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Reviewing an SEO Firm?
mfmikeb




msg:239806
 8:33 pm on Jul 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

My (very small) company was burned by a now famous SEO firm that used spammy tactics. This caused my site and dozens if not hundreds of others to be dropped from G's database.
My site had been #1 for years for a very competitive and popular search and is now gone.

I've been frequenting numerous forums. One is run by an SEO firm. In passing, the owner of this firm, replied to one of my posts that he felt GG's advice in THIS forum was right on but if it didn't clear things up with Google, he'd try to help. This SEO firm is listed in the top 3 or 4 on Google for virtually any SEO search you can do... [snip]...etc.

My question is: Does this have any bearing on whether or not I should trust them? I need somewhere to turn to.

[edited by: pageoneresults at 8:32 am (utc) on July 4, 2004]
[edit reason] Removed Specifics - Please Refer to TOS [/edit]

 

robotsdobetter




msg:239807
 9:27 pm on Jul 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

Any SEO that uses spam should be alarm to you or for any other webmaster. As a SEO myself I see these so called SEO sites and have to think to my self who are they trying to kid! Most of these SEO companies are spamming and don't even know how to SEO, if they are really a great SEO than they will be in the top ten
for SEO terms.

SEO is a big market today and everyone thinks they can become one and start a company for SEO, but you should look at there site...

Do they use spam?

Do they seem to know what they are talking about?

Ask to see other sites they have done...

Does the sites that they have done use spam?

Are they ranking good for there market?

That's just a few things you should like at, other thing you should look at is will they talk to you on the phone and ask around to see if anyone else has used them.

I hope this helps you!

jdMorgan




msg:239808
 10:14 pm on Jul 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

> Ask to see other sites they have done.

Absolutely, and take these sites apart line-by-line to see what techniques have been used. Compare these to the guidelines that Google publishes in their Webmaster Help section.

Even if an SEO firm uses "aggressive tactics," one of the first questions they should ask you is the same that a good stockbroker will ask: What is your risk tolerance? Like investing, SEO techniques range along a curve from low-risk, with a probability of long-term growth, to high-risk, with a possibility of great profit or a total loss.

A major red flag would be if you are never asked this question, and if a range of options are not presented.

Jim

TomJ




msg:239809
 10:22 pm on Jul 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

or just DIY?

ogletree




msg:239810
 10:25 pm on Jul 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

Do not go to anybody that needs your business.

A good SEO:

1. does not need there own site.

2. will interview you and see if you are worth having as a client.

3. Charges a lot.

4. Can give you good refferences.

5. Will tell you exactly what they are going to do.

6. Will not promise to get your number one for your competive terms.

7. Will promise to make you money.

SEO is no big secret. Any big secret is SPAM. If you want to rank fast for some big word that is over 1000 on WT you will have to SPAM if you want there quick. Sometimes SPAM is the only way to get there.

BaseVinyl




msg:239811
 10:41 pm on Jul 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

"My site had been #1 for years for a very competitive and popular search and is now gone."

When you are so good-looking there is ne reason to have plastic surgery!

hurlimann




msg:239812
 10:48 pm on Jul 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

One way or another I guess your post will get them banned or downgraded along with a lot of their clients.

Frankly this outfit seems one of the better ones but still they are wide open to a human ban.

Google "sees" nearly 10,000 links to them yet omit all but 141 as they see the rest are "very similar".
Googles algo is not perfect but be sure some WebmasterWorld members will now be pointing this out to GG demanding action. Game up!

mfmikeb




msg:239813
 12:17 am on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>"My site had been #1 for years for a very competitive and popular search and is now gone."

>When you are so good-looking there is ne reason to have plastic surgery!

I hear this alot and I'm still surprised. Not meaning to be out of line but if we sell [snip] which we do, and we sell over 1000 different items, being #1 for "[snip]" does not mean I don't want to be in good positioin for as many individual items as possible.

[edited by: pageoneresults at 8:35 am (utc) on July 4, 2004]
[edit reason] Removed Specifics - Please Refer to TOS [/edit]

mfmikeb




msg:239814
 12:21 am on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

>A good SEO:
1. does not need there own site.

Why not? I don't understand that. Does that mean that all the SEO's I see on line are *not* good ones? This is a sincere question not argumentative.

3. Charges a lot.

What is a lot? We spent $2500 and could have spent more..a lot more. And still got burned.

4. Can give you good refferences.

This company in question had outstanding references. How was I to know everyone else was as lame as me with this? :-)

7. Will promise to make you money.

did you mean will NOT promise to make you money? I trust NOBODY that "promises" to make me money or put me #1.

robotsdobetter




msg:239815
 12:46 am on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

>A good SEO:
1. does not need there own site.
Why not? I don't understand that. Does that mean that all the SEO's I see on line are *not* good ones? This is a sincere question not argumentative.

I disagree with this as well, if you are that great of a SEO and can hire a few people why can't you have your own web site? What's wrong with making a little more money?

3. Charges a lot.
What is a lot? We spent $2500 and could have spent more..a lot more. And still got burned.

This really depends on what market you are in and how much work (ranking, how large your site is, etc) they will have to do.

jdMorgan




msg:239816
 1:05 am on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

> I trust NOBODY that "promises" to make me money or put me #1.

No-one can promise to make you #1, because search engine algorithms change all the time (among many other factors). They can, however, promise to give you a return on your investment, otherwise they won't want to take you on as a client (why take on a client you can't satisfy?). So the two promises are very different.

Jim

ogletree




msg:239817
 1:21 am on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

I did not say that having a website was bad just that you don't need one. If you are good you don't need to advertise much. As a matter of fact you don't want every joe with $5000 as a client. If you are good you can be picky and turn down clients. I don't have time for people who don't know what they are doing. There are more people that need SEO than people that can really do it. If they are a good SEO there is no question as to what they can do. Promising to help people make money is something you can do. There is more to SEO than just getting the big money word. I would much rather have 5000 little words than one big one. I make 6 figures a year on one adsense site and it does not have one money word. I Don't want people gunning for me. I play it safe. You are number one for some big word you have to SPAM your pants off and people will do everything they can to take you down. I still try to get the terms I just use white hat and it takes longer. If somebody just says get me this word and that all I want they are stupid in my opinion and I don't want to deal with them. The only reason I do any SEO is to diverafy because you never know what G is going to do. Actualy I only take a small down payment and take a percentage of profits. It works for both sites. That way I would never take a client that I did not think I could make them money. Becaue I won't make it either. I have websites but I would never tell anybody about my websites I like to lay low.

claus




msg:239818
 2:07 am on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

>> outstanding references. How was I to know everyone else was as lame

That's a very good point. I know of a few very reputable companies that under no circumstances would do what they are doing if they only knew what they actually were doing.

Still, it seems they've gotten a good deal with some firm, and it obviously brings them some kind of results, so they're happy (for the time being). And because of that they're not that keen to believe you when you tell them that it might not be the right thing to do in their exact case.

In fact, you can point them towards all the "SE guidelines" you wish, but you'll always meet this answer in some form: "Look, if this was bad practice, why would we rank so good?"

So, references are not really that valuable - as much as some firms might be high profile brand names they're also often quite ignorant as to what is and what is not "good SEO" - after all, knowing this is the responsability of the SEO, isn't it? Why should they care, if that's what they pay a SEO firm to do?

IOW, we have a Catch 22 here.

The only solution seems to be that the SE's enforce their guidelines much stronger, but ... If that should happen, it will inevitably lead to quite a few sites getting the boot for what was until now considered "safe practice, guidelines or not". It will also lead to quite a few SEO's losing business, and both things are... well, bad news around this board.

Also, it is true that some industries are "inherently spammy" - to a SEO this means that the risk profile of this industry is ...say, "exposed", and you should not work with customers in these industries without telling them that there are different risks that they might face if they choose to do "so-and-so" and the consequences hereof.

Please note the word "choose". The customer must choose the strategy, not the SEO, and it must be an informed choice.

A customer should not be booted from the index without this being an effect of a deliberately made choice resulting in a strategy implying this risk. If a customer knows this beforehand, he/she will also have the opportunity to react accordingly.

In this case, "react accordingly" could mean "accept the loss and move on". That's a fair option for some, but it will seem like a very hard fact to face if you're not prepared for it. And, if you did not know you followed such a strategy, then your SEO did not inform you properly, and he/she is to blame.

The same goes if the tools employed were not the right ones for the task at hand. Trying to use a bulldozer to polish a shop window will probably get you fired (at least), and the same sould be the case in SEO matters.

OTOH, if you were informed, and the tools were chosen deliberately, you would have had the time to prepare your exit strategy, so there's no problem, just follow it.

As for:

>> How to trust an SEO

Speaking as a SEO (*) it's much the same thing as "how to trust a used car salesman" or "how to trust a stock broker/merchant banker" if you prefer.

The more you know about the issue at hand, the easier it will be for you to to get a reliable gut-feeling about any such firm. More important: Knowledge will enable you to ask the right questions.

And, if the answers does not please you - or they are not clear about things - just leave them and find another firm. There's plenty of SEO's out there, so there's no way you should be forced to work with a firm that can't meet your expectations (your budget might be another issue)

So, your question could be rephrased as "How do i get more knowledge about SEO?" and the answer is right before you, in this forum.

Read here, and don't be scared about asking stupid questions, there are none.

-----------------
(*) This is not the most important part of my business i should say. And no, i'm not looking for work.

tbear




msg:239819
 2:59 am on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>>I need somewhere to turn to.<<<
Guess you're gonna have to learn a little about SEO........
Check out Brett's guide, if only I could find the thread, it's a good place to start to be able to evaluate an SEO.......

tbear




msg:239820
 3:02 am on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

Found it :)
[searchengineworld.com ]

digitalv




msg:239821
 4:21 am on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

Actualy I only take a small down payment and take a percentage of profits.

People actually go for that? I would never give a percentage of my profits to an SEO.

robotsdobetter




msg:239822
 6:34 am on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

I am with digitalv, I would never do that! SEO can only take you so far, maybe being high on most/some search engines will bring me traffic, but it can't make my visitors into customers!

ogletree




msg:239823
 3:44 pm on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

A lot of people go for that. Specialy people that have been burned or people that just can do not have the money unless there business does better. I also set a cap on how much I can earn. I would not work with them unless I thought I could make them money. I spend time with them looking at the business to make sure it is sound. If somebody wants to pay up front I will take it and that is what I propose first but a lot of people just don't have the money nor do they trust SEO. It is not an industry that most people understand it is quite new still to most people.

digitalv




msg:239824
 5:56 pm on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

A lot of people go for that. Specialy people that have been burned or people that just can do not have the money unless there business does better. I also set a cap on how much I can earn. I would not work with them unless I thought I could make them money. I spend time with them looking at the business to make sure it is sound. If somebody wants to pay up front I will take it and that is what I propose first but a lot of people just don't have the money nor do they trust SEO.

Is your cap an actual dollar figure? A business owner would have to be retarded to give up a percentage of their revenue for search engine optimization. Personally I'd rather get burned by a scam SEO than give half a percent of my profits to a legit one... talk about throwing money away. I just can't believe that someone would pay an SEO this way, that's almost as bad as paying a webmaster a percentage. It's a tactic widely used by people who aren't in business anymore :P

ogletree




msg:239825
 6:00 pm on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

Did you not read my post. I said that there is a cap that would have been my normal fee. It would pay almost the same as a normal SEO contract. You sign a contract with an SEO firm for a period of time. My way they have to pay a little more but there is more security for them. Also the SEO brought business that they client would have never received. You may know what you are doing but a lot of people are clueless when it comes to the web.

steve40




msg:239826
 6:14 pm on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

mfmikeb
I am afraid you need to make some decisions re: your own business strategy before you choose an SEO

1 Is number one Position Crucial
2 Do I need this position yesterday
3 Am I willing and can I afford for it to all go pear shaped in X weeks / months and start again

My own advice would be similar to any investment strategy
have a long term and a short term strategy
on different websites and never let them meet

Then choose accordingly
Short term choose smartest sharpest SEO who uses whatever and however to achieve the results you desire
and are willing to pay for , it could be even the guys that come amongst top 10 for SEO on serps

Long term choose much wiser and build a long term business relationship with the company with good references maybe best to choose on reccomendation

It comes down to the fact it is nearly impossible to obtain number 1 on competitive terms unless your SEO pushes the boundarys and you take chances
just my 2 cents worth
steve

Brett_Tabke




msg:239827
 6:34 pm on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

>A good SEO: 1. does not need there own site.
>> Why not?

Because they understand that a good business relationship is made face-to-face, and not over the web. They also have so much work available - that they don't need a good site. We said it a million times - I wouldn't trust an SEO with a "nice looking" site - never. Not a single one of the top 10 SEO's in the business have good sites. Two of the better ones, don't even have sites of their own.

2, I would never trust a site that pops up under the top seo keywords - they are either too arogant for their own good, or just plain seo clueless. Rule 1: stay off the radar.

blaze




msg:239828
 7:22 pm on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

My rule:

Never trust an SEO firm that wants to stay under the radar.

Good business means good branding. Anyone who is insecure about their brand is generally someone who wants to make money in very hit and run fashion. Profitable, perhaps, but in a way with generally weak morals. Not the kind of thing you want to write home to dad about.

While I agree that having #1 for SEO would probably make a firm too arrogant for their own good, getting high ranks for things like "SEO" do not equate cluelessness, pretty much by definition.

However, if you are talking about 'making money on the web' .. something *completely* different than SEO, then I would agree with the above statements.

SEO is about getting high ranking for groups of keywords.

Getting lots of converting traffic is not SEO. That's a different business entirely. That's the business that consults with SEO companies or have an SEO department if they are big enough. It generally involves a lot of things which are not specific to search engines.

To make it more clear, SEO companies are not marketing companies. They're filled with technical people who track search engines very carefully and ensure that they very very clear on all the latest ranking techniques and rules.

I like to work with SEO companies sometimes because they're usually pretty hands off and I'm not crazy about handing over precious business rules.

ogletree




msg:239829
 9:27 pm on Jul 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

I just don't have time to make my own website. I could spend that time better making another adsense website. I am not trying to be under a radar I just don't want to make a website.

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