Recently I had an unusual request from a client/partner to review a proposal from an SEO company from one of their clients. I was happy to look at it for her and I was shocked at what the proposal contained. The cost was exhorbitant for just a small amount of work and it was cloaked in such nonsensical terms It was obvious the author had very little understand or experience in this area.
Red Flag #1
The first red flag was the proposal was to deliver SEO Optimization. Now since SEO means Search Engine Optimization then the title would read Search Engine Optimization Optimization. OK, I'll give you this one I thought to myself...
Red Flag #2
The second red flag was how they were going to perform this service. The work included linking terms between keywords on the pages with other content on the website. Also linking other keywords outside of the website to other websites. This is common practice when optimizing blogs or pages on a website. However, it is only one of many things that need to be done for complete on-site optimization. Page titles, headings, site structure, are just a few other things that must be done. None of that work was included.
Red Flag #3
The third red flag was reporting. There was no information about what kind of reports they would get. All it allocated was a number of hours each month to report. But there was no more work to be performed. So basically you would report on the lack of increasing traffic.
The cost of the work was in the thousands. I told my client they would be wasting their money doing this work.
So How Do You Do SEO?
To answer this question let's go back in time a bit and give a little history lesson...
In the early years around 2005 search engines were still young and used some very basic concepts on how to rank a website. They would look at the keywords in the meta data that you actually could enter yourself, and the number of those keywords on a web page. They would also look at how many other websites were linking to yours which are called backlinks.
Well it didn't take long for web designers to figure out if they put in lots of keywords, or created a lot of backlinks they would rank at the top for search terms. This was the heyday of SEO and a lot of firms made a lot of money manipulating search engines this way.
The problem for Google and other search engines is that they don't want users manipulating search results. They want the best search experience for their customers not who can pay more to be at the top. So in 2012 they release the Penguine and Panda updates to combat this problem for them.
Without going into a lot of detail what's transpired since then is a huge shift in what helps websites rank in search results. We can no longer do just one thing like Link Building or some other tactic to get long lasting organic results. We need to have a comprehensive plan which includes creating content that is targeted to your customers who are searching for your services. We share that content (like this blog post) over social media to engage and attract new visitors.
Over time Google and other search engines will see that you are giving searchers what they are looking for. You will be in compliance with Google terms of service, and you never have to look over your shoulder for doing something that might get you penalized.
There are many other red flags but common sense is your best defense when looking into these services. If you are trying to do something that is influencing search results just stop. Think about optimization for your customers. If you do that, you'll be successful.