SEO Snakeoil

by Peter Sickles

If you work in SEO you are familiar with the jerks that have given you a bad name. Con-men with laptops have already given many of your clients SEO complexes that you now have to work through. Companies that market online are going to be targets for these slimy salesmen. For every real SEO webslinger you are likely to find a baker’s dozen selling snake oil, promising they can make the crippled walk and the blind see.

Unfortunately it is impossible to punch every single one of them in the face. This being so, my goal in this blog is to give a couple of hints as to how to tell the difference between a qualified technician and a quality con-man.

1. One of the easiest indicators that someone selling SEO is in fact selling snake oil is how you get approached. An SEO cold call is often a good indication that something’s up. Be more worried if they promise instant results. They might just tell you that they can get you a spot on Google’s first page right away. Often this means they set up a pay per click program. Pay Per Click is a sponsored listing. You get on the first page because you pay to be there. Once the money dries up your ranking disappears as well.

 2. Also beware if your so-called SEO expert talks about a secret method that only they know and then refuse to divulge details. Guess what….people know how they get the caramel into Caramilk bars. In the world of the web there are no secrets, there are just people who do their research and keep up to date on the newest techniques. If they won’t tell you what they do, it probably isn’t worth hearing in the first place.

 3. A big red flag that things are not on the up and up is when you are guaranteed results. The only way anyone can guarantee anything in this business is if they are investing in useless keywords or they are making promises they do not intend to keep.

 4. Another good indication that you’re dealing with a grifter is if they sell themselves as practicing only offsite or onsite optimization. You need both. Period. If they approach you and tell you they can make you rich and only talk about content optimization, keyword research and visibility analysis, take a second look. You should be equally suspicious if they tell you that their process is entirely based on links. Once more, repeat after me…SEO involves both offsite and onsite optimization or it won’t provide long lasting results.

 Ask to see the websites of clients they have worked with. Ask how they are going to achieve these miracles. And if they promise too much, they are probably going to deliver little.