Recently our company was approached by one of our clients who held in his hand a printout of a form letter he had been spammed with that read as follows,
“Hi, I recently visited your website, “www.abc123xyz.com,” during a routine survey of sites which may be capable of higher search engine performance through Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Efficient SEO brings an increase in online sales or leads. I hope this information may be of use to you, if not then I apologize for any inconvenience caused. So, here’s a summary of my findings on your site:
– Your Google Page rank is 0/10
– You have 0/10 back-links
– Your website has 0/15 pages indexed
I’m going somewhere with all this… I wanted to do my homework and research your website because I want to show you that I have applied some research to your website before contacting you with my proposal. We are in the business of offering 3 benefits for your website:
1) Diagnosing and fixing all issues with your website
2) Ranking your site to the top of the search results
3) Significantly increasing your online revenue levels.
Let me know if you would like to further information by email or we could schedule a call.
I look forward to your feedback.”
We pointed out to the client that not only was the email a form letter, it failed to point out the following:
1. The site rank is irrelevant! Only keyword ranking is important for search!
2. The message did not mention any specific keyword searches.
3. The spam contained no reference as to where the firm that sent the message was located.
4. The email did not detail any method or methods they intended to employ in order to rectify the situation.
5. They also did not include any reference to the client’s blogs, social posts or videos, which today accounts for 75% of the search engine ranking.
6. Most egregious of all was the fact that this particular website was ranked in the top ten listing on Google Page One for no fewer than seven keywords. In other words, they were already on page one of Google .
The crux of the matter was that whoever sent the spam that caused our client to go into a panic attack did not do their homework. They were simply Phishing for a response, any response from which to gain a toehold in order to try to get the prospect to fork over a credit card number. And far from being surprised at these tactics, I, myself, am routinely bombarded with email and phone calls from sales reps purportedly from Google who want to make me aware that my site is not on page one. Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
Google does not have a sales force.
What most people are unaware of is the fact that Google is not behind any of these messages and/or calls simply due to the fact that they have no outbound sales force. What they do is work with digital media agencies like ours. In fact they have a certification system for agencies wishing to offer AdWords pay-per-click advertising to their clients. But as far as organic ranking for which Google makes not one slim dime, the company does not offer assistance at any price, other than YouTube videos designed to let you know what Google wants in terms of content, backlinks and the like.
The fact of the matter is that Google guards how it ranks website and keywords for organic results. They do this to keep companies from being able to dominate organic search. Therefore any sales rep claiming to be from Google is at best a bald-faced liar and at worst an online criminal looking to do you harm.
What Every Business Needs to Know About Search Engine Optimization
If you go back to the year 2000, all that the search engines looked at in order to determine how sites ranked was contained on-site. Face it, back in 2000 there were no such things as blogs, social networks and streaming video. Heck, it could take a minute or more to get graphics to load properly if you were using a dial-up account. So all the search engine spiders had to look at was your website.
Well, we’ve come a long way baby. Today, only 25% of what the search engines look at is contained on-site. The majority of SEO criteria consist of such things as backlinks, blog posts, social posts, and videos. Not only do the spiders look to see whether these items are present, they also determine the relevance and the quality of posts. This along with frequency, whether or not the posts have been commented on and if they have been reposted to social sites, all factor in. What this means is that it isn’t enough to sport the logos for Twitter, Facebook and Google+ on your site, you also need to feed them on a regular basis.
What SEO Means Today
Here are the facts you need to contend with. There are more than 320 million websites online today, with another 130,000 new sites entering the fray daily. And every one of them wants to be on page one. In order to have any kind of chance to win with the odds stacked against you, you need to consider the following:
o Content is king. The days of “Set it and forget it” are over. If you want to get into the game, you need to blog on at least a weekly basis and you need to post to the social networks on at least a daily basis.
o The Internet has become a multimedia broadcast network. If the only thing, your website has to offer is prose, you aren’t going to be taken seriously by either the Google bots or your intended audience. You need to add podcasts and/or videos to your site on at least a monthly basis. (Weekly is even better.)
o Your blogs need to be more than extended tweets. If you don’t provide the readers with valuable articles to engage them, why should they read your blog at all, much less tweet or repost it?
o You also must ally yourself with other bloggers and social media publishers if you hope to generate any kind of audience online. The last thing, you want to wind up doing is spending time and money building a billboard in the desert.
In short, if you want to get off the bench and into the game, you need to make online content creation a priority. This means either feeding the system yourself, or hiring either an individual or an agency to do the work for you. Just bear in mind that outsourcing a job that requires weekly blogging, daily social posts, monthly backlink building and video/podcast production is not going to come cheap. Anyone telling you they can get you on Google page 1 for $99.95 per month is just going to take your hundred bucks a month for as long as you would care to pay it. A minimum of $1,000.00 per month is a more realistic figure, unless you are willing to do at least some of the work yourself.
Top 10 Questions to Ask Any SEO Firm
Even spending a grand a month doesn’t mean that you are going to jump onto page 1 overnight… if ever. If you are considering hiring the task out, here are ten questions you need to ask.
1. Where is your company located and how long have you been doing SEO? (Ask for their phone number and business address.)
2. What are your fees and what will I get for the money?
3. Does this fee include copywriting of blogs and social posts? What else? (backlinks, videos)
4. Can you provide me with references for current clients? (Do you have any video testimonials?)
5. What kind of performance guarantees do you offer and can I get them in writing?
6. How long is the contract and how long will it take to get my site on page one?
7. What happens if you fail to deliver results?
8. How do you determine the best keywords for my business?
9. What kind of reports will I receive and how often will I receive them?
10. Whom, do I call if I have any questions or needs during the time you are in my employ?
If any company that offers to optimize your site can’t tell you precisely what it is that you will be getting for your money and they can’t provide you with the phone numbers and address for at least 5 satisfied current clients, then they do not deserve your consideration. Also be wary of offshore firms since it is nearly impossible to get any kind of refund should they fail to deliver the goods. Also beware of long term contracts of one year or more. Many automatically renew and they put the onus on you to continue paying without any appreciable quid pro quo in terms of results with the SEO provider.
The bottom line is that if you are serious about maximizing your online results then you only have three possible options. Number one; you are willing to take the time to get the job done right on your own. This will take a huge amount of time and effort on your part. Number two; You are willing to do part of the work yourself and outsource the rest. Or three, outsource all the task in its entirety to a reputable firm that has all the tools necessary to complete the job on a timely basis. All three will allow you to reap the rewards that come with having organic page one search engine visibility. If you’re outsourcing, just remember this. You are hiring a technician, not a magician and results won’t be instantaneous. It could take three or four months before you start seeing page 1 results.
So the next time you get a call or an email from someone purportedly associated with Google, hit them with the first few questions in the list above and see how often you get a legitimate response. I’ll bet that 99 times out of 100 they will admit that they don’t work for Google and/or they will simply hang up. Either way you are now armed with the necessary knowledge to find a legitimate firm that can help you get the job done right.
About the author: Carl Weiss has helped companies improve their online results since 1995. He is president of W Squared Media Group, a digital marketing agency that provides a full array of digital marketing service including web design, SEO, blog writing, copyediting, social media posts, video production and touch marketing. You can hear him weekly on the radio show he co-hosts, “Working the Web to Win” every Tuesday at 4pm Eastern.