SEO Companies - Don't Waste Your Money
Wednesday, 12th December 2012, 16:16
There was a time when you could do a bunch of things to your website which would take your pages from the 100th to the top spot on Google, but things change. Sure, there are a small number of things still worth doing, I'll note those at the end after I've had my moan, consider them payback for reading the whinging.
But the main fact is, all the main search engines, of which Google is obviously the biggest, know the difference between gaming the system and genuine content. At times they can be fooled, but none of these times last very long, so at best any advantage you gain this way is short lived.
The SEO Company Bull'o'meter
I'm going to quote a message we got which is not untypical of the sort of contact we regularly get from SEO companies trying to flog their crappy services to us.
They have a top secret tool, do they? I have a very good one myself, it's an interesting combination of View Source and Google, and it's far better than any top secret tool.
Interesting, that the email address they sent it from redirects to a different website, which also offers SEO and has no mention at all of any award they've won. Also after a quick Google, I couldn't easily find any award they had won either, so perhaps they might want to seek the services of another award winning SEO company to help them out?
I also found it interesting that they could suggest changes that would generate more business literally overnight, firstly because we aren't a retailer, so we don't sell anything, and anyone who really did spend 45 minutes on our site would have known that. And secondly, any significant change you make usually takes a week at the earliest before you see any changes to search engine traffic.
In fact, if you make a major change, like we have recently, search engines tend to heavily back off sending you traffic whilst they re-index and re-evaluate your content.
We have no control over backlinks, we've never paid some (crappy or otherwise) SEO company to create a load for us. That means it doesn't matter how potentially dangerous these so-called dangerous links might be, we have no control over them having not actually made any of them.
One day, I'll take up one of these SEO companies on their free complimentary report, they all seem to offer one, but I know they'll all have some stupid generic advice. It will probably have the same amount of spelling and typing errors as their emails.
Well bless you Justine, I'd hate to think all this SEO help you were going to give me would be automated, it's nice you'd be using your own hands to do it, and not somebody else's. Automated rubbish is truly often wrong, as you say.
A bit like the message you sent me.
The SEO Company Con'o'meter
There is of course another side to this coin, which sites like MyReviewer.com also get to see. One thing that SEO companies do to bolster your ranking with backlinks, apart from posting spam messages to message boards, which we also have to delete on a regular basis, is offering free content.
We'll write you something for free, they say, it'll be great and relevant to your users, they say. Here's recent emailer Dave to explain:
What a nice man, he just likes to run around writing for sites like mine, and specifically 500 words long posts at that.
Oh, a hyperlink, now we see where this is going. You want to write some crappy article and include a bunch of keywords with a backlink to a site you are flogging SEO to.
Of course when he says mutually beneficial, he means to whatever poor person he's convinced to pay for his SEO services, only for at some point Google and co, to notice they've been gaming the system and then penalise, no doubt long after he's got his money for his work.
Oh and they'll probably start downgrading our ranking in the process, but hay, Dave won't care about that either because he'll just carry on with offering his free content for other websites.
Sorry Dave, but I'm closing the pod bay doors. Because we aren't that stupid.
The Only Search Engine Optimisation Worth Doing
Write Good Content
I know it sounds silly, but really, have something people want to read. And just accept the fact that people might not be interested in it. Some of the best films ever made have been seen by a tiny proportion of the population, don't join the Internet revolution with a strange idea that you can be better than Amazon or out-do IGN.
That said, if you find a niche you enjoy, then search engines will help people who share your niche find you. There is probably no point in doing any SEO at all.
Structure Your Pages Properly with H1, H2 and P tags
Make the main title of a page a H1 tag, make subtitles H2, and make sure your content is in P tags. That makes it easy for search engines to find and index the important parts.
Put Your Title in Friendly URLs
All search engines like a friendly URL, so just put the title of your page in there somehow. Use dashes instead of underscores wherever there is a space. Have keywords in there by all means, but only if they are naturally part of the title.
Keep Page Content To Unique URLs
Make sure that any page has only one URL, the last thing you want is multiple URLs pointing to the same content. If you have to do that, then put in a canonical meta tag.
Add a Meta Description
Sometimes what the search engine shows as a short excerpt from the page isn't what you want it to, so just make sure the important key description of the page, usually the first few lines of the main body of text, appears in the meta description tag.
Encourage Social Bookmarks
It's often worth trying to get anyone who likes your page, to like it in Facebook, or share the URL via Twitter, or Reddit, or StumpleUpon, or Digg, or whatever. Make it easy for them to do this, because natural links shared this way are worth far more than one as a comment on some blog.