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Guaranteed SEO & Other Warning Signs

If you are considering a search engine optimization campaign feel free to contact us and we will gladly evaluate what is being offered. We are not affraid of competition. We are not the only SEO company that offers high quality services, and we will gladly help you winnow the wheat from the chaff. In the mean time, use the below SEO shopping guide.

When shopping for SEO services, there are things for which one needs to look out, in order to avoid learning an expensive lesson.

Refusal to discuss keywords and do preliminary research before the signing of the contract

Some companies will refuse to do any work to earn your business. Resistance to developing a preliminary list of keywords is a good indication that the competitiveness of the keyword list will most likely be skewed in the favor of the search engine optimization company.

Guaranteed ranking offers

This is always a marketing ploy. No search engine optimization company can offer guaranteed results. An educated estimation about the outcome of the work proposed can certainly be made, however. Some guarantees offer a certain number of top 10 results across all major search engines. In such cases 'Major Search Engines' usually contain search engines which are nothing more than minor web portals (e.g. Excite, HotBot). Such guarantees will never cover a specific keyword, but will instead talk about rankings based on a list of 30 or more keywords. So for all you know, you could be ranking for the low end keywords, which will make the guarantee meaningless. Let's look at an example.

The client has signed up for an optimization campaign which will target 30 keywords, and the guarantee offered through the contract promises 20 top 10 results in the major search engines within six months of the campaign commencement. Let's also assume that the search engines being covered by the guarantee only include the three leading search providers: Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Now let's look at some numbers.

Number of top 10 positions available (all three engines combined): 30
Number of keywords in the SEO campaign: 30
Number of top 10 positions X Number of keywords in the campaign = Potential top 10 positions available

So there are 900 possible top 10 rankings from which the SEO company will only need 20 in order to meet the guarantee. That is only 2.22% of the possible ranking opportunities. And that is not much of a guarantee. What is worse is that some of the more unscrupulous guarantee offers count each appearance of a keyword in top 10 results towards the guarantee. For example, if the keyword 'cheap blue wooden widget' appeared in top 10 in two of the engines for five of the six months covered by the guarantee the SEO company counts that as 10 top 10s.

Be very weary of SEO companies that offer guarantees.

Offering large number of links

Quality is better than quantity. SEO campaigns that include a large number of incoming links within a short period of time almost always use unethical and/or low quality linking schemes, such as submissions to a large number of generic directories, forum spam, blog spam, and links from sites that are owned and operated by the SEO company. This is not only problematic for rankings, but is also designed to be used as a threat of loss in incoming links, when the client decides to discontinue service.

To compound the problem, many of the low quality directories are hosted overseas, and receiving the bulk of your links from such directories can and will damage your link profile.

Offering link-exchange as a major component in the linking strategy

Even though link-exchange is not inherently counterproductive, it certainly can be if not done correctly. The problem with most link-exchange campaigns is that they are not well researched, mostly because the work is outsourced to cheap overseas providers.

If done properly, link-exchange can be a helpful (in a small way) addition to a link development campaign; however, this 'service' is usually offered as the only means of link development, and even then it is handled poorly by overseas workers who are paid per link (the more links they get, the more money they make--quantity instead of quality).

Note: There is nothing wrong with an SEO company/service that does not offer a link development component. It is better to not have a link development initiative, than to have one that is going to hurt your ranking potential.

The quoted service price changes (drops) readily and in a significant way to encourage the signing of the contract

There is nothing wrong with offering incentives; however, if the price of the project suddenly drops by 25% (or more--this is obviously an arbitrary percentage. You should be the judge in your specific situation) without any change in the level of services offered, then this should certainly be a point of concern because the original quoted price was obviously inflated by a great margin, or there are corners that will have to be cut to justify the price-drop.

Referring to the high rankings of their own site as proof that they are capable of delivering similar results for the client

There is no logical correlation between the rankings of an SEO company's website and their ability to attain the same type of ranking for their clients. The fallacy perpetrated with this argument is called Affirming the Consequent. The fallacy arises from the logic that If 'A' then 'B'. In this case 'A' is the high rankings of the website of a search engine optimization service provider, and 'B' is the level and quality of service required to attain similar results. Unfortunately, this formula does not work because it assumes that the sole factor determining the quality and level of service being delivered is the ranking of the SEO company's website. This is simply false.

So if an SEO company keeps hammering the fact that they have high rankings without providing empirical evidence that they have achieved the same type of results for clients in similarly competitive categories, then it is advisable to closely examine their offerings and promises.

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