What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Anyway?
Both pay-per-click and SEO are targeted to get your website placed as close to the top of search engine results as possible. Marketing and SEO are different, yet very, very similar. Explain Search Engine Optimization is considered the main factor in enhancing the traffic of one’s website. The concepts of good SEO are hardly a secret. The people who least understand issues with URL structure and SEO are the very people who create them: web developers, programmers, and software developers.
Much long-time SEO’s are now looking at the big picture and working with usability analysts. Some SEO are scam artists. I find it interesting that so many newcomers are given the wrong impression that there is one almighty answer to doing well in search engines. SEO is specialized techniques used to optimize your website, be Search engine friendly and increase your chances of placing well in searches. But SEO can also be the most profitable method of driving leads because any leads you receive from SEO are free leads.
There are a large number of companies that adopt a fast and unethical approach to SEO known as Black Hat SEO. They employ unethical techniques that are against search engine policies. The best results from SEO are rarely achieved overnight. Black hat SEO is the technique used to fool search engines in order to bring in more traffic to websites. Website owners who unknowingly utilize black hat techniques of SEO are more vulnerable to changes in search engine algorithms and faced with being banned.
Most hardcover books on the subject of SEO are best viewed as a vehicle to help the beginner understand the process of search engine optimization. This is because the principles behind SEO are not easy. They are very informative and most webmasters are involved in SEO and using it. White hat and black hat SEO are two opposing views of how to do search engine optimization. In a nutshell, SEO is a method that aims to improve the position or rank of a website in the listings produced by search engines. The benefits of SEO are almost unlimited.
Watch out for SEO Tools and software that is outdated and totally useless. Always research before you buy any SEO software because the search engine Algorithms are constantly changing thereby improving their search technologies to provide the most relevant results for their users. SEO tools for Google, MSN, and Yahoo are numerous. SEO tools for press release optimization were also launched by PRWeb at the end of June called SEO Wizard. Search engine optimization is not easy, but with the right SEO tools, your website promotion task just got a lot easier. Blogs are one of the best SEO tools around and some like WordPress are free.
MSN has launched a suite of SEO tools to go with their Pay Per Click product Adcenter. There are many SEO tools available on the internet, some are better than others, and some are not. Header tags, proper Keyword density, proper text formatting fonts, start text key-phrase as whole phrases, alt image tag text, links pointing to your site and each page, and your domain name itself are some things to pay attention to. Many specialized SEO tools can help you determine the popularity and the competitiveness of your possible keywords and can help improve your search engine ranking, particularly in Google.
Writing fresh content for SEO plays a large role in keeping visitors on a website. Let’s talk about unique web page content and SEO content strategy. Finding a good SEO content writer is easier than you think. Just run a Google search or checkout elance.com. What is good SEO Content? It is unique, quality information that your visitors can use and is helpful to them. RSS feeds are an invaluable tool in the SEO content toolbox. If you scrape SEO content and end up scraping a couple of spam pages, you may get noticed even more because someone is investigating the other spam pages.
The primary factor that will determine whether your SEO content is “good enough” is the content provided by competing websites. You need unique content that nobody has in order for it to pass duplicate content filters. That’s why it is important to get your content articles indexed before you submit them to the search engines. I think nowadays though search engine algorithms can trace back the content and see who published it first, so at least make sure you publish it to your website or blog before submitting it to article directories.
To strengthen the theme of your website, you need keyword-rich SEO content. SEO content writing tips content writer’s main aim is to create a new written piece that is original, simple, informative, and also to the point. Write specifically targeted SEO content for the independent pages. Unique SEO content remains king. Showing your visitors you can really write unique, compelling content, your traffic will grow very fast. Earlier it was just content writing but now it is widely known as SEO content writing. However, there are some strict rules enforced on SEO content. Once you have visitors, your SEO content should be converting them into customers. With effective SEO content on your website, half of your search engine rank optimization work is done.
Ethical search engine optimization is a must or you will get banned. It’s not if, it’s when. Search engine optimization was and still is fascinating to me. Search Engine Optimization is a crucial part of a website’s success. The objective of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to achieve high natural search engine placement for relevant keywords or keyword phrases. Hiring an ethical search engine optimization company to rank well in the natural results is essential to long-term success.
Your white hat Search engine optimization (SEO) campaign will provide you with a long-term increase in targeted traffic and qualified visitors to your Web Site. Visit my site often and add it to your favorites as I update you with the latest news and rumors in the search engine optimization industry every day. The effects of bad search engine optimization are devastating and very depressing. Each website is unique in its own way and hence your (SEO) plans differ from website to website.
Too often, visual design and SEO are perceived as a mutual sacrifice. Pay-per-click and SEO are targeted to get your website placed as close to the top of search engine results as possible. Pay-per-click costs money, but the clicks from SEO cost you nothing. SEO is considered the main factor in enhancing the traffic of one’s website. Both, PPC and SEO are important. The truth is, the most rewarding part of SEO is often the slowest to reward. PR and SEO are based mostly on editorial credibility and relevance, not a direct payment for exposure.
SEO is specialized techniques used to optimize your website, be Search engine friendly and increase your chances of placing well in searches. There are a large number of companies that adopt a fast and unethical approach to SEO known as Black Hat SEO. The main components of on-page SEO are optimization of the title tag, the headline tag, the body text, and the Meta tags. Companies interested in SEO are occasionally not very happy with how their website looks. Programmers with an understanding of SEO are in high demand. As a matter of fact, sites with excellent Search Engine Optimization are making giant leaps in rankings and getting a major boost in free traffic with Google’s new update.
Great web usability and SEO are wasted if folks who visit your web can’t tell that you are worthy of their trust. Those who specialize in SEO are in the unique position of understanding the web in a way that no traditional marketing agency can hope to. White hat and black hat SEO are two opposing views of how to do search engine optimization so if you use one, choose with great care. The second most important aspect for high SEO is the headers. Use H1, H2, H3, H4 headers.
Many of the techniques that can be used for SEO are banned by various search engines. The benefits of SEO are almost unlimited. Bad techniques of SEO are a strict ‘NO’ – Like same color text as the background and Doorway pages can get your website banned. The five forces of SEO are relevant Keywords, unique Content, clean Code, relevant Links, and proper use of Technology. Designing for users and designing for SEO are not mutually exclusive goals. There will be a compromise. White hat SEO is techniques that follow precisely the rules and guidelines provided by search engines stand a better chance of receiving traffic and higher rankings than black hat techniques.
For this reason, it is important to try to stay updated as far as new SEO is concerned. The off-page elements of website promotion and SEO are just as important. The majority of issues with SEO are very basic and just take time to be picked up on search engines. Web design and SEO are two very different disciplines, but a certain degree of collaboration is required. It’s easy to see why effective SEO is now very much in demand. Black hat SEO is a technique used to trick or manipulate search engines for higher rankings.
If done properly, the results of your SEO efforts are very impressive. Those who practice what some refer to as “ethical” and “correct” SEO are called White Hat SEO. The most important for SEO is to follow the rules and you won’t have anything to worry about.
Search Engine Optimization SEO a Scam? The Truth About the Industry
I frequent many SEO and Web Marketing forums on a daily basis and every so often there is a debate about the SEO industry and ethics. After being involved in a number of these debates, it has become really obvious that the main problems are the fact that no two SEO companies are alike and there is no unified methodology. It’s very hard to make statements about the industry as a whole because it’s debatable what exactly ‘SEO’ is. Mix in the fact that most SEO companies keep their methodology and campaign strategies secret and we have a situation where every company is totally different with very different results.
Fact 1: There is no unified SEO methodology. SEO is actually defined by Wikipedia as a process of improving traffic from SERPs to a site. Of course, HOW they do that is the real question and causes the debates.
Fact 2: The effectiveness of an SEO campaign depends on the site structure, site content, keywords, methodology used, and how popular the site is. A site cannot just rank for any random keyword. SEO is also not voodoo. It is logic, problem-solving, and Web marketing mixed together. If your site provides no value to users, it probably won’t rank.
Fact 3: Some ‘SEOs’ do search engine optimization and some do search engine manipulation. Of course, it is all marketed as SEO. Unethical optimization provides results at any cost and is always short-term (usually ends in a banned domain name). Ethical optimization opens up the site to search engines and provides long-term benefits.
Fact 4: Most SEO companies get paid whether or not your site gets any rankings. Unfortunately, this is the case with the industry. Most SEO companies implement A, B, and C and move on to the next client. Hopefully, the site ranks. If it doesn’t, they always have more clients.
Fact 5: Most SEO companies use both ethical and unethical inbound linking strategies. To maximize profits, it is very common for SEO companies to buy bulk links from India, links on spam/scraper websites, or sell large directory submission packages. It is also common for SEO companies to place huge amounts of the contract into inbound linking to make up for the poor quality of the site optimization.
Combined with numerous Web postings and forum debates talking about the same basic problems, I’ve compiled a list of the most common issues.
Problem 1: Responsibility for Results
It’s no secret that the vast majority of SEO companies take no responsibility for results. It is a fact that no SEO company can guarantee results (and if they do, they are lying to you). It is also a fact that the client is taking a risk by spending money with an SEO company that basically says ‘We’ll do what we can’. SEO companies simply guarantee they’ll do the work to ‘optimize’ the site, but without full disclosure of their methodology, what exactly is the client paying for? No other industry sells a product with no guarantees and no specific list of work that will be completed. Of course, search engine optimization work is basically the sales of information and keeping the specifics of a methodology is important, but the combination of secrecy and no responsibility for results really makes SEO campaigns risky. So, how can an SEO company reduce the risk for the client and provide the best grade of service?
Answer 1: Incentive Based Pricing
The only real way to reduce the financial risk of the client is to share the risk. Through incentive-based pricing, the SEO company can charge a certain percentage of the total contract (say 70%) to cover their intellectual property and time while placing the rest of the contract price (remaining 30%) in incentives for success. Of course, incentives and their percentage of the contract would be totally relative depending on the campaign. This first step into sharing in the risk provides reassurance to the client that the company believes in its methodology and places some of the financial burdens of the campaign on the SEO company. At the moment, however, very few SEO companies are willing to share in the risk and charge the same price whether the client gets top rankings or no rankings at all (or possibly even lower rankings).
Problem 2: Unethical Optimization
Unfortunately, unethical (or blackhat) optimization is still very prominent on the Web. It’s also unfortunate that ‘SEO’ has been mistakenly confused with ‘Blackhat SEO’. This is still the biggest problem for SEO companies. Saying that all SEO companies deal in blackhat optimization is like saying everyone who emails is a spammer. Blackhat optimization is not optimization at all…it is search engine manipulation. Because there is so much money tied to top rankings, there will always be a market for unethical SEO and search engine spam. Until companies realize what is ethical and unethical and stop supporting those blackhat SEO companies, they will continue to thrive. This makes the industry as a whole look bad and does not reflect the ethics of good SEO companies. Blackhat provides fast, short-term results, but is never a good option in the long run.
Answer 2: Ethical Optimization
There is no quick and easy solution to blackhat optimization’s stain on the SEO industry. I would suggest that all marketing departments research optimization techniques and educate themselves on what techniques are unethical. No SEO company is going to say they do unethical optimization. It’s also not a good idea to immediately trust a company or product based simply on their rankings. Unethical optimization DOES provide rankings…just not for the long run.
It would also be helpful if the major search engines would be more open and accessible to SEO companies. Currently, the major search engines and SEO companies do not deal with each other and have formed a sort of love-hate relationship. Because of this, many ethical search engine optimizations have slowly moved into dark territory. Ethical optimization seeks to make sites more easily accessible to the engines and help to improve the engine’s search results. The problem is that the search engines mainly clump all SEO companies together in the same way as uninformed users do: search engine manipulation. This is just not the case. Search engines do not want to reveal what they consider unethical because it would basically be providing a list of holes in their algorithms that blackhat SEOs would be able to manipulate further, but a defined list of ‘what not to do’ would provide a definitive list for businesses looking for an SEO company.
Basic Rules of Ethical Optimization
Any campaign that does not abide by the following rules is dealing in unethical search engine optimization techniques and should be avoided.
- What the user sees and what the search engine sees should be exactly the same. Do not hide anything.
- Your keywords (and the resulting optimization) should exactly reflect the content of the page. Keywords should always reflect what your site is about.
- Do not build out pages exclusively for search engines. The site should always cater to both audiences (users and search engines). Catering to only users is why search engine optimization is necessary. Catering only to search engines is optimization gone too far into blackhat.
- Do not participate in manipulative inbound linking schemes like link farms, bulk links, triangle linking, or any other unethical manipulation of your Google PageRank or link authority. Inbound links should be relevant to the content of your site and you should always know who is linking to you and where your links come from.
Problem 3: Assembly Line / Software SEO
With the growth of the SEO industry has also come to the automation of SEO. The absolute first thing any prospective SEO client should know is that all effective SEO campaigns are custom. There is no checklist of items that will work exactly the same on every site. If the SEO company claims there is, then they are not doing full optimization and the campaign is minimal. A good optimization campaign optimizes the site architecture, text content, and code of the site. Assembly line SEO does not take into consideration the unique needs/design of the site and may even deal with blackhat optimization. Search engine optimization software especially should be looked at closely. There are really only two things SEO software could do that would work for any site: doorway pages (showing engines one thing and users a different thing; which is unethical) or a system of pages build exclusively for search engines (often called info or information pages and linked in an out of the way part of the page). Doorway pages are 100% unethical and info pages are deep in the gray area. Neither of those two methods addresses the architecture of the site, proper keyword analysis, or effective text content.
Answer 3: Custom Campaign and Assessment
‘SEO Software’ may be cheap and affordable, but you get what you pay for. Any campaign that is going to slap on additional pages are simply sold you links is NOT an effective SEO campaign. Any SEO effort that simply has you add a few ‘optimized’ pages to your site is not going to be optimal. If you wanted to convert a street car into a race car, you don’t simply add racing strips to it. Don’t think that dumping a few pages on your site targeted to some random keywords is the same as a real SEO campaign.
If your SEO company will not sit down and talk about the layout, architecture, and aim of your site, then it is not providing a top-end service. Remember that the vast majority of ‘SEO software’ either is for building doorway/landing pages or simply providing you with data about your site (data that is already free to everyone on the Web). Good SEO campaigns take into account both the user and the search engines…not one or the other. An SEO company should have a commanding understanding of user experience and search engine optimization and use these in combination to create a campaign that will provide the best ROI. The end goal should always lead/sales. Bringing in piles of non-targeted traffic often leads to extremely high turnover rates and very low lead conversion.
Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Industry: Current Status and Future Projections
Like any other industry in the world, the online SEO (search engine optimization) business has its players. This includes SEO local tools providers such as small digital agencies, SEO freelancers, and web designers among others.
Returns for search engine optimization Players
The major reason why people get into business is to profit and expand their economic status. In the field of SEO business, the rates of returns are promising. This is because recent research on SEO returns for a period of 12 months shows that at least all the players had something to take home. However, the returns are varying depending on a players’ hard work and skills in the field. For example, according to this research, 34% of the interviewed SEOs said they received an amount less than $ 30,000 while another group of respondents, 17% said they received returns that were above $ 500,000.
From the above statistics, it is evident that the size of an organization played a role in the determination of the number of returns received. It beats logic for one to expect a large organization to receive low amounts of returns and vice versa. In addition, the presence of part-time SEOs, as well as the entry of newbies into the market, could have led to the low rates of turnover due to low operation capacity. However, it is hard to predict the course the search engine optimization market is likely to take due to the lack of clear shift in SEO earnings since the year 2011. However, the demand for local SEO services seems to be growing day in day out and this is attracting more players thereby tightening the competition among SEO service providers.
The Emerging Issues with the Current SEO Returns
With the above distribution of returns, several questions emerge. This includes the following:
• From the statistics, a large percentage of SEOs receive a low-income something that suggests low pricing of SEO services.
• It is also possible that small and medium businesses do not understand the value of SEO services provided to them.
• The low SEO income earners, those who received less than $ 30,000 annual returns are also being doubted if they can provide quality services while earning that low.
• It is also unknown if most SEOs will still be in operation if their income remains static.
The Current SEOs Income Per Customer
Just like the annual SEO returns, SEO income per customer also varies. This is because there are those clients who would pay less than $300 a month while others will pay more than $5000 a month. This variation in income per client can be attributed to the type of services provided as well as the depth of services. The size of the business a client is seeking search engine optimization services for also plays a role in determining the amount to be charged. For example, small businesses are charged less simply because their requirements are much smaller as compared to large multi-location franchise businesses.
Research also shows that some SEO service providers operate on a high volume basis. Such SEOs provide simple search engine optimization services at very low monthly rates. As a result, such SEO service providers end up having a high customer churn with a large dedicated network of sales teams.
Similarly, some SEO service providers provide services that are more comprehensive in a much more professional manner customized according to the client thereby leading to a low number of clients.
Due to the above statistics, it therefore becomes essential for any SEO service provider in the current market to operate in a manner that matches his/her setup.
Handling Capacity of the Modern SEOs
Currently, SEOs are handling more clients as compared to the previous years. Statistics show that about 40% of the SEOs in the market handle at least 11 clients while 23% SEOs handle at least 21 clients. Such large numbers of clients to handle lead to more audits to be done, lots of tasks, research, reports, and even more calls from the clients to be attended to. The high numbers of clients also demand a high level of efficiency so that the clients can be assured of quality services.
Market Structure for Most SEOs
SEOs have been using several marketing techniques to promote their businesses. Offline marketing channels such as word of mouth have been cited by most SEOs as the most effective marketing technique. This can be attributed to the trust level, business reputation, as well as relationships, build during the offline campaigns.
Alongside offline marketing, SEOs also practice online marketing such as the use of LinkedIn and social media. However, most SEOs have cited LinkedIn as the best option as compared to the social networks because it is better placed for lead generation and networking.
Services Offered by SEOs
The majority of the search engine optimization players offer onsite optimization with 91% of the SEOs practicing this. Google+ optimization has also a good number of SEOs practicing it as 86% claimed to be offering this service to their clients. For affiliate marketing, only a small percentage (11%) of SEOs are offering this service to their clients.
Other services offered by SEOs:
• Content creation/optimization
• Link building
• Citation building
• Social media marketing
• Website development
• Mobile site development
• Video marketing and mobile marketing.
The most demanded service by SEO clients is onsite marketing, while the least demanded service is affiliate marketing. The other services are somehow averagely demanded. However, most small and medium businesses do not understand the opportunities that video and mobile marketing can unlock and therefore tend not to use these services. SEOs, therefore, need to educate their clients on these marketing channels so that they can go for them.
When asked about the online SEO services SEOs feel are effective, 82% of them said that the General search is the most effective for generating leads. Local search appears to be the second-best after 62% of the respondents in an SEO survey voted in its favor. PPC is the 3rd with 53% while social media is the 4th with 26%. Daily deals appear to be appealing to most SEOs because only 1% voted in favor of it.
Tedious SEO Tasks
55% of the current SEOs in the market find link building to be the most tedious and time-consuming work. Others, though 15% only believe that content writing is the most tedious and time consuming task among all the tasks they do. It therefore emerges that to the 55% who find link building tedious, this task is also boring to them.
This is an outline of what we expect in the near future as far as SEO business is a concerned.
Expansion of SEO Businesses
Compared to the previous years, search engine optimization businesses have been growing and expanding steadily. Most SEOs (about 93%) are not only optimistic about expanding their businesses but are also expecting to grow their business. In what seems to be a determined move to grow their businesses, most SEOs (82%) are willing to recruit more staff members so as to realize their desired levels of growth.
Social media is also expected to grow and be more effective even than the local directories. This is because most SEOs believe that social media can perform better because of recommendations from friends. Mobile usage is also expected to grow further and become relevant for local businesses.
Upsurge of Confidence in SEO Business
Unlike other businesses, the SEO business is showing a positive growth of confidence among the players. Despite this being a dynamic and innovative industry, most SEOs are still willing to recruit more staff to help drive their businesses ahead. 84% of the sampled SEOs in the SEO research are also optimistic that the search engine optimization business has gone to be more profitable starting from the year 2013.
Confidence is also running high that if the SEO players increase the understanding of SEO/social among the business owners they serve in the future, they will not only increase the business owners’ rate of investment but also make them transfer their marketing budgets from other channels to the digital channels.
SEO – Choosing the Right SEO Provider to Bring Your Web Site to the Top of Google
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the art (and science) of bringing a website to the top of Google and other major search engines for specific keywords that you want to target.
Since being on the first page and in the #1 position for your keywords always means more traffic to your website, it is easy to see why there is such a high demand for effective SEO services today.
So, what does it take for your website to rise to the top of Google? A lot of that is dependent upon the specific industry your business is in. For example, it would be fairly easy to rank #1 in Google if you had a unique service or product that nobody else had in Branson. But if you are wanting to rank well for a keyword like “Branson tickets”, it would be much more complicated, due to the sheer number of other websites that are also trying to compete for that keyword.
Just like any other “battle”, the more contestants you have playing, the tougher the competition is going to be. And SEO is definitely a battle – make no mistake about it. The modern-day SEO arena is home to some of the most ferocious Internet and Web-based marketing tactics known to man.
The reason for this highly competitive force is the nature of Internet marketing’s failure itself. Most businesses have embraced the Internet and the World Wide Web as their primary channel for marketing, advertising, and information distribution channels. More and more businesses are trying to gain popularity and showcase what they have to offer to the entire world – not just the locals.
And it makes sense. The more people you can reach on the Web, the more customers and clients your business will attract altogether.
But still, there are a large number of websites that only use minimal search engine optimization tactics. And it’s almost shocking when you analyze a website and clearly see that even textbook SEO elements have been neglected or omitted entirely. These are the same websites for the businesses that are struggling to make ends meet, especially in the economic turmoil we are facing at the moment.
And what about the websites for those businesses that are actually being prolific, in spite of the economy? Those websites are the ones that have implemented professional SEO services to gain a better position in the search engines. And they are thriving!
It’s a well-known fact that if your website is not listed on the first page of Google, you are missing out on about 70% of all traffic on the Web today. That’s a pretty big number. But it’s very true. If your business is going to be successful on the Web, then you need to invest in an SEO campaign that can bring you all the way to the top.
And when you consider the cost of traditional advertising methods vs. SEO / SEM, you can clearly see that not only is SEO more affordable, it’s also more effective. By investing in quality search engine optimization, you’ll see a much larger return on investment than you would with radio, TV, or yellow page advertisements. Plus, all of the traditional advertising methods restrict you to the local or regional market.
An effective SEO campaign will allow you to reach people from all over the world. Now that’s powerful! You really need to have your website optimized for the search engines by a qualified SEO professional who can deliver the search engine optimization services you need to stay ahead of the competition.
Here are a few tips to consider while you are seeking the right SEO professional to help your web site get a better rank in Google:
- Find an SEO professional who is familiar with the market you are in. By understanding the competitive nature of your specific industry, your SEO professional will be better equipped to provide you with effective SEO services.
- Ask to see examples of previous SEO campaigns that were a success. It is best if they have previously successful SEO campaigns that were for your particular market/websites related to yours specifically. That way, you’ll know they fully understand how to compete with the other sites in your arena.
- Find out how long it will take before you begin to see some results and improved search engine rankings for your website. All quality SEO work takes time. It can be weeks or even months before you start to see your website climbing up in the search engine results. It’s better to have an accurate time estimate before you start so that there are not any surprises later on down the road.
- Ask the SEO professional what exactly will take place during the SEO campaign. Oftentimes, many search engine optimization “experts” will be cryptic and try to avoid this question. And often, it is indicative of an inexperienced “want to be”. Any good SEO professional worth his salt will be able to tell you exactly what will occur during your SEO process.
- Avoid any SEO professional who claims to give you “x” amount of links for “x” amount of dollars. For example, if he tells you something like “I can give you 500 links for $500…”, then it is probably not going to be very effective SEO. All true SEO experts know that it’s the quality, not the number of links that matters the most.
- Ask to be kept up-to-date during your entire SEO campaign. That way, you’ll be able to keep up on what is really going on, what work is being performed, how many hours are being invested, etc.
- Find out ( before the SEO campaign begins ) what it is going to take to maintain the higher search engine position after you have reached it. All good SEO experts know that getting to the top of Google is only half the battle. Once you are there, it will require some attention and a little ongoing work to ensure that your Branson website stays up there.
- Make it very clear at the beginning that you do not want any “black hat” SEO techniques used during the process of your SEO campaign. Black hat SEO is the practice of implementing questionable SEO practices in the eyes of Google and it will certainly get your website banned from the Google index!
Remember: always ask questions and stay informed. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll have better chances of finding the right SEO professional to provide you with a very successful and effective SEO campaign.
How Much to Pay for SEO Services?
The question comes up often. Many people have been burned by SEO Services, but many have also been rewarded by SEO Services. Like any business transaction or purchase, you should only spend your money when you feel comfortable. Your comfort zone should pull from various dependencies, such as how well do you know this business, how long have you been doing business with this person or entity, what is your first impression, how do you personally feel about this person or entity able to provide this service, and how well have you done your homework.
The truth about SEO services is that it is normally not hard work, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It still takes time, dedication, effort, strategy, technique, method, skill, and experience to perform quality SEO services. Anyone can use search engine optimization services because it is within your reach to learn, but not everyone can apply sensible strategies to make SEO work. That is why SEO engineers are needed to accomplish the almost impossible, but the question is how do you know you are making the right choice and not overpaying for SEO services?
I can honestly say for the most part SEO service providers are on the up and up who want nothing more than to do professional business and provide quality SEO services. Identifying every shady SEO service may not be possible, but I have some recommended advice that should help anyone get a fair and quality rate for SEO services.
- Set yourself a “realistic” marketing budget and goal
- Shop around
- Don’t buy until you feel comfortable
- Remember “cheap does not always mean better”
- Ask for references / referrals / portfolio
- Verify references / referrals / portfolio
- Ask for statistical growth and progress reports.
Set Yourself a Realistic Marketing Budget and Goal
This simply means do not kid yourself and think you can pay $200 and overnight you will make thousands. Instead, create a budget depending on your marketing needs, competitive industry, projected outcome, and length of time. If you are looking for your website to rank in the Top 10 search engine result page for a particular keyword or keywords then expect to pay in the thousands, often times tens of thousands, for quality, professional, and reliable search engine optimization services, almost always depending on the competitiveness of the keyword. If you want to rank in the top 10 for the keyword “Google”, this in most cases impossible, but I am sure there are some SEO companies who will accept the challenge but will charge in the thousands if not millions to attempt this insane marketing goal.
Find the most appealing SEO services and compare those to other competitive SEO services. Don’t settle for “cheap” or “inexpensive”, but settle for “effective” and “strategy”. Anyone can do search engine optimization work, but not everyone can improve results using SEO services. This is because search engine optimization is about technique and strategy. It’s not about just throwing thousands of links around the web and sitting back waiting for the explosion. It’s actually a lot more complicated than that, as it is about having strategy, technique, and competitive edge. You must find SEO services that live by this principle and can offer you the strategic road map you need for success.
Don’t Buy Until You Feel Comfortable
You should always feel comfortable with entrusting your money into an SEO service provider’s paws. If you have special needs such as you want to sign a contract, you want a specific pay schedule, or you have any questions, make sure you get answers and are comfortable with the projected outcome then move forward. I personally suggest getting a contract that outlines the projected outcome and any other bullet points, then also exploring the consequences or possibilities if the projected outcome is not met.
Remember “Cheap Does Not Always Mean Better”
This is a buyer beware notice. When someone offers $20 SEO services or even $200 SEO services, I would say “buyer beware”. There may be a handful of highly skilled SEO providers who can offer you SEO services at a discount or for extremely low rates, but most of the time these providers either do not know their service worth or know exactly what they are doing, but may have had a lucky streak. You will have to pay top dollar or aggressively, yet still affordable for quality, strategic, and experienced SEO services. SEO engineers are what I like to call them. These are SEO’s who understand the SEO concept, who pioneer SEO methods, and who don’t always follow the trend but know the trends.
Most of the SEO engineers are not going to be cheap, but well worth every dollar spent. If you take into consideration other marketing and advertising platforms, such as television broadcast advertising, print advertising, large tradeshow/fair booth advertising, etc. internet marketing and search engine optimization cost peanuts compared to these other advertising methods and have a farther audience reach. SEO services can easily cost between $5,000-$25,000, it can even be much more than this, depending on your needs, but this is far more inexpensive and cheaper than other advertising platforms. So, next time you think that SEO services cost too much, think about the other methods of advertising and their rates, along with return on investment (ROI). SEO services come out on top every time when compared against these other advertising platforms.
Ask for References / Referrals / Portfolio
Any SEO service provider should be able to point you to their qualifying work. SEO service providers should be able to present you with affectionate websites on which they have performed SEO work on. This can even be the SEO service provider’s personal website, they should be able to point you to their rankings in the search engine as well as some result driven SEO work within the site or across the web.
Verify References / Referrals / Portfolio
Verifying information is not always easy or accomplishable. You should attempt to reach out and verify what you can. If a shady SEO business was going to scam, then I am sure this is where they would start, with testimonials. I suggest verifying what you can but don’t get overwhelmed with referrals because it may be the shady SEO business giving self-praise. I actually have some good verification tips, but that’s another article all within itself.
Ask for Statistical Growth & Progress Reports
The SEO service campaign should include periodic progress/performance reports so you can track your website progress. Tracking your website progress is important in many ways. First, it tells if the SEO engineer is doing their job. Second, it tells you if the SEO methods, strategy, and technique is working or not. Third, it tells you how well the search engines are reciprocating your SEO efforts. And lastly, it tells you how much progress is being made and at what rate. All of this advanced reporting information and trend tracking can give you an overview of your website potential while giving you the opportunity to design or redesign your landing pages to increase your return on investment (ROI).
Top 39 SEO Myths Everyone Should Know About
Myth #1: Only the first rank matters
Many ebooks and other resources that business owners use will place an important emphasis on the need to be at the top of search results, whether that be on Google Search, other engines, or even in places like social media. But surveys have shown that people quite often will look at other results and they will scroll down through the page. Being on top of a second page, for example, can be quite beneficial for traffic. Also, search ranking is only one part of the puzzle. Now Google places other results on the page like social recommendations and local results as well, which means there are many more avenues open to you, and being in the first place is no longer as crucial as it once was.
Myth #2: You can do SEO with no outside help
Doing SEO simply means that you follow a set of techniques and procedures to increase the chance that web users will go to your site. It is true that anybody can learn these techniques, and if you are a website owner and you want to do your own search engine optimization then you can spend the time to learn and apply those techniques. But SEO can be complex and touches many areas such as online marketing, coding, technical aspects along PR skills. Most business owners simply do not have everything required to do a great job at SEO, and that is why so many agencies exist that offer help. A simple IT worker or online marker is often not enough if you want truly good results.
Myth #3: META tags are very important
It used to be that every page on your site needed META tags in order to rank well. Those are small pieces of code that would give Google a list of keywords and a description. The search engine would base itself on those to find out what your website was about. Now, however, those do not affect your ranking at all. Both Google and Bing stopped caring about META tags in order to index sites. However, they are not useless. For example, your description tag will be the text that often appears next to the link that shows up on the search result, so it’s still a useful piece of the action.
Myth #4: Keyword-rich domain names are ranked higher
Back in the dotcom days, it used to be that the URL you used was very important. Google placed a lot of importance on the domain name, and if you could get a name that had your keyword in it, you would gain a big advantage over other sites. This is why a lot of companies in the late 90s bought domain names for a lot of money. But now, the indexing process only looks at the actual content of your pages, and not the domain name. That name is still important because people still get to see it, but it will not make you rank higher.
Myth #5: You have to submit your site to Google or other search engines
All search engines used to have URL submission forms where you could send your site to Google and others. In fact, they still do, but that process is unnecessary. The crawlers that these engines use now are sophisticated enough that any new site will be found in a matter of days, if not hours. The only time you would have to worry about submitting your site is if for some reason it was not indexed automatically after a couple of days.
Myth #6: Submitting a sitemap will boost your rankings
Google offers a webmaster’s interface and from there, you can submit a sitemap, which is an XML file containing links to every page on your site. Some site owners take the time to submit such a file every time they make a change, but that is not necessary. Submitting a sitemap does not change your rankings, all it does is add pages that may not have been indexed already. If your site is typical and has links to all of the pages, then it will not be needed.
Myth #7: SEO has nothing to do with social media
Before the advent of Facebook and Twitter, SEO was the one and only technique to get traffic from an organic way. But now, social media is everywhere, and the line is quickly blurring between the two. While some marketers still consider search engine optimization and social media to be different beasts, the truth is that they are very closely linked. For example, Google now places its own social network, Google Plus, into its search results. If you can get enough influential people to talk about your product and link to your site, then their recommendations will show up in any Google search result that their friends do. This clearly affects SEO. On the reverse side, Facebook has started going after search as well, by recently introducing their Open Graph engine, which searches based on friends and interests. So the two domains are closely linked, and they are becoming closer all the time.
Myth #8: Google does not read CSS files
Myth #9: You need to update your home page all the time
Some people think that by updating their home page content all the time they will rank higher, or by not updating it their ranking will drop. In most cases that is not the case, because if you have a sales page that offers a product, then there would be no reason to update that page unless something about the product changes, and Google expects that.
Myth #10: The H1 header has greater value than the rest of your text
The structure of your page is seen by Google and other engines, but you have to realize that many sites are structured very differently. As such, no one specific tag has more value than another. An H1 tag is simply a header that corresponds to a CSS entry in order for the user to see your page a certain way. It does not make Google rank your page any differently if you use H2 tags instead, or if your keywords are mostly in the text and not in a specific CSS tag.
Myth #11: Linking to other highly ranked sites helps your ranking
Some sites try to link to many other high authority sites in order to help their rankings, but that does not help at all. Google uses PageRank to decide how your site will rank, and that algorithm is based on how useful your site is to others, and as such it will only look at how many other people link to you. Whether you link back to them is of no importance. Otherwise, any site could rise to the top simply by linking to millions of sites, which is not the case.
Myth #12: Using automated SEO methods is always spam
Many people use automated SEO methods that do not fall into the spam area. Many companies have very big sites and they use automated scripts to do a lot of the grunt work of search engine optimization. Whether or not a method is spammy is based on what the result is, not on how automated it is.
Myth #13: PageRank is the only factor that matters
The algorithm that Google uses to rank sites is PageRank, which determines how useful a site is to others. But the result also takes indications from hundreds of other inputs as well, according to what Google says. Some of these inputs are easy to see, like having your site being recommended by others on Google Plus. This proves that not only PageRank matters. The company is staying tight-lipped on how many inputs there are, and how important each gets weighed, but it is clear that there is more going on than just PageRank. With that said, however, it is still widely believed that PageRank is the most important factor, and a PR1 page is always better than a PR3 one.
Myth #14: The title tag is hidden from search engines
Most of what Google sees on your site is the text that is visible to users, such as what appears on the screen and is rendered in a web browser. As such, it would be easy to think that the title is not picked up. However, your title is very important for search engine optimization, because that is the text that appears on the link people will click on. Not only is Google using it to help your ranking, but people will see it as well when they go to click on your site.
Myth #15: Usability does not affect SEO
The whole point of SEO is to gain traffic and get people to stay on your site so they can be entertained or buy your products and services. As such, SEO very much goes hand in hand with usability, because this is what will make a difference in whether or not someone stays on your site for long. If your site is hard to use or navigate, it is very easy for people to go to the next search result. Also, the search engines themselves will look at layout and usability. If your site is hard to navigate for your viewers, it will be hard for the crawler as well, and having bad usability can definitely affect your rankings.
Myth #16: The.edu and.gov backlinks are the best
It is true that most.edu and.gov sites are well ranked and have high authority because those are typically official sites that are well maintained and contain no spam. However, this is just a byproduct of how they are maintaining, it is no guarantee. The simple fact that they have a domain that ends with.gov or.edu does not help your ranking at all. If you have a backlink on one of these sites, it will only be as good as how much authority that site has. You gain nothing by the fact that it is an educational or government site. Posting a backlink on an obscure.edu site will not help you any more than posting it on an obscure blog.
Myth #17: SEO is based on the quantity of links a site has
Believing that the success of an SEO campaign is to have the most possible backlinks is misunderstanding how ranking works. Any ranking algorithm, whether it is Google, Bing, Facebook, etc will rank sites based on many different factors. To do successful SEO, you have to address all of these factors, and having a lot of links is just one small piece of the puzzle. Also, each link has its own quality value. Often, a single link from a popular news site talking about your product will be much more valuable than spamming hundreds of links to unknown blog sites.
Myth #18: Backlinks are more important than content
SEO usually costs time and money, and as such, it is unrealistic to think you can do everything possible in every facet of online marketing. So often you have to make choices, and some may be tempted to focus on link building instead of content. However, the goal of SEO is to bring good traffic to your site. Quality is very important, not only quantity. Not having good content means your site has no value to anyone, and as such it will quickly lose any benefit that the extra links gave you. In fact, the most useful backlinks are usually not those you have direct access to. They are reviews from celebrities in your niche, news sites, and anyone who already is an authority talking about your product. By having good content, those links can actually come by themselves, simply through PR or word of mouth. But a bunch of backlinks on low authority blogs will not help you much at all, and the ranking you may get from them will not last long as those sites clean up those links. Instead, focus on your audience and try to know who you are writing for. By producing good content you are helping your site more over the long run.
Myth #19: Paid links will get you banned from Google
There are many ways to get links, and some of them include some type of payment. But not all paid links are always bad, it depends on how that payment occurs. For example, many sites, including Google, offer advertising services. You can buy an ad on Adword, you could go to another ad network, and many sites offer their own ad services. While some of them will not give you any ranking, others might, and those are completely legitimate. Paying a site that focuses on your niche to have a link in a strategic location will likely not get you banned, however, you have to remember that there are methods that will. Buying low-quality links in bulk are one of the best ways to get your site removed from the index.
Myth #20: Good content is all you need
Just like building an army of links will not help you keep the traffic for very long, having good content and nothing else is also not enough. Most people agree that good content is the cornerstone of having a successful site. By having engaging, useful posts for your visitors, you can ensure that they will want to visit your site and stay there for a long time. However, simply building it does not make it known. Even a very good site has to do some search engine optimization in order to bring traffic. Branding is incredibly important for any site, and getting your brand out there through SEO is the only way you will get those eyes onto that content. Your articles and posts have to be paired with good incoming signals, and that includes doing a lot of the typical SEO methods which can get you ranked in search engines so that people can find your content.
Myth #21: Google actively penalizes certain sites
Myth #22: Google AdWords will give you preferential treatment
AdWords is a very useful program by Google where you can place an ad on other sites to advertise your own. It should be part of any online marketing campaign. However, AdWords by itself does not help boost your rankings. Some think that because a company pays Google, then they will give them preferential treatment in organic search, but that is not the case. On any typical search page, you can easily see that organic results are separated from paid advertisements. A PPC ad campaign will give you a ranking in the sense that it will allow you to be seen on the ads side of the page, but it does not affect your ranking on the organic side in any way.
Myth #23: SEO is something done once only
A lot of sites do this mistake. When the site is new and it has just been created, the owners will invest in doing some SEO, and then think that everything is done. But just like marketing in the real world, SEO is not something you can do once and then forget. Instead, it is a continual process that has to be done over a long period of time, often the entire life of the site. This is because the web is not a written encyclopedia, it is a medium that changes constantly. New competitors appear search engines change their algorithms, new opportunities for marketing appear, and links that used to be good can become stale and not that important anymore. By constantly keeping an eye on your SEO efforts you ensure that your ranking does not drop, and you can keep focusing on new techniques that may prove to work better.
Myth #24: SEO companies can get guaranteed results
This is a very common yet completely bogus claim which some marketing firms like to use. They claim that by using their methods, your results will be guaranteed. But the truth is that no one can claim a certain method is foolproof for the same reason that SEO is not something you do once then forget. Everything changes online and you never know when something that used to work well will stop working. Some tactics are clearly better than others, but none is guaranteed. Also, if there was a magical way to get a high ranking, you can be sure that it would leak out at some point, and then everyone would be using that same tactic, making it worthless.
Myth #25: Placing too many links per page can penalize you
Some people have been told that a certain amount of links on a page can be bad for your rankings. For example, placing more than a hundred links on your landing page will be bad for Google and you will get penalized in some way. While it is true that spamming links on a page is something you should not do, and the Google bot has ways to detect when a page is a link bait one, you should not be afraid to create pages with lots of links. As long as they are relevant and part of the normal navigation of your site, then there will be no penalty. The worse that could happen in these cases is that Google may decide to ignore links part a hundred, but that’s all.
Myth #26: Internal links don’t matter for SEO
Many people think of linking only as far as backlinks go, and only focus on having other sites link to their own pages. But internal linking is also important, just like your site layout is important, because the search crawlers try to act as much like a normal web viewer as they can. If your site has bad internal navigation, Google will be able to detect that, and this could penalize you. Take the time needed to create good internal links and an easy to use navigation system for your site. This is something that is easy to do and you should not skip this step.
Myth #27: Facebook likes or tweets are the number one factor in SEO
Social media has taken a central role in how people find information on the web today, and the signals sent by these sites are fed into search engines in real-time. No modern business should ignore social media, simply because of the amount of time people spend on Facebook or Twitter. However, no one social site is the holy grail of SEO. Even if getting Facebook likes can be important, is not anymore so than the many other techniques that can be used. Also, there are arguments that point to the fact that while many people spend a lot of time on social networking sites, they do so to talk to friends, not to buy products, so the benefit of alike is still not as understood as the benefit of ranking well on Google. You should not ignore the traditional SEO and focus solely on social media.
Myth #28: Keywords are no longer relevant
Sites used to be created with a paragraph at the bottom filled with keywords in order to attract more traffic using something called keyword stuffing. In recent years, knowledgeable marketers have realized that this is no longer needed, in fact, it is a practice that is heavily discouraged by search engines. However, this does not mean that keywords are not still very important. While you should not do keyword stuffing on a page, getting a good percentage of your keywords in your actual text is still crucial. When someone looks for a specific term on Google, the amount of time this keyword comes up on your page is still heavily weighed in.
Myth #29: Using bigger headers will improve your ranking
Header tags such as H1 or H2 do matter because search engines look at the layout of your site, so you need to have headers that make sense and that contain your keywords so that the search engine knows what the content is about. However, the size or style of these headers, such as which CSS arguments you use, do not matter since Google and other search engines are interested in the content and usability, not the artistic style.
Myth #30: Keywords have to be exact matches
It’s true that words have to match what people type into a search engine, however, there are arguments for using words other than your selected keywords. For example, most words have a lot of synonyms, and people type in those synonyms all the time. By using a larger selection of keywords, you can be sure to catch those searches as well. Also, while keywords will bring your site up in the results, whether or not someone will click on your link depends on what the title of that link says. By having a clever title, something that people would want to click on, you gain more than by simply repeating a list of keywords.
Myth #31: PageRank does not matter anymore
When Google first started to be the top search engine and everyone focused on ranking well, PageRank became the number one criteria every marketer would go after. It used to be, and may still be, the input metric that affects a ranking the most, but the company has been clear many times that sites are ranked on hundreds of different metrics, not just PageRank. As a result, some have stopped caring so much about the PR ranking. However, that is not to say PageRank has no relevance at all anymore. While it is true you should focus on other things, you need to keep an eye on your PageRank as well.
Myth #32: Google Analytics can spy on people
Google Analytics is the most popular analytics software used by sites around the web, and as a result, some people think that they are being spied on. But the company has said many times that no personal data is being transmitted using Google Analytics. Indeed, if you actually use this service on your own site, you can see that the data you have access to are all anonymized, and you only see numbers, not individuals.
Myth #33: You should finish your site before starting to worry about SEO
SEO can be thought of as a form of marketing, and most marketing efforts are made after a site is completed, but there are steps that you should take before. For example, you should make sure you have a good layout, good navigation, META tags, titles, and so on. All of these are part of SEO and should be done while you are building the site. Also remember that search engines can find your site as soon as it is life, so you want your SEO to be ready whenever Google first crawls it.
Myth #34: Buying links, likes or tweets will help your site rank better
There are a lot of sites selling Facebook likes, followers, and so on. Often, those services seem quite cheap, such as 10,000 likes for $10. However, in most cases, these are not worth the money. First, they are usually fake accounts, bots that simply mass follow for a price. They are not real people, which means no one will see those social signals, and as a result, they will not increase your ranking. Worse, many sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google forbid these types of acts, and if you get discovered, you could be delisted.
Myth #35: Paid links always come from shady sites
In the case of bulk services, it is true that a lot of those paid links will come from shady sources, including bots or proxies. However, many reputable sites sell links as well, in the form of advertising or even preferential treatment. In those cases, you may have very legitimate links on high authority sites, and those can help your site rank better on search engines.
Myth #36: Google won’t find bad or spammy links
Some of the people who buy bulk links or who use automated methods to spam blog posts think that Google will not find them and that they will gain from their unethical practices. In many cases, that may actually be true, since Google and other search engines are not part of the secret police. But while individual bad links may not be discovered, the bigger risk is that the sites on which your links have been placed will be found and removed from the index, or that the actual algorithm will be modified to make those backlinks irrelevant. When that happens you may find a drastic change in your ranking.
Myth #37: You should not place too many outbound links
Some people think that they should only link to a small number of outbound sites. There is only one case where linking to other sites can hurt you, and that is if you become part of a backlinks network for the sole purpose of raising your ranking. In that case, when one site is discovered, all of them may be hit. But in any other case, Google and other search engines do not care at all how many outbound links you have, and there is no limit to how often you can link to other sites.
Myth #38: With good SEO you do not need PPC marketing
Some sites will spend a lot of time doing SEO and get great organic results, but even then PPC campaigns can be useful. Surveys should that it often is not the same people who click on ads versus those who click on organic links, so it can be worthwhile to do both if you have the money for it. Also, PPC links are guaranteed to cost you only when someone clicks, and do not suffer from changes in algorithms like the Panda update.
Myth #39: You can manipulate search rankings
This is a myth many marketing sites attempt to promote, the fact that they can somehow manipulate search rankings in a way that is outside traditional SEO. The whole point of SEO is to try and rank your site better. If there was another method that actually worked, then by definition it would be part of SEO. The truth is that there is no magical way to manipulate search rankings, and usually when someone says that they can, what they mean is that they will use unethical ways to speed up your ranking. But using spam and other spammy strategies means your site is put at risk. You may have a boost now but pay for it later on.
Conclusion: Explain Search Engine Optimization
Do your research. Find out what you want from an optimization campaign and then ask the right questions. Make sure that the sales representative you talk to knows what they are selling. If they do not, they are definitely not the person to get information from. A lot of SEO companies use hard sale tactics and the reps are less than knowledgeable about what they are selling. Ask the following questions and see what they have to say.
1.) How do you assess keywords? If a search engine optimization company simply optimizes for whatever keywords are sent to them by the client, the SEO campaign starts off on the very shaky ground. Keyword analysis should be performed that takes into account the number of searches in all the major search engines and the relative competition for those terms. The site should also be compared to the keywords to see if they support each other.
2.) Do you plan on building out pages specifically to house keywords? Landing pages and doorway pages are not effective long-term SEO options. SEO companies like them because they do not have to touch the rest of the site and it’s very easy to simply add band-aids instead of performing surgery.
3.) Will my SEO campaign also help improve the user experience of the site? Proper architecture and usability go hand in hand with search engine optimization and help increase ROI. You should want to bring in new traffic and convert it.
4.) Does my revenue model affect my keyword selection and the optimization as a whole? Any SEO company that does not optimize based on the target audience is NOT providing the most effective campaign. An ecommerce site marketing to comparative shoppers will want to optimize heavily for product names and model numbers. An online magazine wanting to bring in recurring traffic will want to optimize for article topics and specific themes. Local companies will want to optimize for geo-targeted keywords.
5.) I want to optimize my site, but do not want to change any of the existing content or layout…how would you go about this? Any SEO company that says they will simply add on landing pages or hide text is selling blackhat. This goes back to the earlier analogy. You are really saying that you have a car that you want to modify to be very fast, but do not want to modify the engine and the mechanic simply adds racking stripes and charges you full price.
Okay, to wrap it up, just be sure you stay out of shabby internet neighborhoods and when making any online transaction, do your homework first. Also, remember “cheap does not equal better”. Think about it, would you rather pay in the thousands to one SEO company for quality SEO work, which will produce results and increase your website overall performance or would you rather pay cheap $200 to much different SEO’s who don’t ever really give you the results you deserve. If an SEO engineer can increase your website sales and exposure by 80% without your site ever reaching the top 10 search results then you still got a good deal. This is the effect of skilled and experienced SEO services. The only difference between your website and the websites in the top 10, is those websites have SEO engineers working for them who understand search engine optimization.