By Bob Speyer – Web Success Team
SEO is one of the most hyped online services and the most misunderstood. So how do you avoid spending your valuable online marketing dollars and hire a company that truly understands your marketing needs and can deliver expected or promised results?
Here is Part One of SEO Red Flags to help you avoid the pitfalls of predatory SEO firms and their claims.
Red Flag #1. Exaggerated Claims
SEO firms promise you the world – “You will be #1 on Google” in 30 days.” The old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!” Many online marketers tempt you by guaranteeing top rankings in Google or promise to dramatically increase your search rankings in no time at all. The truth is they can’t. In fact, Google states, “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.” Reputable firms will give you the reality check, that it takes time and considerable effort to increase your visibility and Internet footprint.
Red Flag #2: Beware of the Black Hat SEOers
Some SEO marketers employ “Black Hat” techniques that stretch the best practices rules (called White Hat SEO) to get better search results for clients. While not technically illegal, unsavory black hat technicians will hurt your business over time. Some of the most common black hat strategies to red flag are:
- Keyword Cramming – stuffing a number of keywords on a webpage and not weaving them into useful content.
- Gateway Pages – creating one-page, keyword-heavy pages that redirect viewers to another webpage.
- Disappearing Text – using keyword-rich white text on a white background that have search engine spiders “read” the invisible text to get higher rankings.
- Excessive Linking – developing link farms with hundreds of inbound links back to your website.
Red Flag #3: Shotgun Approach to Targeting Keywords
With all the keyword research tools available, anyone can have access to a large list of keywords for your vertical. But the key is, “Are you paying for the right keywords, ones that will give you the best results?” If you are in a popular business, you will have a difficult time competing for top rankings by using one or two word keywords, such as lawyer or office furniture. You should be targeting long-tail keyword phrases like reclining leather executive office chairs or ones using brand names. For geographic areas, you should target Los Angeles criminal lawyer.
Red Flag #4: Promises of 100s of Online Directories
Beware of firms promising to list your site on hundreds or even thousands of online directories that will give you tons of inbound links and increased traffic. The truth is that most of these directories do not provide high quality links without the authoritative link juice valued by search engines. Productive online directories are more valuable that bulk directories, include Yahoo Business Directory, Business.com, DMOZ Directory and The Best of the Web Directory. Another good source of links are local business directories presented by Google, Yahoo and Bing. Plus an effective online marketing strategy to achieve web success is to list your company’s blog on quality recognized blog directories like Technorati.com, Blogsearch.Google.com and Blogged.com. If search firms are spending their efforts on directory submissions, they aren’t doing the heavy lifting necessary to get quality traffic and results through keyword rich content.
Red Flag #5: The Importance of 301 Redirects
If you are revising your website or creating new pages, it is important to use a tool called a 301 redirect – that points the search engines and spiders to the new page.
The importance of this is that the 301 redirects keep your existing URL intact and automatically forwards traffic to the new page, allowing search engines to keep your ranking. If you don’t use the 301 redirects, all your previous efforts in establishing your rankings will be lost!
Red Flags: Part Two
Getting the right advise about online marketing can be challenging as there are so many wild claims. It is best to get a recommendation from your colleagues as to which online marketing firms have gotten them results. Remember, there is no substitute to hard work and a planned marketing strategy that incorporates the best practices. Red Flags, Part Two will be out in a few days. Stay tuned, it could help you avoid SEO mistakes that could cost you more time and money.
As always, we welcome reader feedback? Have you been burned you your SEO “specialist” and if so, what was their pitch and their results!
To Your Web Success!
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