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Search Engine Optimization - worth it?

 11:26 am on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hello all

I have stumbled across this forum, and being honest I am extremely glad that I did. I am also new, so please be gentle with me! :)

Basically my problem is this...

I have had various Search Engine Optimization companies contact me, with regard to my website and general marketing of it which I am interested in pursuing.

Having read a few posts on this forum I have noticed that I have made quite a few mistakes in the past with some of the Pay Per Click system(s) that I am currently using/used.

I have tried Lycos Premium Links, which produce virtually nothing, <snip> charged me a fortune and I had nothing back, I've tried espotting and overture, which both worked well but were expensive. So at the moment my only means of online advertising/promotion is Google Adwords which is keeping my head above the water.

I am currently only receiving about 100 visits (from individual IPs) per day, on average about 2,400 visits a month and having read some other posts I see a significantly larger number than what I am receiving.

So my question is this - where am I going wrong? there is content on the website, in a fairly competitive market - obviously I want to market my website in the most effective means - Adwords is currently costing me about <snip> a month, I am concerned that if I pay one of these Search Engine Optimization companies that contacted me that I will still not receive the results I would like to achieve and blow yet another 800 of my hard earned money :(

You lot appear to know your stuff, so any advice would be very much appreciated! :)

Thanks in advance


[edited by: engine at 11:34 am (utc) on Dec. 18, 2003]
[edit reason] specifics removed to protect the innocent. ;) [/edit]



 11:34 am on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well if you've more time than money, you've found the right place to learn how to get the basics right yourself.


 11:34 am on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Depending on what market you're in there are some UK companies that offer deals that where you only pay for traffic received. IE Pay for Performace. - Some will only charge you when they have acheived results for you.


 11:35 am on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Others around here who want to sell you their services may not agree, but I believe you don't need an SEO company.

If you are willing to spend some time around here reading through (most notably the Google News Forum), you can learn what changes you need to make. Essentially do your own SEO.

If you are not willing to spend the time reading and putting into practice what you learn, hiring someone may be worth it. I will say what I have picked up here has made me over $1000US, not sure how that converts to Pounds but figure I'm in the ballpark you mention.

I say do it yourself. If you don't want to do that, be very careful who you choose, as there are a lot of "scammers" out their who may get you traffic through schemes that may backfire in the long run.

<edit>I almost forgot! Welcome to WebMasterWorld!</edit>


 11:41 am on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld.

Many of the companies that market themselves with telephone calls are selling an advertising scheme or another.

Your post title askes about SEO (search engine optimisation) yet the work you've indicated is SEM (search engine marketing).

SEO is most definately worth it.
SEM is worth it, when managed well.

Take a look around all the forums here and see the hot topics. Read and study the professionals here to become one yourself or, if you want to keep your focus on running your business, consider engaging an agent to handle the SEO & SEM for you.



 11:53 am on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

WOW! thanks for the really prompt replies.

Sorry, I am not 100% sure with the difference between SEO and SEM, my current website is in the design and print sector, it would be nice to get it listed on the first page of the natural listings.

Other than how I am advertising at the moment, I have no idea how I can increase traffic to my site - is 2,500 particularly low? One SEO company that contacted me said that there were over 8000 individual hits for just one keyword last month, so I know that I am doing something wrong somewhere...

I had the site designed for me, but now editing it myself - I have no idea how to optimise it, as my knowledge of web design/HTML etc is extremely basic. I have the time, and the ambition to get this to work, and I'm happy to hear any suggestions you might have.

For obvious reasons (i.e advertising) I am not going to post the URL here, but if anyone is interested in seeing what they think, or what could be changed it would be very much appreciated.

Once again, many thanks for the prompt replies :)



 12:42 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi Chris,

I beleive that

  • SEO is the tweaking of your html code and the optimisation of your page content (kwd density and that kind of stuff)

  • SEM encompasses SEO and also covers the se and directory listing, link exchange request, email marketing, viral marketing, banner exchange ...

    With a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS you can tweak your pages yourself if you have the right tool (notepad is good enough). If you have questions about HTML or CSS there are forums here, that cover this in details. For the SEO and SEM again forums are available.

    I didn't know anything about SEO before finding this forum and after a couple of months reading, asking and testing I got some nice results, therefore if you put your mind to it you can achieve what you want because the knowledge is flowing in these forums.

    It's up to you to weight if the 800 worth of your time will be enough for you to get good results, but if you are not in a hurry I would also think that the more you learn the better you will be prepared if one day you decide to try one of these company.


  • mortice

     12:50 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)


    well a known company have contacted me, and agreed a 6 month package for me at 375 plus VAT where they guarantee a top 5 listing in all of the major search engines. I asked how they are going to do this, and apparently only need the URL and my money - I am just worried that I will be making a mistake as I really could do without spending out more with no return (made too many mistakes)

    what do you lot think about that? should I go for it? (it's OK I will not hold anyone responsible, just looking for advice from people that know a bit more than me!)


    [edited by: DaveN at 8:12 am (utc) on Dec. 19, 2003]
    [edit reason] specifics [/edit]


     1:08 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Mortice, you might want to edit out the specifics in your last post.

    The questions you should be asking are:

    What constitutes a 'major engine'?

    Are these Google, MSN etc., or is the list padded out with engines you've never heard of.

    What constitutes a 'top 5 listing'?

    On how many engines and for how long - on every engine every hour of the entire six months, or for five minutes one day on one engine you've never heard of?
    For whose keywords - their suggestions or yours?
    Paid listing (i.e. advertising) or regular search engine listing?

    What constitutes a 'guarantee'?

    Your money back no questions asked, or another six month's free work?

    There are way too many loopholes in statements like this. No one can guarantee the actions of a third party (search engine) if they don't control the ranking algorithm.

    Some may feel confident enough to play the odds and offer a proper guarantee, but I'd expect them to be asking for more than the quoted price if they were that good.

    And you've always got to remember that it's not about rankings, it's not about volume of traffic, but it's about sales.


     1:09 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    well a company called [company x] have contacted me, and agreed a 6 month package for me at 375 plus VAT where they guarantee a top 5 listing in all of the major search engines. I asked how they are going to do this, and apparently only need the URL and my money - I am just worried that I will be making a mistake as I really could do without spending out more with no return (made too many mistakes)

    This company may use your URL to promote your site via sponsored listings (PPC) which is great in itself. This way they can guarantee top listings as long as you have the funds to support it.

    They may try and set up doorway pages to promote your site. Doorway pages are frowned upon by Google and other search engines.

    To properly optimise your website for the search engines you need to make changes to things like the title and body of each webpage. Also, you need to collect decent incoming links. This takes time and/or money.

    I seriously doubt that you would get much for the 375 over 6 months. My advice would be to hire a quality SEO who would charge a lot more than this, but would be able to get you quality long-term results. Alternatively, spend a lot of time here and learn how to optimise your website yourself.


     1:22 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Interesting replies, I am SOOOOO glad I found this site!

    I will forward all of the questions put to me from yourselves to the sales representive by email and see what his reply is to me

    I have to admit that it did seem too good to be true, and from experience I am now thinking is probably is.

    I know that traffic is not necessarily a direct link to sales, but if I base the conversion rate I am getting now as a percentage I am hoping that *perhaps* with more traffic it should generate slightly more work

    Plus if I can get a higher listing on the natural listings it will benefit me, as I am only listed on Adwords and Ask Jeeves (other than the affiliate companies)

    Thanks loads for all your advice so far, it's nice to speak to people that know what they are talking about (this was my secret weapon) :)



     3:38 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    OK here is what has been said:

    1. What constitutes a 'top 5 listing'?
    - basically the sales rep has said that it will be within the first 5 listings on the left hand side as you do a search for the particular keyword

    2. On how many engines and for how long - on every engine every hour of the entire six months?
    or for five minutes one day on one engine I've never heard of?
    - apparently all search engines, every second, minute, hour etc - I asked if I keep refreshing would I still be there and he said that I would.

    3. For whose keywords - your suggestions or mine?
    - initially their suggestions, but after 6 weeks I can change them as often as I like.

    4. Paid listing? (i.e. advertising) or regular search engine listing?
    - Regular search engine listing

    5. What constitutes a 'guarantee'? - Money back no questions asked? or another six month's free work?
    - full money back guarantee if I am not in the top 5 during the 6 month period.

    So? what do you guys think? The cost does go up in the 2nd year, (the first year is 750 quid, then second year is 1200 odd) - I arranged a 6 month trial split between me and another company (apparently)

    Thanks for all the help so far :)



     3:55 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    I would suggest any SEO firm who "promises" a top 5 listing is a little less than a fully legitimate SEO firm. I would not trust them with my business. That being said, I'd like to hear what others think about this.


     3:59 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    "but after 6 weeks I can change them as often as I like"

    Smells like a scam to me.

    One other option that sem4u didn't mention is the browser hack one, where to see the search results you have to add a 'plug-in' to your browser.

    If you're set on going ahead, at least get a list of satisfied customers off them and get in contact with a few.


     4:02 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Still sounds fishy to me.

    Just to make sure ask to see a panel of various site they have optimised. Check their results in the search engines (all of them sites and search engines) check the number of total results (ie no 1 of about this number the higher this number is the better they should be) also check that the keywords are actually used by people (ie use the Overture keyword checking tool, or the addwords contrepart), and finally ask them if you can call some of their customers.

    If you decide to go for it make sure that in the contract everything is written black on white.

    Hope this help



     4:02 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Thanks for the advice all

    I will take your judgement and decline the offer, I've been stung too many times in the past and I don't fancy forking out MORE money right now for something that is not going to benefit me.

    Are there any other ways of increasing traffic to my site that I could easily do? (given my limited knowledge of website design etc)




     4:22 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)


    Yes there are. You could do link exchange, make sure you are listed in DMOZ and other direcoty. Check some specific designer and printer directories, try an email campaign ... and definitly check this forums:




     4:26 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    What can I add - but "If it sounds too good to be true then it is".

    The print and design sector is quite tough, but content seems to do well. However, a good strategy is NOT to concentrate on single phrases, but on generating a broad amount of traffic from many different phrases. This spreads your risk.

    What you are hoping for is to be on the first page of Google for "print design" for 375, but let's look at that... Google returns 7,180,000 (and that is UK centric), which - if 1 in 1000 of those want the same thing, that is over 7,000 pages seriously fighting for that top 10 spot.

    So - how solid do you think the guarantee is going to be?

    But don't give up hope - just plan a safer strategy. Search engine marleting is very worthwhile, just like the Yellow Pages was before the Internet.


     4:35 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    well, the sales rep just phoned back - got quite frustrated when I told him that I was going to decline - I think that was a good sign that I shouldn't have gone ahead - thanks for helping me avoid a mistake! :)

    I think I am going to hang around these forums, try and digest some information as I feel that it could very much help me - just like you lot have today (many thanks)

    I wish there was an easy way - it appears that there never is! :)



     4:42 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    If you're hanging around you'll need somewhere to start. Although it's aged a bit, Brett's Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone still covers most bases:


    Then try the 'library' link at the top of the page.


     4:55 pm on Dec 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Many thanks m8 - I'll take a look

    off home in a minute, so will not be able to reply until tomorrow :)

    thanks for all the help so far...



     8:25 am on Dec 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

    People often ask the question is getting in touch with and SEO company worth it.

    It really depends on two things your ability and time.

    Ability, get to #1 of a non competitive term it easy to achieve, the Right Title and H1 tags will go along way a couple of good inbound text links will also help, But for the competitive keywords you need a specialist.

    Time, I have seen many a business go bust because the owner as spent so much time in trying to get the site ranked high they forgot to actually run their business, if you work full time running you website and business, how are you going to replace the lost time while doing SEO, It's not a quick process or magic trick.


    you may be willing to change a tyre on your car but would you strip and rebuild your car engine if you needed the car in a 2 weeks time.

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