July 5, 2016
SEO – that mysterious “land” few business owners want to go to. And there actually is some mystery around it – terms like algorithms, SEM, linkbait, nofollow, metatags, SERP. It’s a bit like a foreign language to a “lay” person. Small- to mid-sized business owners, who cannot hire the staff to become SEO experts, usually decide to contract out for SEO services. They at least know that SEO relates to how they will rank on search pages, and they know that rank is somewhat imprortant. How they get there, however, is not in their repertoire of skills.
Good Guys and Bad Guys
Think about car repair shops or HVAC repairmen for a minute. They understand that the average person does not know much about engines, air conditioners or furnaces. And it’s easy to take advantage of them. The same is true in the SEO niche. Unscrupulous so-called experts or gurus can develop expensive SEO plans and projects, and it is difficult to know if they are being ethical and honest. There are some clues, however, and they are based in the lies that the “bad guys” will tell you.
Top 7 Lies So-Called SEO Gurus Tell
1. We Can Get This Done Within a Month
No, they can’t. SEO is an on-going process that constantly changes as search engines modify their algorithms. Anyone who promises to get you on page one and that you will automatically stay there is being dishonest. SEO efforts require continued monitoring and adjustment – anyone who tells you differently is either lying or is not the expert s/he claims to be.
2. We Don’t Need Intimate Understanding of Your Niche
Really? If an SEO “expert” does not understand the products or services you offer, your competition, your target customers and their needs and wants, how can s/he promote you properly? The short answer is, it cannot be done. And you will spend a lot of time (on the clock) explaining your niche. The best approach is to use an SEO group with experience in your niche – the results will be far better.
3. You Should Post Your Most Important and Best Content on Your Website
Wrong. While your website must be appealing, engaging, and focus on the value and benefit you provide, bringing people to your website is a matter of having appealing content elsewhere with links to your website. Search engines are looking for this specifically. How much traffic is coming to your site from high-quality, related places? Getting your content out there is critical to SEO and that is far more than content on your website.
4. You Can’t Do This By Yourself
Actually, you can – if you want to do some self-study that will take a bit of time. You will not become an expert right away, but there are plenty of Internet resources that will give you the information and training you need. It’s really a matter of your time constraints. Remember, there is no degree in SEO – people learn it on their own.
5. SEO is the Only Thing You Should Focus On
Wrong again. Remember – SEO agencies are in the business of selling you their services and they will often inflate the importance of SEO. In fact, SEO is only one part of an overall marketing strategy that has to include social media, PPC ads, other forms of content marketing, etc. There is a lot of learning in the digital age that applies to marketing, and a good agency will explain this to you and perhaps help you develop a larger strategy.
6. You Must Focus on Outreach
Well, yes that is true. But “outreach” that is efficient is what you are looking for. Some businesses are local and their outreach should remain local; other are national; still others are international. Add to this, the specific demographic of your customer, and that outreach should be refined even more. These refinements can be made by developing long tail keywords and phrases that are used by more specific searches. Outreach that is universal and without limitations only brings unwanted traffic to your site. And if an SEO “expert” is going to show you analytics about traffic, they are meaningless unless that traffic is relevant.
7. We Can Guarantee You the Top Rank
No they can’t. Even Google says this. There is no way to guarantee this, because there is no way to know what your competition is doing to get itself in that top position too. You may get to that top position, but chances are you will not stay there. If someone promises you this, run away.
Be Careful and Be Smart
SEO individuals and agencies can be upfront and honest and explain things in terms you can understand, or they can try to cloak their services in a lot of technical terminology and detailed explanations to confuse you. If anyone you consider using for SEO services cannot explain it in terms that you can understand, then you need to find someone else who can.
Why SEO “Gurus” Don’t Share Their “Secrets”
Of course, every professional who sells his/her services has proprietary information that they will not share. But many supposed SEO gurus do not share much information because they do not want their clients to really understand what they are doing and how they are doing it. The truth of the matter is that anyone who has a computer and an Internet connection can claim SEO expertise. Here are some danger signs of “hiding” that can actually be harmful.
1. Your SEO expert is not giving you detailed information about the sites being used for link building. This is a sign that s/he may be using low-quality sites just to show you numbers. Search engines will pick up on this and may penalize you for it.
2. Your SEO expert explains that these strategies are really complicated and that you wouldn’t understand all of the intricacies of the strategies.
3. Your SEO expert can’t explain in simple terms what s/he is doing because s/he really does not have any expertise beyond the average person. He or she will tend to use lots of technical jargon to impress. The bottom line is this supposed expert has no “secrets.”
When All is Said and Done
SEO is important. You do want to show up when both generic and specific searches are conducted. It does bring traffic to our site if you are at least on the first page results. Beyond that, however, SEO should be put in perspective. It is one way to drive traffic to your site, but it is only one piece of an entire marketing strategy that must be used to bring in the right kind of traffic.
When you choose to contract out for SEO services, you need to look very carefully at the credentials of the people you are considering. Get references; go online and find reviews of their services; try to use an individual or an agency that a fellow business owner has used and can recommend. The money you spend should be worth it. And, because unscrupulous SEO bad guys can actually do you harm, you need to be vigilant and demand explanation that you can understand.
Elaina Meiser is a tech-savvy graduate student and an enthusiastic blogger. She started blogging five-plus years ago as a hobby, and now she is eager to keep on writing about everything worth knowing in the digital age. You can follow her on Twitter @ElainaMeiser and read her blog Resumes Expert.