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You May Still Be Better Off Doing Your Own SEO

 9:32 am on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

I regularly test out offerings from SEO companies to see what they are doing. The majority of such ventures end up in refunds. (You just need to word your Paypal dispute wisely!)

Anyway. On the 27th of April I put up an ad stating the web address of one of my affected websites. I said I'd lost my rankings on the 24th, that I didn't know why and that I needed an SEO firm to help me. Here are my favourite responses:

"I found no keywords meta tag. The keyword meta tag is still used by some search engines. Consider to add a keyword meta tag."

"Only 5 of your 11 images have keywords in the alt tags. You need to maximize your alt tags."

"We are Experienced SEO and can help you find the cause why google Penalised. On the Comtempary it looks like the Panda Update was Responsible for your Fall."

"Our experts will take in to consideration Google Logic and target only 4 to 5 keywords each page. Our experts smartly integrate keywords in the content based on Google Rule of keyword, Proximity, Density and Frequency."

"I have investigated your website and found your site is still listed in Google but the cached copy of your website is removed. thats the reason it is not ranking in search result for your desire keywords. I will get cached page showing again."

Those were genuine responses from "expert" companies with ratings of 4-5/5 and hundreds of customers singing their praises.

Out of 32 responses to the ad, only 7 firms correctly identified that my website had a spammy link profile and was therefore most likely hit by Penguin considering the date co-incidence.

Just a warning to some of those panicking out there and running to SEO firms. Even the ones listed on third party marketplaces with high rankings and previously good reviews may have absolutely no idea what they are doing.



 6:09 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Danny is a journalist, not an SEO. He writes about the industry, he does not offer specific, step by step advice to webmasters. He has a broad audience, and so by necessity his writing is general rather than specific.

Other than cleaning up technical problems, there is no specific, step by step, actionable advice that you will find on a reputable blog post or white paper. Not that will guarantee results, certainly.

If you are expecting such from an SEO who has never looked at your site, your niche, or your competitors, then your expectations are at the very least, unrealistic.

SEO has progressed far past the point of "If I do this, this and that for on page, and that, that and this for off page, I will rank" It's not even really SEO anymore, it's just part of the entire marketing effort. There's no laundry list of items you can check off to get clear of a Penguin or Panda or unnatural link notice or whatever.

But regardless of whether or not you believe in SEO, or the people who practice it, the choice of whether or not to hire one is yours. If you think it's all smoke and mirrors, that's fine.


 6:23 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

...leaving the obvious stuff aside (like adding <h1>s, good titles, and attracting trustworthy backlinks, blah blah blah) its all best guesses.

If that WERE true, then I think google would be happy with that; I don't think they want sites to rank well based primarily on following a simple recipe of on page factors.

But I think that there is a lot of truth to the Matt Cutts' mantra of "just build great content."

And I also think that improving usability will make a significant difference.


 8:07 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

SEO has progressed far past the point of "If I do this, this and that for on page, and that, that and this for off page, I will rank" It's not even really SEO anymore, it's just part of the entire marketing effort.

Very nicely put. Its no longer a matter of implementing things other people learned through reverse engineering.

Interent Yogi

 12:44 am on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yeah I have hired and fired many SEO firms in my time. Cookie cutter responses are everywhere.

We "out source" single components of it.

And too play to close to the "rules" you might find that you are getting hammered bye those that "really" know how to bend them.

I just had a guy on the phone giving me a sales pitch and ask him why his site was only PR 3 he said " whats PR? LOL I said get back to me when you have an Answer for Penguin. (which confused the hell out of him, it took about 5 goes to even get the word.)

internetheaven I like that methodology. Give them the facts and vet the answers from that. If they don't pick up the 24 th April ( which was not the greatest day for a couple of my sites.) then move on.

You have to have at least a base knowledge to be able to even ID someone whom can help.

I'm looking now and its not easy. As soon as you mention you have been doing SEO for many years they tend to move on.


 1:21 am on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Why are you people even discussing SEO when so many MFA/scrapers dominate?

In my widget sector, ripped-off old-style stuff reigns supreme or even better, have an Alibaba-style Chinese or Indian directory site with loads of genuine, but company-submitted link pages, and then their sites rule.

Google has not a clue...Bing seems to mostly at the moment...but to answer the orignal post, "Why would you trust anyone you did not know?"

Honestly, I hear the biggest amount of BS in bars every night regarding site construction and optimisation...I've tried, I've tested, I've done, I've discarded, I've proven all of their crap...since 1994!


 3:14 am on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

netmeg, that is a wonderful suggestion. I am going to gather some use cases for one of my sites and try the service out. I could see watching a video of real users interacting with my site help me improve usability tremendously. I could also see this being super useful specially for transactional sites.

I usually wonder what keywords users type in SEs with the intent to perform a specific task. Is there a better way to find out other than using this service?


 11:06 am on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Internetheaven to answer the OP. Lets say I put an ad out for needing a plumber, yard help, roofer it doesn't matter your going to get the roaches hitting the fastest. Most of them have referrals they can give you. Only problem they are in on the deal too. You can hardly come to any kind of conclusion from what you did. You got the melting tip of the ice burg and missed the biggest part under the water.

This thread is all over the place I love the ones that say SEO is dead if that's what they think then I assume there sites are sitting at number 999 in the serps.

I am an in-house SEO and I do out source work. There are advantages to have an in-house SEO/SEM. My role now is to supervise all content added, create content, manage adwords, come up with new ideas to develop new revenue streams, and keep all our sites clean. To name a few. A day hardly goes by were I don't get a question from Marketing or Sales asking if they can do this or that. Marketers and Sales have probably done more harm to sites than all SEO's together. These people (not all just mine) have some of the most bizarre ideas, and quite a few of them would cause serious issues in the serps. I proof all PR's, and all content added to our sites. I am in on the design, navigation structure etc. on all new sites we launch. I am the final approval if the page goes live or it goes live in a dissalow folder.

When I joined the company I am with 10 years ago it was an SEO nightmare, but through in-house training our production area has a role in providing a well documented page, good titles and descriptions, and the use of proper linked URL's as so forth. Our pages don't have "click here 4 million times." Graphics knows to optimize images and add descriptive alt tags. I can go on but you get the picture.

I also have clients that just don't want to mess with it, clients that want to learn, and those that know a good foundation in SEO/SEM but need some coaching.

Is one better than the other hard to say but as Ted said. The work he does is the same work he would do if the site was his. I feel the same way as most SEO's, sure there is the other side what industry doesn't have them?

Kind of strange no one has brought up PPC as part of an SEO's job. I just reworked a clients adwords account due to so many low scores they were probably soon to be banned.

SEO is dead Please if that's what ya think go read Dear Abby probably the place ya need to be.


 2:13 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think that, in today's market, searching for help with "SEO" is more than likely to get you those results posted by OP. As tedster discussed, those will be the groups offering outdated services.

Nowadays, I think it's wiser to look for an agency that integrates SEO into more serious marketing services. So, searching for a "web marketing agency" or something along those lines, will be more likely to get you to the companies with a more "mature" approach to SEO.

On in-house vs. outsourced SEO, I think nothing can beat having an in-house SEO or SEO team - all abilities being equal. An in-house can react faster and will have more at stake that your business succeed. I think it can be more difficult to find an in-house that is the right fit versus an outside agency.


 3:23 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Best thing is instead of shouting about SEO companies, Do your own SEO, If you fail, Close your online business and go home. Let Google command your life, be slave and be happy.


 5:35 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

This thread is all over the place I love the ones that say SEO is dead if that's what they think then I assume there sites are sitting at number 999 in the serps.

Wrong! I do my SEO and it costs nothing but my time. I have no SEO training only ten years experience or so in this business.

For the terms I concentrate on my websites don't appear at position "999". They appear on page one of the SERPS - my battle is making them appear higher on page one if they are not at number one already.

The implication of bwnbwn's post is that you can't get to the top of the SERPS without an SEO company. The opposite is true. You can get there with just a modicum of attention to detail, studying why othere are high in the SERPS and a bit of hard work.

Possibly some large sites with high budgets can benefit from SEO companies, but that's more of a result from the incompetence of in-house staff and lack of overall direction form the top.

YOU definitely can do your own SEO better than SEO companies if you put it at the top of your priorities.


 5:41 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

The implication of bwnbwn's post is that you can't get to the top of the SERPS without an SEO company.
nope not at all. I have no formal training I doubt anybody here does, fact is I don't know of a place it is taught. Post were made SEO was dead if it was you I could care less. My POINT being it is far from dead as you stated. I never in my post said one was better than the other I am not an SEO company. If you read my post I do if for our company we are NOT an SEO company end of story.

 5:51 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

SEO is dead

If that were true, then there would be no webspam to tackle. There would be no job security for the webspam team. They could all be released from duty and find other jobs. SEO is alive and well. Read the Google patents, adjust to the changes, create new sites, keep applying new ideas.


 8:41 pm on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

As someone else posted, sounded like you posted an ad on Craigslist or something.

As for top SEO's posting on other sites, blogs, etc... Maybe. Most of the more intelligent SEOs are on here, I can say that. I can also say, some of the best SEO's I've ever met most people have never heard of. I have been to many conferences and can honestly say I've only been impressed by a few "experts" that have been on the panels. Most are just rehashing the same stuff ad nauseum.

Maybe you should PM some people on here that consult and who you think are very insightful. Just a thought. Also keep in mind that good SEO is not cheap.


 2:24 am on Jun 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've been reading with interest, although I don't respond often to be honest, but I think I'd like to weigh in.

Firstly, allow me to say that SEO is certainly not dead, although it does take some finesse and it's something that needs to be done ethically, even if the guys ahead of you aren't. Every SEO with some common sense, knows those stupid tricks. We've played them fairly nicely in order to bury ripoff reports and other things. They aren't things you use on the competition and if you do, you're not only unethical, you aren't too bright. It's like roulette with five bullets.

It's also interesting to me that sites which have a PR3 are not considered to be reasonable SEO providers. I find it quite the opposite actually.

It's very much like the plumber who doesn't ever find the time to do his own pipes. Believe it or not, that exists. It's also a fact that SEO is not cheap if its good.

You can find any hack anywhere who will offer you a good lineup, tell you what you should be doing based on what worked 5 years ago and everyone and anyone who is online today is an SEO expert, just ask them.

I've been in the business for longer than Google.I write online for some top notch websites and I seo them. I bust butt EVERY day to take care of my sites and my customers. I get a new client and review every competitor that they have and find out why they are ranking and the client isn't. That takes time and it takes effort,but most people don't want to pay for it. In many cases,I find that the client isn't ranking because they honestly don't deserve to rank. They don't want to hear that either. It's as much the fault of the clients in many cases as it is of the SEO who is trying diligently (in some cases) to help with their sites.

SEO is a holistic process. The entire site, off page and on page has to be healthy to rank well. Most folks haven't got the content or the links or the on page seo, their navigation is abysmal and they simply don't have what it takes, but most of them do not want to put any money into the site. They want an instant solution.One prospective client asked me last week to give him a 7 day solution to page one. he wanted me to build as many links as fast as I could and he was honestly silly enough to want to pay me for that, and was quite nasty when I said no, thank you. People today don't WANT ethics, they seem to want to PAY you to damage their site. EVERYONE who hires and SEO should know something about SEO. I teach my clients what I can because who wants to work for someone who doesn't understand when you're doing something positive and doesn't notice when you screw it up?

Most clients want a fast and a cheap shortcut to the top. These days there ARE no cheap shortcuts. If you want to pay peanuts, don't b!tch when you can only hire monkeys.

I've been called an "SEO Expert"( :) okay so mostly by people who aren't very tech savvy ) and I correct every single person who uses that stupid phrase. There is no such thing as an SEO expert. The algorithms are changing so rapidly, the internet is changing so dramatically that it takes every ounce of intellect that you have and a couple hours a day of studying algorithms and how they are functioning now, which sites are on top and which are on the bottom , to determine the best path forward for your clients. If someone tells you they are an seo expert, run like hell. There are good seo providers and bad seo providers.. the good ones know they aren't experts at all they are just running faster to catch up.

Lastly, just my humble opinion, social media beats the daylights out of Google every day of the week. I see so much about Google and getting traffic in Google that it makes me wonder why, when Google is such a fickle partner, you're not just fishing where the fish are and using social media more than you are.

I optimize for Google to the essential level and then move on. One client had a friend/SEO expert (cus of COURSE two seos are better than one, particularly if they aren't aware of each other) who very nicely sent them out links in __insert blog link network here__ I didn't know it was happening, had no clue that we had garbage links on the site and when I checked traffic 24 hours after the update it was great, it had actually risen. When I checked Google rankings, it sucked mightily. We've got it back already but clearing some of the links and diluting them slightly , but the real moral of the story is that Google doesn't owe us free traffic.it's time to get out there and make our own.

Happy Sunday


 5:57 pm on Jul 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

SEO is a holistic process.

This phrase has cheered me up no end. Thank you. Amazing how a long week and a bleak perspective can be knocked off-track by something someone else has said in complete earnest - but is just so ... well ...

And then to top it off:

social media beats the daylights out of Google every day of the week

That is a cracker. Really. All the best ladymacbeth.


 7:29 pm on Jul 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wow you dug up this old post just to say that?

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