a little patient. Great campaigns with a lot of potential are often cut off at the knees because site owners got jumpy and pulled the plug too soon.
Part of the reason black hat SEO is so tempting is because it produces quick, measurable results. Those results make your SEO provider look good to you, which makes you look good to your boss. But here's the catch-any success earned with black hat SEO tactics is short-lived and ultimately meaningless.
You may be able to show your boss a spreadsheet with 5,000 links in it, but 98% of them come from splogs and link farms, meaning they don't have much real SEO value. So you'll pay for the work and watch your site nosedive back down once the SEO company stops working.
Some black hat SEO companies will even undo some of the link building they did on behalf of your site, especially if a good portion of the links were just coming from other spammed sites that the company owned.
"SEO is going to be the answer to all your online marketing needs."
SEO can do a lot of things, and is certainly one of the most valuable marketing tools you have to leverage on behalf of your brand, but SEO is not a Band-Aid that can fix all your Internet marketing woes.
If you don't have a well-defined brand, strong point of differentiation and clearly outlined messaging strategy in place BEFORE you start thinking about SEO, your SEO campaign will never be able to get off the ground. You need to be able to identify you key competitors (which may not be the same as your top offline competitors) and understand your target audience and how their live their online lives.
Just like any other marketing campaign, SEO needs a strong foundation to springboard off of.
Editor's Note: Nick Stamoulis is the president of Boston SEO agency, Brick Marketing. With more than 12 years of Internet marketing experience, Stamoulis shares his knowledge by offering SEO consulting services and writing daily SEO tips in his blog, the Search Engine Optimization Journal (or SEO Journal). Contact Stamoulis at 781-999-1222 or email@example.com.
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