Paying for SEO Services

The problem with so many people providing services relating to website building is that it is hard for the novice to determine who knows what they are doing and who just talks a good game. Nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to SEO Services.

SEO, or search engine optimization, uses a myriad of techniques designed to improve a site’s placement within the search engine results. Where things get complicated is that many techniques that can gain a site a quick boost in the results can lead to the search engines later banning the site for using “black hat” SEO techniques.

Black hat SEO’ers make use of techniques that were once acceptable and have since been banned by the search engines or use techniques that were never acceptable. Black hatters gamble on not being discovered and hope to make short term gains and even quicker profits. That’s all well and good when the site they are gambling with is their own, but too many unsuspecting website owners hire these folks to help promote their sites and end up paying for their own site’s demise.

Don’t get me wrong, there are professionals out there that do a great job of promoting websites using “White Hat” techniques. The problem lies in that many find out too late they hired the wrong people.

One of the biggest secrets of SEO professionals is the use of directory submissions. One of the most well-known SEO professionals, in a misguided attempt to put the genie back in the bottle, has made very loud and public statements against the usefulness of directory submissions. What many don’t know is that this “professional” owns many directories and frequently submits his clients to some of the other large directories along with his own. Many are guessing he is losing clients to the many cut-rate and discount directory submission services that have sprung up in the past year as well as the site owners figuring out how to do it for themselves.

I own two directories, Crafty Tips Arts & Crafts Directory and Pet Site Guides, and of all of the unusable and unacceptable submissions I receive, a great many of them come from SEO companies. Their clients pay them to submit to X number of directories and whether or not the sites are accepted doesn’t seem to matter. Part of me feels sorry for the site owners, but another part of me wonders if they even care.

I went so far as to email a site owner, who’s site would have normally been accepted into Crafty Tips were it not for their not following the submission guidelines. The contact email for the submission was for an SEO firm. I emailed the site owner directly. My response – silence. My thought was “Hey, whatever, throw your money away.”

To make a long story short, my advice is to do-it-yourself. Find webmastering forums and study the SEO sections. Look for niche directories that specialize in listing sites like yours. (If you have a crafty website or a pet site, be sure to start with mine – they’re both free.)

If you have some money to spend, perhaps hire a content writer who is versed in SEO techniques to help you – you get a two-fer that way and they won’t be touching your site’s code which is where many so-called SEO professionals get their clients into trouble.

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4 Responses to Paying for SEO Services

I think its worth remembering 5 years ago an SEO was a very speciailist web developer or information architect who was deliberately designing and developing sites with specific structure and coding to help it rank well. The Internet marketers then promoted the site through directories etc.

90% of SEO true SEO is in the setting up and coding of the site and that is where you should be investing money on a professional if you think you need to. These guys are different from Internet marketers they are different from web developers they nearly always work with both.

Comment by Tim Nash on

I see SEO as a field like webmastering and content writing where everyone with a computer is suddenly an expert. I know there are SEO pros out there that are worth their weight in gold, the problem is that inexperienced webmasters are most likely not going to have the budget to afford them.

I agree 100% with you Tim, much of SEO is embedded in the code of each page of a site. I’ve always said SEO needs to be a part of any website *before* even the first line of code is written.

Keep in mind, many crafters and others use WYSIWYG editors to create their websites and have very little coding expertise. That is why I think that content is the easiest place for a site owner to begin their SEO efforts.

When they grow their sites and learn more, they will begin to tinker under the hood and work on their code too.

This entry was in response to a forum post where someone had hired one of these so-called pros to only see their traffic stop. They came to the forum asking for help and a quick look at the code told the story of what happened – the “pro” really made a mess of things.

I guess you could say I wrote this with a big bias and in a bad temper. I hate seeing the bottom feeders take advantage of small business owners who don’t understand the damage that can be done to their sites.

I know from your posts on other forums and your blog that you are someone who provides customers definite value for their investment. The problem is that you are sadly in the minority.

Thanks for the comments and welcome to my little piece of the Internet.

Comment by Me on

I think SEO has a major problem in that we have no professional body or education program. Most SEO’s are self taught and while people like myself teach SEO to the next generation of Internet technologists we do so as part of a larger degree courses. I wish I could say that most SEO firms are responsible and worth the money but I can’t what I can offer is common sense approach which is…

Always ask for references (and follow them up)
Ask them what they are going to do (a good SEO will explain how they work what they are doing and explain every step)

Never ever work with people who will guarantee rankings their are no such things in SEO.

While this is total common sense I hope it helps remember search marketers are different to SEO I won’t make a comment about which is a better ROI.

Comment by Tim Nash on

Well said! I spend 6 months waiting for my SEO “specialist” to get me into the high top positions. I specifically said I only wanted white hat SEO. Not only did he not get me into the top positions but he used black hat seo and my rankings decreased! Fortunately his services were pay on performance. He was paid nothing but I just lost 6 months of sales! I now read a lot about SEO and try to do this on my own. It is very hard but at least I am doing white hat SEO (to my knowledge) and I am positive I am doing the right thing.

Comment by cross stitch kits on

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