How to Avoid SEO Cowboys and not get Ripped off!

There are a lot of people out there claiming they can provide web solutions including SEO services, which are top of the agenda for a lot of businesses out there.

There are a lot of people around who will use lines such as ‘i can get your business at the top of google’ and they will say lines like this because it is an effecitve strategy in being able to manipulate the client into forcing them to listen to them.

Often people can be left confused and overwhelmed. Often saying yes to these people is a good way in your mind to be sure that all of that stuff i dont get is being looked after. There are people out there who will take the money, do the minimum and be able to blag it off that they are doing what is required.

So i have constructed a series of questions and common approaches with the best way to answer or understand legitimate people vs the Cowboys!

First of all, one of the most common things someone will say is something like..

I can get your business to the top of google!

or..

I can get your business to the top of google for the keyword/keyphrase! “….”

Generally speaking, anyone who says this is probably lying and it is a good way i guess to test the water to see if you at the other end understands SEO or not.

You cannot get to the top of google overnight, and it can take a very long time to establish yourself as an authority of your area of expertise online. It is also dependant on the competition. If someone knows little about your competition then there is no way they can make such a claim.

If they say “i can get your business to the top of google” then ask them, for which keywords or keyphrases?

This will show them that you understand what you are talking about. You cannot be on top of google unless there is a search with words involved.

Another common approach is to merely just try and purposefully over complicate things. They may use keywords and terms like ‘Google panda’ ‘SEM’ ‘Search Engine Algorithm’ ‘Black Hat SEO’ ‘White Hat SEO’

You can read about these terms, but dont be scared of them. Acknowledge that there are things about SEO you wont understand and thats why you want to hire a webmaster to do the work for you. If not you could do it yourself!

Best ways to ensure SEO expectations are met.

It would be crazy for someone to promise top of google as mentioned previously. But what are they promising? You cant get to the top of Google on your set of key phrases or even get on the first page without someone actually doing some work!

Ask them how they are going to show search ranking improvements?
The straight and to the point answer would be ‘Using Google Webmaster Tools’ If they do not mention Google Webmaster Tools then assume that they dont plan on telling you, or dont know how to! (kick them out!) They may offer an excel spreadsheet which gives a breakdown but it would be much more of a valid option to receive reports directly from Google Webmaster Tools, as the figures could not be tampered with!

Are you looking to reach people locally? Then the person, if they know their stuff should know that you need to make sure you are on Google Places, and have a listing that shows your working hours and has great images of your business. This listing should be optimised and show off your business.

If they dont mention this after saying i want to reach people locally, then understand that you would be missing out SEO value by not having an optimised Google Places listing.

Also ask them what they would change about the website to ensure that your business is more likely to come up for searches based in your town. They should answer with things like
‘changing page titles to include the town name’
‘including the town name in body of articles.’
‘creating more content with a town name’

The overall goal of any local industry SEO strategy should be to.
become an authority for given industry and town name

To do this you need a lot of detail about each aspect of what it is you do. So for me, a write a lot about SEO, so i have lots of inbound links about SEO all pointing to my SEO page that has lots of articles about SEO. This is me trying to become an authority in Ipswich for SEO. Notice how my link encompasses the term Ipswich AND SEO. This is known as Anchor text. The text that makes up the link you are pointing to. In summary this Anchor Text is a big part of what an SEO expert should be doing. Across your whole site in all the content we should be pointing to content that is relevant to that anchor text. Exactly how wikipedia will use anchor text to point to the article about that particular person, or year, or even word and its definition. Think of all the categories of your industry, do you have a page for everything your business represents and does it go into lots of detail with internal links pointing to that relevant content?

Most importantly, if you take anything away..
Dont be afraid to ask questions. Taking out any technical words.. Ask yourself, is this person lying me? Are they trying to convince me or trying to overwhelm me? Does what they are saying make sense or are they just trying to use what i dont know against me?

If you want to hire me to do your SEO work then dont be afraid to ask me some questions. Help me understand what you need and I will be happy to assist you. I focus on small businesses and help them compete with the bigger companies online. Get in touch

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