Archive for April 20th, 2011


Bad SEO Providers: 5 Red Flags

Search Engine Submissions

If you hear the words “We’ll submit your website to thousands of search engines,” run away, very fast. This is a marketing hook that’s been employed by unscrupulous “SEO” snake-oil salesmen since the turn of the millennium. For one thing, there are only 3 or 4 search engines that you should give a crap about. And none of them need to be submitted to—if they can’t find your site on their own, you didn’t build it right. Now, submitting an XML sitemap is another matter entirely, and something a legitimate SEO might offer.

Link Exchanges

Here’s what the SEO scam artist might say: “We can get you into 3, 4 and even 5-way link exchanges!” What they mean is “We link all of our clients to each other (even though there is no relevancy there) and then we link everybody to us, which helps us sell this crappy scheme to more people like you.” A legitimate link exchange between sites in a related topic space is fine. Convoluted tactics intended to fool search engines into thinking links are not reciprocated is not. Google, at least, is not that dumb.

Context Links

Some SEOs will offer you “thousands of context links in blogs.” What they mean is, “we’ll troll the internet leaving stupid and overtly spammy comments (like “Loved your post! Check out the great deals on Viagra at!) on blogs of every kind, on topics from dog bathing, to politics, to fashion, sports, and whatever else. This, to me, is very nasty. They are happy to drop these turds anywhere at all and the result is starting to stink up the whole net. Unfortunately, this kind of works—it’s what JC Penny’s SEO was doing to great success. Of course, they got caught, and spanked pretty hard. (On the positive side, most blogging platforms now have a spam detection service built in. This particular plague will be past us soon.)

Landing Pages

A landing page is a page designed specifically to attract search, or to convert a sale that originated in search or an online ad. As a marketing tactic, here is a legitimate search marketing role for landing pages—as long as they contain useful information and serve a purpose other than amusing every wandering search spider that stumbles in. Rotten SEOs will sometimes offer a plan to create hundreds—or even thousands—of pages that are designed to appeal to no one but spiders. These are usually seriously lacking in content other than keywords, and often pretty much all the same with just variations of the keywords. Having a bunch of these pages does nothing for the internet user, nothing for your website, and nothing for your business. And Google really really hates it. And will really really catch you and hurt you.

Telemarketing or Email Solicitation

Ever get one of those calls “Hi, my name is Aaron, and I can get you top ranks for great keywords!” Or how about that email “Re.: Get Rich with Free Search Engine Customers!” A quality SEO provider will not need to resort to mass marketing and/or spam to find clients. If they’re good at what they do, and they’ve been at it a while, word of mouth will get them plenty of work. Otherwise, a reputable SEO will identify prospective clients, analyze their needs, and then contact them personally.  It really doesn’t do me any good to sell you a service you don’t need. It doesn’t do you any good and it doesn’t do the internet marketing industry any good. If your website could use some search marketing help, I’m happy to provide it.