Sidestep Search Engine Optimization Scams
How to avoid unethical SEO professionals and strategies
ST. LOUIS - According to data from Forrester Research, over 60 percent of all online search traffic goes to the websites that appear in the top 10 search engine results for the term queried. Simply put, this makes search engine optimization one of the most effective forms of online marketing available and a critical part of any strategic business plan for the web.
To improve site rankings for clients, SEO strategists make use of a variety of complex and ever-evolving tactics in order to keep pace with continually advancing web technology. As a result, actual SEO methodology can be hard to explain and even harder to understand - which often creates a significant knowledge gap between SEO strategists and their clients. Unfortunately, not all SEO methods and strategists are created equal and this uneven relationship can create an opportunity for unethical behavior to flourish
"One of the most horrific examples I've seen is a company that guaranteed clients a number one ranking at least once a month," said Erin Steinbruegge, online marketing strategist for St. Charles-based, online marketing and web development firm, Thoughtprocess Interactive. "If you read carefully though, you'd see that the number one ranking didn't have to be an organic ranking- it could be a Pay-Per-Click ad! So basically, they'd collect a client's money, spend $1.00 on a PPC ad and call it mission accomplished for the month."
With years of SEO experience under her belt, Steinbruegge has seen unethical strategists play nearly every trick in the book on unsuspecting clients. Everything from recommending outdated practices that no longer have any effect on search rankings to hiding behind the "mysterious" nature of SEO in order to charge fees while doing absolutely nothing.
"Be wary of anyone who won't tell you what they are doing to your site, or who tells you they can do all of their SEO work behind the scenes. The odds are that person is either doing nothing at all, or engaging in some risky SEO strategies that can ultimately lead to a penalty for your website."
When selecting an SEO strategist to help achieve your business goals, Steinbruegge recommends looking for an SEO professional that shows concern about how their strategy will fit into your overall marketing plan and advises business owners to be an active participant in the planning phases of the project once the decision has been made.
"Most importantly, you and your SEO consultant should have a plan in place for how you will measure success. Before any work begins, you should know what metrics will be tracked, what type of reports you can expect and how often you will have a checkpoint review to discuss key accomplishments and next steps."
Though it's important to consider a potential SEO strategist carefully, Steinbruegge said it's critical that business owners not let the fear of getting scammed keep them from taking advantage of all the benefits a good SEO strategy can have for their site.
"I've seen SEO make a huge difference in the bottom line of countless businesses. As part of an overall integrated marketing strategy, it often delivers greater ROI than most other tactics. It's worth it!"