Everyone and their dog offers search engine optimization services.
You’d be hard pressed to find a blog owner, or website owner these days who hasn’t once been contacted by a company or representative that’s trying to push their SEO services. Not all SEO companies and techniques are created equal, some are out right scams. The problem is anyone can claim themselves an expert as there is no official designation or certificate proving a company’s legitimacy. This does not mean you should discredit SEO services all together for your business. Real optimization techniques tailored for your business, niche, and with a long term strategy can skyrocket your site traffic in the right circumstances. Understand that your return on investment might not be realized for several months though. See this Forbes article for extra background information.
The bad. What to look out for.
In general, companies claiming quick results, demanding upfront payment for the entire service, and guaranteeing results are outright scams. You can never be 100% certain, and overall it can be very difficult to discern quality services from scams. The below are some quick tell tale signs to look out for when you’re being approached.
TIPS TO IDENTIFY SCAMS
- Anyone offering guaranteed first page search results.
- Service providers claiming they can get you top SEO rankings within 48 hours!
- Anyone offering significant results in under 1 month.
- Companies claiming that they have special insider knowledge of Google, Bing, or Yahoo’s search engines.
- Companies who offer keyword stuffing services – see why this is actually terrible for your SEO.
- Service providers who offer you 30 day free trials.
- Companies claiming they’ll submit your website to thousands of search directories.
- Companies with no references or real results.
- Companies claiming rights to your content once optimized. Avoid at all costs as this could lead to blackmailing and worst case a total loss of content on your site.
- Suspiciously cheap offerings well below all other competitors.
How SEO scams unfold.
Companies offering services as described above are out to trap clients and businesses into signing onto their service. The offer is a one time deal, quick and easy, and contract completed when the company tells you the work is done. This means they provide no monitoring or measurement of their work after contract completion. They have no investment in realizing their claimed results for you. At the very least, any somewhat legitimate service provider will provide you a report including some basic SEO key performance indicators.
The good. What to expect.
Quality SEO companies know the implementation of their techniques will take time and need to evolve through several phases. Expect that your initial investment will be spent on the keyword, branding, phrase, and competitive analysis of your marketable product or service. This initial phase could take up to a month. Implementation of search optimization techniques could be another few weeks. From there, its a long process, up to 4-6 months, and even after that your SEO results will always be improving over the next few years.
TIPS TO IDENTIFY LEGITIMATE SEO SERVICES FROM SEO SCAMS
- Companies looking to have your business on board with their SEO program for a minimum of 3-6 months.
- Companies that will provide data and metrics tracking reports to you on a regular basis.
- Companies that have legitimate reviews and results from real businesses, and real websites.
- Services that are specifically centered around your goals; conversion, lead generation, click through. All these goals have different search engine techniques that need be used for the best results.
- Companies who communicate effectively, align with your goals, and sell you on their processes, not just industry standard SEO techniques.
Are there really no short term results in the SEO world?
Not really. Short term results you can expect to see are essentially the outcomes of the most basic SEO techniques being implemented. When your site gets relaunched, and re-crawled(what’s this?) then Google search console(search engine console) will analyze and re-calibrate your site into it’s user search results. Once that re-crawl has taken place, then Google will basically have verified that simple errors you may have had before SEO are now fixed.
IMMEDIATE RESULTS YOU CAN ACTUALLY GET FROM SEO COMPANIES
- Spam links removed from your sites.
- 404(broken or soft-broken pages) fixed.
- Page download times reduced. (Google takes page load times into consideration when indexing your site)
- Page redirects and canonical URLs implemented in search results.
- New Meta descriptions and page titles shown in Google’s search results. (What the search users see when they see your site in their search results, see image below. Title with description below.
What you should do as a business owner.
Don’t rush into the SEO process and get swooned in by shiny guarantees of quick results. Search engine optimization is a complicated procedure, there are literally billions of websites out there, so the competition is real. Educate yourself on the basics, so you can easily spot when a company is skimming over the details that’d actually make a difference in SEO results.
Rely on word of mouth: this will be your number one indicator that an SEO service providing company is both in it to get you real results, and be a real partner to your business.
Protect your business: certain techniques are know as Black Hat SEO and in the long term could damage your domain’s validity in the eyes of search engines.
Be patient: Any thing good takes time. Quality services need lead up and follow up time to be properly implemented. Take your time and pick the right company to work with, and allow them the time they need to work best for your business goals.