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|You May Still Be Better Off Doing Your Own SEO|
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.
All too true ;(
The field of "SEO consultants" has become a kind of boomtown, and many such folks get stuck in past years approaches, automated cookie cutter boilerplate and the like. In fact, the number of people doing their own SEO research seems to me to be relatively low these days - nothing like ten years ago.
You can definitely be your own best friend by staying informed, even if you do farm out the actual work.
Sadly yes. :(
I took over the SEO work for an agency last year who's previous supplier basically sold them keyword research and title tag optimisation (bad "optimisation" - just listing keywords) as being "SEO services". The sad thing is that the agency (design agency) didn't know any better and were also reselling this service to clients.
The problem is that the demand is there, so anyone in a related business (web design, graphic design, development, marketing) will be asked for SEO often enough by clients for them to think they should be doing it themselves. Partnering with a decent provider is the sensible move but most (particularly tech focused suppliers) choose to do it themselves.
In a way, the recent Google updates are actually a good thing - if you look back to the regular monthly updates of the 2002/3 era, it really sorted out the men from the boys, but the subsequent relative calm and growth of SEO in many ways just allowed people to offer services with very little understanding of what they are doing.
To this day I bet there are loads of "SEOs" who think title tags should be a place to list keywords and not the *actual* title of the document. This leads on to the whole "but, but, but I did "ethical SEO" so why have I been banned?" chat...
The SEO people who know what they are doing? They won't cold call you, they won't respond to ads. Actually many of them don't need to advertise and in some cases there's a waiting list because (just by word of mouth) they're in full demand.
If you need professional help, your best bet is to hit some of the better known, reputable search blogs and forums, read up and see who seems to know what they're talking about, and approach them that way. If they can't help you, often they'll give you a good referral to someone else (reputable) who can. At that level, there's not a lot of fighting over business, because there's enough for everyone. So people are happy to refer.
There definitely are some basic rules that SEO companies can help you with if your site is very badly designed. Beyond that, SEO is now a myth in my opinion.
You, as designer of your site, are in the best position to SEO it. Look at where your site pages appear in the SERPS, compare it to those above and below you and do it every day for a month.
That way you will have the best knowledge about how to SEO your particular site. When you have SEO'd it and it rises in the SERPS, be prepared for it to fall again. The Google algo changes daily and major impacts occur monthly.
There are no "secret" SEO companies out there, keeping a low profile, which they have clients queueing up to use them. It's part of the myth. If you want it done well then do it yourself.
|There are no "secret" SEO companies out there, keeping a low profile, which they have clients queueing up to use them. It's part of the myth. |
Not what I said.
|Beyond that, SEO is now a myth in my opinion. |
I don't see it as being a myth.
some keywords I rank on the first page along with either VERY well branded sites (wikipedia, ehow, about, amazon) or sites that are HEAVILY reliant on spammy backlinks (paid directories, blog comments, forum signatures, etc.,).
so in essence I am the ONLY small biz site on there that HASN'T used backlink manipulation to rank on page 1 for those particular keywords.
It CAN be done if you focus on what your users would want (and probably what most users want is a clear value proposition). Having content that spurs controversy doesn't hurt, either.
Having said that, I still see really spammy sites still ranking, so that appears to still be a viable option for those who are willing to accept the risks.
|Beyond that, SEO is now a myth in my opinion. |
SEO is not a myth. As long as there are organic results, there will be SEO. The problem now is that Google's ad section takes up almost the full top fold. For the majority of my searches, I have to scroll down to organic results.
That doesn't make SEO unimportant. Just SEM more so.
SEO is not a myth, there are indeed things that you can control to impress a computer based algorithm directly or indirectly. Google is proactively seeking ways to limit how much influence a webmaster can have on the rankings however as long as there is a computer algorithm weighing signals there will be SEO.
Just don't forget about the human factor because no matter how much the search company touts their algorithms they fall back on human evaluators more heavily than they will ever admit.
Netmeg is right, if you're good at your craft business will find you. The better SEO firms will also find you. If you can't beat em, sign em up.
I normally don't do SEO for clients and on the rare occasion they seek me out and convince me to, I make sure they sign an iron clad agreement that states " I guarantee nothing, other than I will do what has worked for me since I started doing it." No first page, nothing,.. That way, when crazy things happen as they do from time to time for no reason, I can say that's why I don't guarantee anything as far as SEO goes.
SEO is not the rocket science many make it out to be.
I really love when people call me and offer SEO services. I have a lot of fun with those calls :)
|The Shower Scene|
|...have absolutely no idea what they are doing. |
In light of the fact that you burned your own site/s, are you better off doing your own SEO?
When the mediocre cannot rise above their peers, they turn to the tactic of pushing others down. Your criticism of third party SEOs does not diminish the fact that it was your own lack of expertise and poor choices that damaged the rankings of your own sites.
Belittling others does not improve your skill or expertise, however much superior it might make you feel. ;)
|The majority of such ventures end up in refunds. (You just need to word your Paypal dispute wisely!) |
While I don't disagree with you, trolling their services knowing you'll probably do a chargeback just isn't right IMO. It's not like people aren't having enough trouble making money these days thanks to Google shuffling things all the time without having someone deliberately waste their time. Also, chargebacks damage someone's merchant account credit profile and too many of them can result in funds (many thousands) being withheld which can wreck a business so hopefully you request a refund before just doing a chargeback.
Regardless of their ineptitude, who's to say they don't actually help some sites, just not yours as even a bad mechanic can probably fix a flat tire.
Not that I'm defending them, I think quite a few of the SEO businesses out there wouldn't even exist if they had to take a simple competency test just to be in business. Like a site I ran across the other day that had "revisit after" meta tags in their checklist of features, almost fell off my chair. However, the try it and chargeback approach is just not cool under any circumstances.
I would only use services that come with personal recommendations, highly rated by reputable sites, or those that actually offer a money-back guarantee because they think they can deliver and they're obviously prepared for the possibility of a chargeback.
Just consider your wisely worded Paypal could put little kids out on the street the next time you play that game is all I'm saying, not cool.
People use the term SEO professional/company too liberally these days. Anyone who knows what a title tag these days is pretty much considered a SEO consultant.
Like I mentioned in a previous post, I hired one of the so called "top seo companies" for 2 months and was extremely disappointed. Their efforts were a complete disgrace to the profession and I could have received better results hiring a directory submitter who uses an automated program.
They failed to follow my specific guidelines of what I wanted them to do and then tried to make me feel like I am the one who doesnt know what they are doing. They actually said "Sir, I think you should leave this to the professionals, hats why you pay us".
People are focusing on all the wrong things. Every client I get blames their troubles on back links. This is because they read this everywhere on every SEO blog/forum. The words backlinks, meta tags, title tags, keyword stuffing etc are put into their head and most of it is inaccurate.
You want to know real SEO? You want to really see whats wrong with your site? Get about a half a dozen people who shop online and browse the internet frequently. Sit them down and have them look at your site and have them give their honest option by asking a series of questions such as "would you buy something from this site? If no, why not?"
That is when you will start getting real answers to your troubles. If you seek out a so called SEO company, they will just submit you to a million link and article directories, spam your link on user profile pages and stuff your content with crap that is not useful to your users so even if you do end up ranking, nobody will stay on your site long enough to convert to anything.
Hire a solid internet marketing company with solid usability testing and they will better take care of your site. I do not call myself an SEO person anymore because the term is so loosely used and I do not want to be associated with that term anymore.
I am an internet marketing professional.
Some of us keep saying this, since waaay before Panda and during it, and after :)..we are not like our visitors, we are not typical searchers or shoppers..
Watch someone who does not know what we know move around and interact with a typical site .and you'll be amazed / horrified..Then get someone again a ( genuinely typical surfer ) else to do the same thing again..rinse and repeat..Don't prompt them..just shut up and watch and learn..
Pay some / all of them for their time..
Try and get those who are within your target market /age range / group..
Don't just set them up to surf your site, watch how they are with other sites, watch how they search, even watch how they interact on facebook etc ( if social is important to you )..yes the latter is harder to set up, but be inventive..
Seems like I post this about every six months or so..basically the same things, along with brinked , netmeg, and a few others..
Your visitor isn't you, make it easy for them to get to what you want them to see, to go where you want them to go, and to do what you want them to do..watch how they do it..don't ask them just watch them..some of them will just do weird stuff any way..you might be able to use it or what it shows you..
This kind of user testing (even done informally without a usability lab, eye-tracking software, video cameras, etc) is so valuable that I'd venture to say EVERY site owner should take a stab at it of some kind. One half hour should generate at least a couple weeks of upgrade work for most sites.
This is why I so highly value (and pay big bucks for) Jakob Nielsen's published studies - they are not just his "ideas". They are the results of his consulting firm's rigorous tests with very real, ordinary users. For those who don't yet know Jakob - get going! He was a key player at Sun Microsystems in developing the human/computer interface. And his no-frills website at UseIt.com [useit.com] is a true gem.
If you don't feel you can afford the cost of his full testing reports, then at least spring for his awesome book, Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed. It lists for $50 but you can find deep discounts. That one book will make you thousands!
PS - Jakob was a celebrity site owner who once received a well-publicized Google penalty
for hidden content and keyword stuffing. He was just trying to get all the misspellings
of his own name onto the page.
With all due respect to you internetheaven your post seems to raise more questions than it answers. Specifically you said
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:
Where on earth did you "place an ad" ?
It "feels" like you have specifically targetted low cost, low quality organisations that are likely to be based in geographically disperse locations via aggregation sites such as fiverr, oDesk etc.
If this is the case then you aren't getting true SEO advice from true SEOs.
Can you clarify this point please?
There's a company I use for usertesting (hint - google usertesting) where it costs as little as $30 to get a short screen-video of someone trying to accomplish a task on your site. I've run these for clients who were shocked at some of the results. One said to me "I kept wanting to push his mouse over to the right spot!"
That's how you know you still have work to do.
I believe it's flat out impossible to be completely objective and impartial about our websites, no matter how much we want to be. They're like our children. You NEED user perspective.
(But this is veering off SEO and into usability)
It's about time Google put in place an SEO accreditation system for SEO's, perhaps though WMT. Then they would know the quality of the community they were working with.
Do bad things, spam , bad work and you're accreditation is revoked. On top of that SEO's could be rated by their customers openly.
That would still leave room for Google to play it's "secret-soup" card, but would help clean up the "cess-pool" described by Eric Schmidt.
Sorry, there's way too many problems with that idea Whitey.
Also, I consider myself to be a highly ethical SEO and even one of the pioneers of the discipline since I began in the mid-90s - but I don't want any "accreditation" from Google or anyone else, thank you very much.
Agree with Ted..and I don't do* SEO for others..I can't believe that anyone who does do successful ethical SEO for others would want to be "Google approved"..
Mathew 6.24 is just one of the reasons for "WOW that came right out of left field and won't ever fly"..
and who would trust a "double agent"..and "hitching your wagon to just one star"..etc ..
Google is only the "be all and end all" of search that you allow them to be.."Registered SEO's" working only to a Google "rulebook" would kill any innovation in the field..and weld the shackles of "do it the plex's way" around all SEO's..
I doubt even G would be in favour ..but don't give them ideas :)
*very rarely.. too busy with my own stuff
|You May Still Be Better Off Doing Your Own SEO |
I still learn a lot from successful websites' owners. They are the best SEOers out there. When I stumble upon such websites, I can see that they are on the right wave.
See it that way: If one has the quality, s/he wouldn't sell it.
They better use their SEO knowledge to develop own websites.
That's what I am doing.
|Also, I consider myself to be a highly ethical SEO and even one of the pioneers of the discipline since I began in the mid-90s - but I don't want any "accreditation" from Google or anyone else, thank you very much. |
Well said. I agree completely.
There are really only so many very qualified SEO Consultants in the world. There is also a huge difference between paper knowledge and real-life experience in high competition verticals in SEO.
Any company that gives you a cookie cutter response, a defined number of links to build per month, or doesn't build links to boost your brand (for example content marketing) might do much more harm that good.
There are no qualified SEO experts out there. SEO is nothing more than trial and error, for each site. You try something, if it works then great - stick it on your site as part of your portfolio. If it doesn't work you try the next thing until it does. Anyone who says they can get results every time, for every site, are just kidding themselves. Now moreso than ever.
There are no SEO experts. There are people who are willing to put time and effort into trial and error and people who aren't as willing.
I'm sure their are some well qualified, high caliber "SEO" companies out there - and I mean no disrespect to any of them, but I would never let an outside entity "optimize" a site I owned.
The inherent conflict of interest is to great, and the risk/reward formula is worse than playing the lottery.
If you want to improve your site, and are willing to pay money to do that, you would be much better served involving an expert in site architecture, hiring a really good Graphic Designer, and spending 30 minutes a day right here.
|If you want to improve your site, and are willing to pay money to do that, you would be much better served involving an expert in site architecture, hiring a really good Graphic Designer, and spending 30 minutes a day right here. |
Couldn't agree more, if only to understand how relatively experienced, well informed people can vehemently disagree with each other.
OTOH, if you really have no clue, an "SEO consultant" or "site review" might be worthwhile, though probably on the basis netmeg suggested rather than putting out to tender.
randle - as a business owner, manufacturer, designer, online marketing manager, finance director, production assistant, customer care operative, fashion photographer...... i have enough on my plate!
In a team of 6 staff, handling all the SEO in house would be impossible... some companies need to outsource
(we do do a bit inhouse (social media and link building) but not enough to be competitive)
|In a team of 6 staff, handling all the SEO in house would be impossible... some companies need to outsource |
I appreciate that - and I certainly understand the need for these services.
The question I have is, what exactly does an "SEO" company bring to the table these days? What insight do they have into the inevitable algorithmic changes coming down the pipe?
|The question I have is, what exactly does an "SEO" company bring to the table these days? |
The question I have is, what does your question mean? Are you talking in general? The question can't be answered in general because it depends on the specifics of the individual. See:
|The question I have is, what exactly does (tedster) bring to the table these days? |
Obviously tedster brings decades of experience in business and marketing, not just online but offline too.
Or try this:
|The question I have is, what exactly does (a spam from a gmail address) bring to the table these days? |
Your question can't be answered in a general manner. There are a number of consultants/members here who have a wealth of insight into what works long term, what Penguin is going after, etc. that was gained from years of hands-on experience working with clients and experimentation. There are a number of consultants, some who even present at conferences, who have zero experience working on websites of their own and who learned their craft from reading blogs, whose grasp of the craft is shaky. Then there are those who are in the top tier who are like human encyclopedias of the craft, who can surprise you with interesting solutions or insights to common problems. It all depends on the individual so your question cannot be answered in aggregate to encompass every individual.
if you read the stuff by danny sullivan (who i suppose we can all agree is an SEO expert), there's not a lot of concrete stuff there.
He very rarely says "do this and you will jump up the SERPS". its all best guesses.
look at his most recent quote about penguin -- "Is Penguin a site-wide penalty like Panda or page-specific? ...Given that Panda has site-wide impacts, I think it's a fair assumption that Penguin works the same."
A fair assumption? So even he hasn't got a clue!
Here is his 4-step "expert" advice...
-- Clean up on-page spam you know you've done
-- Clean up bad links you know you're been involved with, as best you can
-- Wait for news of a future Penguin Update and see if you recover after it happens
-- If it doesn't, try further cleaning or consider starting over with a fresh site
so, to summarise... clean up spammy stuff and see what happens. if it doesn't do anything then try doing it again or just give up and start again.
im not knocking danny sullivan, because i read all his stuff. but that is the truth about SEO experts... if someone as clued up as him doesn't have anything concrete to tell you then no one does.
leaving the obvious stuff aside (like adding <h1>s, good titles, and attracting trustworthy backlinks, blah blah blah) its all best guesses.
| This 46 message thread spans 2 pages: 46 (  2 ) > > |