In the SEO world there are rarely any hard defined answers. There is no mathematical equation you can plug your website into and come up with the “correct” answer on how to rank better. There are a list of somewhat vague best practices that most SEOs agree are the way to get better rankings but there is no end all be all solution that will work for everyone in every situation. Of course the vague aspects of SEO leave questions and gaps. These questions are often answered with theory and quite often those theories are a bit on the wild side and have no factual basis. Here are a few we’ve heard from clients and potential clients over the years:
1. Black hat SEO techniques really work
Granted, for a long time most black hat SEO worked, and honestly some of it still does – temporarily. Unfortunately is the temporarily aspect that some unethical SEOs latch on to and try to convince people they have a secret to better Google rankings. They get paid, do their thing and their customers sites are ranked really well almost immediately. So they get paid for another month of service. Then their customers sites start to drop and they give some roundabout reason but convince their customers to keep going, reminding them of the early success. Well, 6-12 months go by and their sites are no where to be found and their customer leaves. The website owner is stuck with the penalized black hat site and the unethical SEO is left with a lot of money and more customers going through the same process.
There is no trick to SEO. Good, honest, long term SEO takes time. Rankings that slowly build on a foundation of good content, real links, active social media and other aspects will keep getting better and even with extreme algorithm changes won’t be affected much if at all. If anyone tells you they figured out the secret or can guarantee top rankings within a month or anything else that sounds like a really good deal, be weary. Ask for references – sites they’ve SEO’d that are and have been ranked well for at least six months. If they claim to have a secret but can’t show you the results on other sites then my advice is to run very fast and find a SEO that can show you results.
2. Google manipulates results to get people to buy ads
This one is kind of funny. To the conspiracy theorist it makes perfect sense. Google gets paid through ads so it wants to sell more ads so it will do whatever possible to make people buy more ads. That’s a pretty crappy business model, especially for a company as large as Google. They don’t need to cheat people out of their money – we’re practically throwing cash at them as it is. I personally tested this theory a while ago. I had a client who was just starting out and wanted to use paid Google ads to get traffic while we got their organic rank up. Their ads were in the top few spots for most of their keywords and their organic rankings were climbing. After a few months they made it to the first page organically and we cut the paid ads. Guess what happened to their rankings – nothing. They kept climbing, saw no indication that their recent ad spending cut affected their organic rankings at all.
I rarely recommend paid ads, but there are cases where they can help. As in the example above if you have a new site or your site is completely off the map paid ads can drive traffic to your site quickly. But it’s expensive. Much more expensive in the long run than optimizing your organic SEO efforts. For SEOs paid advertising is pretty easy money. Many charge as much as 25% of your total spend to manage your account. That really adds up and the effort involved is rarely as much as the percentage they’re getting. Be cautious if an SEO company pushes you into paid ads for any reason.
3. SEO tools are all you need to fix your site
Many companies offer paid tools that will help analyze your site, find errors, suggest fixes. Sounds great, but as with any automated system, especially a cheap one, it runs off a formula that it applies across the board. No two sites are the same so no two SEO plans are the same. Yes – it’s great to find all your broken links and fix them or where you need more content in your meta tags, but real SEO requires an expert who will analyze your site with these tools and analyze your site and market, and competitors, and social media, and brand as a whole to determine where you need more effort and where you’re doing well.
The bottom line is SEO tools are great, but they only help in one small area of your website’s rankings. Give us a call and we will use our (fancy, expensive) tools to analyze your site and we’ll give you a full analysis beyond what the automated tools tell us. We’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to get your site ranked higher and of course we’ll give you a great rate if you decide you want us to help with anything…