Whether you're launching a new site or simply trying to get better results from your existing site, you know that a big part of your success will come from ranking well in Google's organic search results. Most web pages won't be able to do that without a lot of behind-the-scenes blood, sweat, and tears in the form of Search Engine Optimization or SEO. SEO is a big and complicated venture, and the rules that determine how your site ranks change on a near daily basis. Even the professionals sometimes struggle to keep up with Google's newest patents, algorithms, and adjustments that can turn a winning site into a big loser almost overnight.
While many companies claim to offer SEO services - and some even guarantee certain results - it's important to do your research before hiring an individual or a firm to handle your company's search rankings. Below, we've shared the red flags that Google warns businesses to avoid when choosing someone to optimize a website.
Google Says (borrowed from here):
If you're thinking about hiring an SEO, the earlier the better. A great time to hire is when you're considering a site redesign, or planning to launch a new site. That way, you and your SEO can ensure that your site is designed to be search engine-friendly from the bottom up. However, a good SEO can also help improve an existing site.
Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.
Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:
I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories..."
Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for "burn fat at night" diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.
Be careful if a company is secretive or won't clearly explain what they intend to do. Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or "throwaway" domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google's index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it's best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to "help" you. If an SEO has FTP access to your server, they should be willing to explain all the changes they are making to your site.
A Final Note from ImageWorks
While these three warnings may sound like common sense, it's easy to get sucked in by the promise of high rankings and better sales. We also wish there was a way to guarantee our site's SEO performance!
Since there are no (reputable) guarantees available, we do the next best thing. We constantly review and analyze recent changes to Google's algorithm, and we adjust our site accordingly. Most importantly, we try to make sure that everything we publish is useful to you, our visitors. We can make sure that your site operates the same way - while growing your business according to the best SEO practices we know!
Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our recent SEO series for more information, or contact us to learn more about the services we offer.