“How to Improve your Web Presence” series is made possible by Third Tribe Marketing.
They’re lurking in the dark corners of the web. They respond to inquiries you post on craigslist. They scour freelance boards. They’re everywhere, and if call out for help, they’ll come flying you faster than a group of vampires at the sight of a shaving accident.
They’re snake oil Seo’s.
But there’s hope! In the hoard of blood suckers, there will be someone who can help.
Problem is, your non-vampire savior stole his look from Edward Cullen, so knowing who’s shoulder to lean on might prove difficult.
As a follow up to last week’s discussion with Dorian Howard of Milk and Honey shoes about optimizing your website for google, I decided that I would tap into my network and ask what others their thoughts on “How to spot a Snake oil Seo”
The answers were all very insightful. I’ve taken some of the best answers to share with you here.
How to spot a snake oil SEO?
Eugene Aronsky There are 2 things that you can do to check up on the credibility of your SEO.
- Go to Alexa.com and check the rating of the SEO’s website, the the Alexa rank is over 2 million, they are selling you snake oil.
- Look up the Page Rank of the website of the SEO, if the PR is under 4, do not believe anything they say. (there are many tools to check Page Rank, just do a Google search for “check Page Rank”)
Another thing I’d recommend is to Google the name of the person giving you the proposal, if they do not come up #1 on their own name, do not trust them!
(99% of the time this is a good rule, but in some rare cases (like mine) the SEO will share the name with a celebrity… and it’s impossible to compete with celebrities)
Brandon Eley (from Third Tribe)
Before I learned online marketing myself, I started an e-commerce company and looked to outside companies for their expertise in marketing. It was a disaster.
The SEO company we hired practiced black-hat tactics, and all but got us blacklisted in google.
Here are a list of “red flags” that should give you a clue the SEO company either has no clue what they’re doing, or is going to do something that could hurt you more in the long run than help you.
- Guarantee 1st place or 1st page ranking
- Talks about keyword density or stuffing
- Really inexpensive service – SEO is a time consuming process. Under $1000 is too low.
- Guaranteed indexing in less than a week
- They say they’ll submit you to 10,000 search engines and directories. In all honesty, there are less than 10 that make up 99.999% of queries.
- They talk about your “meta keywords” a lot. They don’t help. Really, they don’t. You can delete them.
- They spammed you with an offer to improve your site.
Generally speaking, an honest person will tell you things, while a dishonest one will seem to be hiding and trying to manipulate you. The more open choices for you to make and the more you are encouraged to be comfortable with the service, the better.
Educate yourself. Great groups out there like SEOmoz have good SEO check lists. Print one out and ask your perspective SEO agency what their tactics are for each item and see if they can give you concise, well thought out responses.
Michael Kozlowicz By all means, feel free to walk away if the SEO:
- owns shadow domains
- puts links to their other clients on doorway pages
- offers to sell keywords in the address bar
- doesn’t distinguish between actual search results and ads that appear on search results pages
- guarantees ranking, but only on obscure, long keyword phrases you would get anyway
- operates with multiple aliases or falsified WHOIS info
- gets from “fake” search engines, spyware, or scumware
- has had domains removed from Google’s index or is not itself listed in Google
Linda M Lopeke (from Third Tribe!)
We do a couple of things: 1) run an SEO audit scorecard pre- and post optimization and 2) test the fairness of their pricing.
Here’s how we figure out what fair SEO pricing might be:
dollar value of a conversion x estimated number of incremental conversions derived from SEO efforts
If the product we’re testing has an average profit from a conversion (i.e. a sale, a lead generated, an email collected, etc.) of $100, then the dollar value of a conversion for our business is $100.
And if after performing an analysis of our market segment (identifying the various keyword variations relevant to our business model and then figuring out the volume of annual those keywords could generate for us if we achieved top positioning) we figure we can generate roughly 100 incremental conversions per year, then the maximum amount of money we’ll pay for SEO services would be $100 x 100 annual incremental conversions or $10,000 per year (~$833/month).
After a decent interval we run the scorecard again to check on performance metrics. If the SEO folks don’t hit the mark at the first checkpoint, we’ll give them more time to recover but if they haven’t hit it by the mid-point, we trigger our exit strategy clause in the contract. And if they exceed their target, we’ll extend their contract.
The take away
Get educated, use your intuition, and ask questions. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.