You could spend a few years of your life sorting through all of the blogs, whitepapers, and videos online offering advice on search engine optimization. Yet, so many users get convinced that certain SEO strategies are worth their time and money when these companies are really just touting spam services hidden behind smoke and mirrors.
For SEO specialists like myself (I never like to use the word expert, because Google is constantly changing), these spam services put a bad taste in people’s mouth about the industry.
Specialists do educate on what SEO should be and how it is constantly evolving to a focus on social media and content marketing, but it is still easy to get trapped by outdated methods when you have someone speak to you in technical terms that are hard to understand.
Don’t fall for these SEO services that are actually spam:
Excessive, Behind-the-Scenes Link Building
Due to the changes in Google, content creators tend to move in one extreme or the other in terms of link building. Link-building can help you, but it has to be in moderation. Think of links as the paths that both users and the search engine will travel to find your content.
If you outsource this, be aware of the types of link building done outside of content such as directory link building. It should seem natural and not done all at once with a flip of a switch. If you’re concerned, ask how many directories your site is being added to each month and ask to have the Page Rank pulled for each of those sites. No link building at all (remember, social shares are link building) doesn’t allow Google to connect the dots as quickly to what your website is about. It is still a robot, after all. But you have to be smart about it.
Landing Pages for the Sake of Content
Now that you’ve sprinkled in a few links here and a few links there, you’re doing SEO, right? Not really. Circle back to the previous mention that SEO is about user and the content. This means that a link should be relevant and the page the user lands on should also be relevant. If you link on the phrase “iPhone case” it should land on a page about iPhone cases. That is how Google begins to connect all of your content and ranks it in search for a particular phrase.
Focus on strengthening the landing pages you have now, instead of adding 100 new pages every month, and make them relevant through quality content and natural link building. If you outsource this, the vendor should be more concerned with unique content that engages users rather than a report stating how many pages of content was added to the site in a given month. Beware of any company focusing on quantity instead of quality.
Also, unique and relevant content means it was written for your brand, not repurposed content from elsewhere. That type of service should be a supplement to your content strategy, not your only means of content building. Which brings us to…
I’ve had many bosses, clients, and co-workers who loved the idea of cheap content. Every time someone forwards me an email that talks about x amount of words for x cents, I furiously press the delete button and then have to talk a walk around the building to cool off. Content isn’t cheap and no, not everyone can write great content. Look up how much a seasoned freelance blogger charges for a blog post and set that as your new standard for content. It’s not $10.
When outsourcing content, read everything! Many times I’ve sent content to a client for review and it was never even reviewed by them. If you’re going to outsource content, ask for writing samples from the specific writer who will be creating content for you, and read everything before it goes live. Set your standards not only by price but by quality.
Someone Else Taking Complete Control
“We’ll build you that blog, create those videos, and completely run your social networks!”
“…but if you leave us they all come down.”
Anything built on your dime should be yours. In some cases, it is industry standard for a “secret sauce” to be proprietary information (such as with paid advertising), so always read your contract carefully with any type of vendor to see what you own at the end of its terms. This goes for agreements even outside of SEO companies – when was the last time you read the terms for Instagram or Facebook posts? Stay in control of your content and understand what is yours, what is for the public to use, and what is owned by a third party vendor you just hired.
Reports That Don’t Make Sense
Many times when a client would come on board, they would send me their SEO reports or they would send over emails from a salesperson from another company. I’ve seen quite a few examples of great reports and not so great reports. The not so great report never makes much sense.
“Congratulations, client, you are ranking number 1 for a search time that we made up to make the ranking results look fantastic!”
Reports should be focused on building awareness within your target market, and that takes time. Confused? Send it to an unbiased third party to review.
Hopefully, highlighting these common “spam” services sheds some light on SEO strategies that make sense for your business and for yourself. Listen to your gut above all, you know what is right for your brand better than any “guru” out there!
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