By itself, the term SEO seems benign. The concept is straightforward enough: companies are looking to optimize their websites as much as possible in order to be search engine friendly, attract the right visitors and improve rankings. Seems reasonable and not the least bit sinister.
Unfortunately, people often associate SEO with outbound and black hat marketing strategies. The term has taken on a whole new connotation and I don’t blame businesses who have been burned by supposed SEO companies in the past if they recoil a little at the term. For those unfamiliar with the field and looking for help, this terminology can often be used to obfuscate and sell customers on snake oil.
It is hard not to picture a Snidley Whiplash type character twisting his mustache and laughing manically when you hear the term. This is unfortunate for both companies in need of services and those who can actually provide those quality services. A quick google search will bring up plenty of testimonials and articles from companies who have been taken for a ride by SEO companies to the point where SEO has become a dirty word.
How to Avoid Bad SEO Companies
1. Do your research. Take some time to become familiar basic terms and what kinds of expectations you should have from an SEO company. This will prevent them from talking over your head.
2. Don’t hire anyone who promises guaranteed results. If it sounds too good to be true, then it is. The truth is that there simply isn’t anyway to promise X amount of visitors in X amount of time or guarantee that your site will achieve top rankings in a matter of days. There are far too many variables involved.
3. Don’t hire anyone who claims to have a special trick or secret to SEO. There is no secret code to crack. SEO and online marketing are all about putting in the time and effort. Anyone is perfectly capable of implementing their own strategies. The difference is that most small businesses and owners simply don’t have the time to work on marketing their website. They are busy with other practical day-to-day business matters that demand their attention.
4. Don’t work with anyone promising thousands of links. This is a clear signal that they will be paying for links, which will result in poor quality links and big trouble with search engines who penalize these types of practices.
5. DO hire someone who focuses on inbound marketing strategies. You want them to talk to you about creating content that has real value to potential customers. Different areas of content creation and inbound marketing include:
If all they can talk about is link building and rankings without offering a clear content strategy, run the other way!
6. Don’t hiring a company who cold-called you with a sales pitch. This means that they, themselves, are practicing black hat marketing. Do you really want to work with a marketing company who can’t market their own company?
Yes, there are a disturbing number of SEO companies out there willing to make big promises, take your money and not give you anything in return. However, you can avoid being another victim of a scam simply by doing your homework and remembering that modern online marketing strategies will focus on inbound marketing, which means content creation.
If you want to hire the Dudley Do-Right of online marketing, contact Belo Consulting today and we can start working on a strategy that is specific to your goals and your business.