November 29, 2006
Fantastic resource -- keep up the good work!
As you know there are a lot of so-called SEO/SEM experts/gurus claiming all
sorts of things. The analogy to me is like "quack" doctors compared to the
Are there 6 or a dozen questions that would expose those purporting to be
Thanks in advance - I await your answer!
This is a great question, and one that I hear a lot from businesses looking
to hire a search marketing firm. So in an effort to help you distinguish the
quacks from the professionals, I've written the following article.
10 Signs That Your SEO Is a Quack
By Jill Whalen
There are so many SEO/SEM firms cropping up that talk a good game but don't
deliver results. This is in part because there's so much information that
is freely available about search engine optimization. On the surface, SEO
sounds easy -- and it really is -- once you've had a number of sites to
experiment with. What's even easier than SEO, however, is discussing SEO as
if you know what you're actually doing (when you don’t)!
Here are 10 signs to watch out for that may very well indicate that your
potential SEO is a quack. Please note that one of these individually may
not be bad, but if you notice more than 2 or 3 of these when speaking with
any SEO company, you may just want to head for the hills!
1. Your SEO company talks about Meta tags and Google PageRank (PR) as if
they are the magic bullet to high rankings.
For the most part, there's no reason to even bring up the keyword Meta tag
nor toolbar PR in a discussion about what needs to be done to get better
search engine exposure for your site. Both of them are issues that quack
SEO companies will talk about because they actually believe they are the key
to SEO success. They are not. I've discussed in previous articles the Meta
keyword tag’s lack of importance, so I won't go into that again here. In
regards to PageRank, increasing the little green bar graph's number should
never be the ultimate goal of a professional SEO campaign. A good campaign
will automatically increase your real and true PageRank (as measured by
Google) without your specifically setting out to increasing it on your own.
Since PR doesn't bring you traffic and sales (nor rankings), increasing it
should not ever be the main goal of your campaign. This fact is of course
lost on SEO quacks.
2. Your SEO company's site (or those of their clients) has the same Title
tags on every page. Sounds crazy I know, but I've seen this more than once!
I once got a client who had previously used a very major SEO company that
most people have heard of. They had been with this firm for a whole year,
and yet the Title tags on every page of their site were all the same (the
name of the company). Since Title tags are probably the most important (and
easiest) thing to change on a site, any SEO company that can't do this one
basic thing for their own site or their clients’ is most definitely a quack!
3. Your SEO company talks only about optimizing for the "long tail." Now,
don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with long-tail keyword phrases, as
they can bring a lot of traffic when all is said and done. But you don't
need an SEO company if those are the only phrases you're interested in --
you can do it yourself just by writing articles. Your SEO company should
not be afraid to optimize for the actual keyword phrases that most people
would use at the engines to find your site. Yeah, it's gonna take time and
money to go after the most competitive keyphrases, but there's usually a
happy medium. Most sites have plenty of phrases that are somewhere between
long tail and highly competitive. Those are the ones you definitely want to
4. Your SEO company tells you it's ALL about links (or ALL about content).
SEO isn't ALL about anything. It's about lots of things all added together
to make the perfect combination for your site. A linking campaign alone
will never be as effective if you neglect your on-page content, and vice
versa. Be sure that your SEO company looks at your site from all angles and
makes sure all your bases are covered. Otherwise, they're probably a quack!
5. Your SEO company tells you that you need a linking campaign even though
you already have tons of links and are a well-established popular site in
your niche. Not every site needs every SEO service out there. Just because
your SEO company likes to sell link-building doesn't mean you actually need
it for your site. Why should you pay for something you don't need? The same
thing goes for sites that already have great, well-written, optimized
content. If you've got that, perhaps you just need a linking campaign to
help boost your traffic and sales. Don't allow an SEO quack to fix what
isn't actually broken.
6. Your SEO company is almost surely 99% quackish if they tell you that they
can rank your brand-new site in Google for keywords that will bring you
traffic within a few months. In fact, if they claim they can do it in less
than 9 months, they’re either inexperienced or lying. Google has an aging
delay that is most certainly related to the age of the site, as well as a
certain trust factor. It is only the very rare and wonderful site that can
get around this delay. But if your site is like most, you're going to have
to look to the long term for your Google results, regardless of what the
quacks might try to convince you of.
7. Your SEO company never mentions that they may very well need to redo your
site architecture so that your important pages are prominently featured
within your site navigation. In this case it's very possible you're dealing
with an inexperienced, quack SEO. This is usually something that is not a
quick fix, so most quacks are reluctant to discuss it with you (if they even
know it's important). But if your site architecture is not
search-engine-ready, everything else you do will have much less impact.
8. Your SEO company can't provide you with any quality references. This one
pretty much goes without saying, but do be sure to get references, and do be
sure to actually call them. Yeah, a reference may very well turn out to be
their cousin, but you should be able to get some feel for the company you're
choosing if you can at least talk to some references.
9. Your SEO company tells you that you have to have a DMOZ listing or your
site will never be able to get high rankings. Sure, a DMOZ listing is
great, but it's a link just like any other. Submit and forget about it. If
you don't get in, it's no big deal -- there are plenty of other links you
can get instead.
10. Your SEO company's site mentions that they'll get you high rankings in
AltaVista, Fast, Inktomi, Lycos, Excite, HotBot and the like. If it does,
you are 100% positively dealing with a quack! 'Nuff said!