In the world of SEO, there are plenty of smart, trustworthy people. They keep up on the industry, watch for Google’s next move, and provide measured advice. These people look like this, this and this.
But there are also plenty of con artists out there. These are the people who build their sales pitches around buzzwords. Who assume that reading a Wikipedia page about social media or SEO makes them an expert. Who believe they can sell ice to Eskimos, and would do so at the drop of a hat.
These, my friends, are the SEO Quacks. Sometimes, they look like this. Other times though, they look just like you and me.
So how do you know if you’re talking to a quack or a legit expert? Here are some traits that the fakers have in common:
Remember Kriss Kross? The 90′s kid rappers whose gimmick was wearing their pants backwards? Check out about 20 seconds into this video if you need a reminder of how dumb this looked.
Sadly, there were some kids who didn’t understand that the rearranged trousers look was just music industry hype. As a result, I bet we all knew a kid who showed up at school with his pants in a holy mess, dumbfounded that his popularity didn’t blow through the roof.
Old media playing in SEO is like this. They’re amazed at how forward thinking they are. Actual SEOs are laughing.
Smart SEO is strategic and flexible. It doesn’t come in neatly wrapped packages. Smart SEO works from a custom strategy, bespoke to a client’s individual needs.
If you want guaranteed rankings, talk to Google directly. In theory, they could promise you rankings. They’re the only ones who can. And they’re not going to do it.
Google is a black box. You put a search in one end and results come out the other end. No one fully knows what happens in the middle. A good SEO has some educated guesses and research to support those guesses. But in the end, they can’t guarantee rankings.
Don’t fall for it. If you do fall for it, come talk to us next. We’re offering an incredible deal on some lovely beachfront property in the arctic circle. You’d be a great match.
A client of ours showed me some clickthrough reports from an ad campaign they bought from a local media source. It was a one page excel spreadsheet with no hint as to where it came from, how the numbers were calculated, or what the client might have gotten out of those clicks.
For all I know, these are propaganda stats. They came from a proprietary tracking system that I’ve never seen. Maybe they’re a good representation of the truth, but the client is powerless to challenge them.
Real tracking comes from robust analytics. If you’re sold an SEO package without access to something like Google Analytics, think twice. Heck, think four times. This will mean you are at the mercy of your vendor for success stats. And they’re able to show you any stats they like.
Google’s keyword tool is immensely helpful for figuring out what the best keywords are for a business to target. But if you don’t know anything about match types, you’re going to find yourself more optimistic than you should be.
I don’t want to nerd out here and talk too much about match types (this conversation pretty much covers it), but let me just say this: If a salesperson doesn’t use the correct keyword match type when they do their research, they’re going to show you numbers that are very misleading.
A word to the wise – take a few minutes to learn about match types. It could mean the difference between buying a smart SEO package and a lemon.
The fact that I keep hearing SEO salespeople talking about keyword meta tags in 2011 just flat out blows my mind. The short story is this: THEY DON’T MATTER.
Some metatags are still important, but most aren’t. For the non-nerd reader, keyword meta tags are little pieces of code that used to work like gangbusters to get your site ranked on Google.
The key phrase here is used to work. Google itself tells the world these don’t matter one bit anymore, and it doesn’t look like they’re making a comeback anytime soon.
If a salesperson tells you he’s going to update your keyword meta tags for you, smack him. Tell him 1996 called and it wants it’s silly web marketing tactic back. Then politely suggest he consider selling something else like used cars, pet rocks or snake oil.
I bet you’ve probably been approached already by someone selling SEO. If you haven’t, it’s coming. Hopefully it’s someone like us. Not to toot our own horns but we know a thing or two about it.
Sadly, it’s more likely that you’ll be cornered by a fast-talking schmo, eager to get as many buzzwords under your nose as possible.
Don’t play dead – he’ll only talk more. Instead, use your rapier-like wit and ask the following questions. If they induce stammering, sweating, or trouser-soiling, shuffle your newly flaccid friend out the door like so many recyclables.
SEO is pointless if it’s not addressing your business’ goals. We small businesses don’t have huge marketing budgets, so we need to spend our money smartly. We’ve got to make sure we’re investing in ROI.