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SEO: it’s about quality, not price
by Brian Turner
The big problem
with SEO as a service is that there is no standard like with PPC.
It’s not at all a case of different companies offering the
same service simply at different prices - SEO is a service covering
that SEO cannot be bought and sold on price points alone - and
why it is essential that companies looking for SEO services determine
what they are actually looking for.
brief set of pointers may include any of the following:
- Basic on-page
- SEO copyriting
- Site architecture
- Link development
- Keyword research
- URL rewriting/dynamic solutions
a list is determined, it’s important to then seek not a
“SEO company” but a company that provides specific
SEO services that you actually need - and is proven to be competent
at delivering such services.
The big danger
next is that the prospective client will shop around on price
- and in B2B services if you buy on price, you’re in real
danger of living out the mantra of “pay peanuts, get monkeys”.
services by price point alone is definitely in invitation for
poor quality services, and even worse, can invite a penalty in
probably done more than any other country to position itself as
the “SEO spam” capital, with a huge number of companies
fighting to offer the cheapest service that delivers the smallest
end up paying for something that looks cheap, but it’s just
And what can
seem like a bargain deal doesn’t simply waste money - it
wastes time enough to allow your competitors to gain an increasingly
lead on you.
one thing for a SEO company to deliver poor results, but there
is always the danger that incompetent SEO companies can get a
business website banned from Google.
It is unfortuntely
common, and a small business with a banned website will struggle
to get back into Google’s index, even once they clean up.
sales - all promise, no substance
internet services, SEO services has become a band wagon for quick
a large number of companies claiming to offer “SEO services”,
but only a minority with any real competence
SEO companies usually do not engage in aggressive sales practices
such as email spam campaigns or telesales cold-calling.
are an indicator of a sales-focused company, and says nothing
of their ability to deliver on sales promises.
In a sales
environment, those promises are likely exaggerated beyond the
ability of the technical teams to deliver.
include “guaranteed rankings” or “money-back
guarantee” - but it’s all sales gimmick, with no substance.
offer these slogans just to get at your cash, regardless of consequential
No one guarantees
Google’s search results excepting for Google. And good luck
trying to get your money back when it doesn’t work.
SEO’s guarantee the dedication of years of knowledge and
experience in working positively with Google results. It’s
an expert position that is so sought after that the job market
in experienced SEO’s is totally dry.
every SEO company can cover all specialities
Most SEO companies
will cover a range of SEO specialities, but only specialise in
one or two of these at best.
One area of
failing common to SEO companies is trying to offer specialist
services they do not have a real competence in.
A common experience
with this is link development work.
categorically and without fear of contradiction that there are
a lot of branded SEO companies who are selling link development
as part of their SEO package to corporate clients - and then engage
in link development work that is sloppy, clumsy, inadequate -
or outright dangerous.
social web via is another speciality where there are those who
specialise and those who don’t. Having a Digg account and
submitting something once to Digg does not a social media marketer
make you, or your company.
a lot of good SEO’s out there who are little known, not
least because they are more interested in work than public recognition.
may not appear readily in blog posts, a simple way to look for
them is to ask for recommendations from other companies.
That way you
can get a clear idea of what exact service was performed, what
the fruits of the service were, and what sort of return on investment
there are a number of SEO figures in the public eye, but be careful
to look in the right public places.
who have a speaking record at industry events such as Search Engine
Strategies, WebMasterWorld, and SMX usually carry the respect
of the SEO industry itself, and generally regarded as experts,
if not, leading figures.
are a good way to find quality through third-party validation.
media - not the place to find services
sites, blogs, and forums, can see a lot of active chatter on SEO
topics, but the warning is that some of the people leading these
discussions only have limited SEO experience in working on their
own website(s), and have never worked in the commercial deep end.
SEO’s rarely have time to blog or post in communities -
they are usually too busy and there are better things to do with
their time. However, some do make a point of keeping a public
presence, not least because their business model demands attention
on their position within the industry.
is, accomplished SEO’s don’t necessarily carry the
respect of any online community, but do carry the respect of their
clients, and sometimes even have industry recognition as well.
threat of losing clients to SEO vultures
SEO as an
industry already suffers an image problem - to many, at best SEO
is about “spamming”, and at worse, outright fraud.
while competent SEO’s continue to deliver expert services,
they remain under threat from client demands for bigger, better
- and cheaper.
This is even
more the case where clients have engaged in successful SEO services
- and are lulled into a false sense of security that they can
then either get the same SEO services cheaper elsewhere, or else
even do it themselves.
been pretty shocked to receive a couple of communications from
clients this year raising these very issues, so I’ve had
to spend valuable time in communications re-assuring them of the
quality of work, pointing to indicators we use to measure success
- and pointing out the difference between “competent SEO”
and “cheap SEO”.
While I can
only advise people outside of the SEO industry to shop on quality,
rather than price, my own experience suggests that within the
SEO industry itself, client communications and reinforcement of
relationships is becoming an increasingly accentuated part of
thought I was good at that - now I need to become better.