Don’t let them sell you SEO, it is generally a rip off

Search Engine Optimisation by definition should be the process of “Optimising a website for search engines.” Something seems to have got lost somewhere, for example I have had someone call me up and say “Hey Dougal, my cousins husband who is a bit of a geek told me all about “SEO’s” so, can you put some on my company website? Yeah it’s a site that a friend of mine built for me a couple of years ago!” This is the moment where I type in the url and am greeted by a horror of horrors. Then I have to tactfully suggest that it is probably best they hold off on too many “SEO’s” for now and concentrate on figuring out what it is they want people to do once they are actually on the site, apart from deciding never to use that company in the future.

I digress. But, the point I am trying to make is that I think it is all a bit misunderstood. Search Engine Optimisation is not Marketing and it cannot replace it, of course an optimised website will help your marketing program, it may even save you a few quid.

A few everyday examples

  1. The cold calling “SEO Specialists” promising the worldIf you are a SME owner, the chances are you will quite often get cold called by some person offering you the unique opportunity to be on the top of the first page of Google for your choice of 10 keyword searches, all for £100 per month for example. Yes apparently there is enough room for all the companies they are calling to be on the top page of google.The latest trend is a Facebook advertising campaign that they manage for you, even though the developers at Facebook have spent a lot of time making it very easy for you to manage all by yourself.I have never yet met any company that has had a good experience with these sorts of deals, or even managed to get close to a return on their investment.Don’t get me wrong, I think well managed Facebook and Google adwords campaigns can work, if they are done well. However, it seems that cold calling companies generally don’t do it that well. Just to warn you, some people have also lost a ridiculous amount of money getting it wrong themselves, so, always make sure you have limits on what you let the campaigns spend.

  1. Backlinking and the “link Farms”Link farms sound quite nice to me, maybe it is a place where links go round holding hands, getting drunk and cow tipping. As far as i’m aware though it is a place where lots of people usually in third world countries sit very close to each other on old pcs and create links all over the intertubes that point back to your site. It is a hideous practice and American retailer JC Penney recently received a nice pair of concrete search engine shoes for it’s association with the dark art

    The process of climbing the natural search rankings by trickery rather than merit is referred  to as a “black Hat” technique.I think people still get away with it, In fact I have studied the incoming links of a highly ranked competitors site for a client. In 2 minutes of looking I found many links from very hardcore porn sites which might not be so bad if they were selling adult toys for example, but, what they sell is for kids……ouch!

  1. Gonna tweak the SeoThere are also companies out there who will “tweak your SEO.” Now, I have had a few of these elusive types do some tweaking on some sites I have built and have only really seen a small gain in performance.I am guessing that they are spending a little extra time getting some relevant keywords in there and making sure the rest of the meta information is in tip top shape.In fact I have a little update on one of these “elusives.” A site I had been working pretty hard on that was starting to generate sales quite well, suddenly disappeared from all the searches. I am 80% sure that this is a result of the guy spamming keywords…or “keyword stuffing” as it is often referred to!

    So what is the best way to get a busy site?

    What search engines like is money (just take a look at Google). Luckily they also like good content. Yes it is that word “content.”
    A lot of people tend to forget this, but it is the only reason people have to come visit you online. Why on earth would they visit your website otherwise…..

    Stop trying to impress Robots

    If your website is compelling and rich, people will bookmark it and recommend it, they may even come back. so BE POSITIVE! Why spend your hard earned denarii paying somebody to fiddle about with a few keywords and sentences that may work for 3 months then become a negative impact on your ranking. A far better idea is to pay someone to CREATE SOMETHING like a beautifully written article, that humans might actually want to read, not just nonsense for robots. The article can remain as a positive feature for years.

    Is your site ready for visitors?

    There is this bloke who is trying to get me to sell some software to my clients for a referral fee. He asked me the other day if I did SEO. I said “No, not really. Why?” He then explained that he has a client who has a website, but, because it looks bad and is out of date, he has suggested she gets some SEO work done……. I kindly explained that that is missing the point completely.

    My suggestion here would be to possibly get the site in order before paying to get people on it. Sounds to me like they would be in the very mortal words of Fat Mike “Flossing a dead horse.” Joking aside, it is the most important thing to get your website

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