Working as a legitimate, Las Vegas SEO firm in an industry fraught with skepticism has it challenges (as well as its joys), many of which can be directly linked to so-called “SEO experts” that are the root cause of an ongoing issue that grows year by year. As the CEO of SEO, I simply cannot put into raw numbers the times that I’ve held business development meetings with potential clients that have been burned by their former SEO, some guy on Craigslist, or their uncle’s neighbor’s sister’s cousin’s fifteen year old “SEO guy” that will ” definitely rank you #1 on Google.”
As a team, we spend hundreds of hours each year performing SEO audits on behalf of companies who work with SEO firms of all size – even some recognized name brands – and invariably poke holes in half-hearted programs aimed at helping not the client, but the SEO firm “managing” the program. It makes my job infinitely more challenging, so I’m taking it upon myself to let the world know that there are just a few items that you should never hear your SEO say. If they tell you any of the following, shoot them, and then fire them…in that order. Here goes:
Let me go ahead and address these SEO no-no’s in detail, since I hear this a minimum of 10 times a month when engaged by a potential client. First, you should know that Advise Media Group has never spent a day or a dollar marketing our own firm. Not once. Ever. Great SEO spreads virally, much like social media and youtube videos. Excellent work speaks for itself. And if you excel in your industry, you will be found- whether you are a golden arm on the fast track to the majors but limited to exposure because you play in small-town Mississippi (not to pick on Mississippi), the 26 year old star attorney who’s name is not yet on the marquee, or a boutique SEO firm in Las Vegas working to establish mutually beneficial, long term relationships while maintaining the client’s best interest first and foremost (what a concept).
#1: Oh, no problem….I know a guy at Google – Your SEO doesn’t know anyone at Google, never has known anyone at Google, and never will know anyone at Google. Even if by some remote chance your SEO did know someone at Google, that “guy” won’t just flip a switch to help his buddy out. I love this one….it’s my cherished favorite and, unfortunately, one I hear often.
#2: Of course we can rank you #1 for your keywords – It’s simply not possible to predict with any certainty where your keywords will rank. SEO takes resources and time- there is no magic potion or short cut to ranking well. For every hour of time you spend optimizing for top rankings, a competing site may be spending two. Or three. Or ten. It’s an impossibility to predict absolute rankings, even in the most non-competitive environments and certainly in the most saturated and complex. Ask your SEO guy for case studies and referrals from previous clients. How have they performed in the past?
#3: Why aren’t you ranking? Ummmm, uhhh, oh yeah…Google changed the algorithm (again) – Google does change the algorithm, but well-done SEO should not be built around a today-only formula. Strong SEO programs are built for the long haul, providing a true, relevant presence online that will deliver solid exposure regardless of tweaks in the machine. If and when things change, there will be movement…but for a professionally managed SEO program, that movement should be minimal, and can often increase a site’s rankings. This is always EXCUSE #1, frequently used and abused by inferior SEO’s to blame engines for their failures in properly implementing a well-thought-out strategy.
#4: Just sign the contract riiiiight here - Your SEO “firm” should be on a results oriented, performance based program solely. No question. Analytics data will be the report card for effectiveness and your SEO must be required to provide you with monthly reports, minimally. And should they actually provide you with solid rankings, make sure it’s for keywords that actually drive traffic- not for some longtail term that ranks #1, but is searched twice a year. “Fish Tank Manufacturers in South East Las Vegas Open 9-5 Mon-Fri” is not a relevant term, regardless of how well you rank. But I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah….Contracts are toxic….avoid them.
#5: Social media is replacing SEO (aka “we can optimize you for Facebook”) – When is the last time you searched Facebook, Delicious, or any other Social Platform for a product you wish to purchase? Facebook, and most social media, has it’s place in marketing your services. But, this should be an aspect of your online marketing, not your entire online marketing program. Enough said.
#6: Local search is overrated… - Let’s be very clear on this one. Clients are consistently confused by localpages.com, yp.com, dexknows.com and other local search platforms. When I say local search, I am referring to the importance of ranking well in Google Maps, Yahoo / Bing Local, and a handful of other platforms. Local search is hugely valuable in that form, less so with online directories that overcharge and underperform- as most tend to do. Make sure your SEO has a solid strategy for ranking you well in Google Maps- especially in highly competitive markets where a client’s resources may be limited and time is of the essence in ranking well- and quickly.
#7: We can rank you in any industry regardless of budget….guaranteed – At Advise Media Group, if we can’t sit across the table from you after a few months of SEO work and show you significant progress, we won’t take you on as a client. Period. Some industries are so saturated and prohibitively competitive that only massive resources ($$$$) can help a client compete. Online gaming, pornography, real estate, personal injury law, and a few others have very little room for growth without significant resources and highly-creative teams of true experts behind the wheel. If you feel your industry is highly competitive, ask for a solid case study as to how your SEO has overcome these “unwinnable” situations in the past. And don’t hold your breath.
#8: “Guaranteed”…in any form – “Guaranteed” and “SEO” should never collide in the same sentence, except in certain circumstances….see below
That’s it for today’s lesson, boys and girls. I will say it again. SEO is not magic, snake oil, or flipping a switch. It involves discipline, strategy, experience, insight, creativity, time, consistency and, above all else, expertise to help you increase your online visibility in today’s internet marketing climate. Without any single one of those factors, you are simply throwing your “SEO” resources away…I “guarantee” it. (that’s one of ‘em)
The CEO of SEO