In evaluating SEO proposals, the hardworking small business owner is often far too trusting, and blissfully unaware of “current best practice.” Instead, they accept the salesman’s assurances, and award their trust… They remain optimistic that their faith will be rewarded by an ethical approach to a complex task, and that a return on their SEO project investment will be delivered.
“Above all, clients take it as a “given” that the work that will be done will be in compliance with the rules in Google and Bing webmaster guidelines and terms of service.”
Sadly, that faith is often not rewarded… On a project I did for a Christchurch client in September 2016, the owner explained that the company had employed 3 different NZ SEO companies in 4 years.
- When I audited the website, it was painfully apparent that zero editing of text content or keyword research had been done by anyone employed to sort out their SEO shortcomings…
- When I edited the incoming link profile, there were scores of links from shoddy blogs and social bookmarking sites. Those links were rife with exact-match keywords in anchor text inserted at random in what was either computer-generated garbage content, or written by school child just learning English…
Evaluating Proposed SEO Remedial Work
It is very important to bear in mind that the SEO industry is rife with self-styled “experts” who focus on pushy unsolicited marketing strategies and endless email sales campaigns. Their focus is on the money – signing clients up to multi-month contracts. Their SEO strategy is invariably some type of link-building scheme – usually based on their own “Private Blog Networks” or a variation thereof.
Link schemes may give you a quick (but short term) ranking benefit. However, they also place you in flagrant breach of Google’s Terms of Service – which explicitly prohibits participation in link building to artificially boost ranking.
When you evaluate SEO project quotations, look for the proposed methodology;
- Does the proposal contain a link-building component? Read what Google says: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356
- Does the proposal explicitly outline the text content changes that will be made on the website content?
The correct answer to 1.) above is NO
The correct answer to 2.) above is YES
Anyone who does not answer both questions correctly is definitely not a professional SEO consultant operating in an ethical manner in compliance with Googles Webmaster Guidelines & Terms of Service…
Quick-fix ranking schemes are fraught with peril, and link schemes are not too difficult to detect.
Google records and analyses details such as, but not limited to;
- Link acquisition date – when it was first found
- Link acquisition rate – how many links in what time frame
- Volume of use of exact-match keywords in anchor text
- The quality of the linking domain
- The percentage of links to internal pages and the anchor texts used
- The relevance of the linking domain, and the page the link is on
- Variations from the “normal link profile” in your site’s genre
Google penalties are severe and applied with ruthless precision.
A reputable and experienced SEO Consultant will explain how refining your website content to accurately target appropriate keywords on every page improves rankings. He or she will retain a record of old Titles & Descriptions and write new ones that target a primary keyword phrase for the page… Every possible image will have accurate Alt tags written. Poorly named pages will be renamed and 301 Redirection put in place. Internal linking structure will be addressed, with keyword-rich anchor text links between important pages inserted into content…
Carefully evaluating SEO proposals requires more than picking an option based on price… A comprehensive proposal should NOT be a computer-generated superficial review. It should be;
- a thorough website audit that examines all aspects of how your website functions
- explains where the issues lie
- and outlines a plan of remedial action to resolve all possible problems.
It should cover everything from page load speeds to hosting location, image Alt texts to Titles. Word count, URL structure, mobile-responsive design and navigation etc must all be assessed. Presence or absence of robots.txt, XML & HTML sitemaps. custom error pages should be noted…
If any SEO proposal is missing those elements, its a safe bet that the author does not actually have your best interests at heart.