"...I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough organic search engine and social media traffic for your website. Your website is not ranking in the top Google search for many competitive keywords..."
These scams are getting easier to pick out, and most get flagged as junk by your email platform.
But scam artists always find new and better ways to make themselves sound legit - those are the ones you have to worry about. They might call your office asking for you by name, or worse yet, claim to be a local company of SEO experts. If a company promises this: “First page Google rankings, guaranteed!” Officially raise your red flags. It’s an SEO scam and you don't want to be a business owner who falls victim to this empty promise.
Next time someone promises you first page rankings on Google – or any sort of SEO promise for that matter- ask these five questions.
1: What Keywords Will I Rank For?
This one is pretty straightforward, but it's the perfect starting place. If you’re being promised first page ranking, you’ll want to know what you’re being ranked for! Ask for a list of keywords, in order of importance.
Of course you want to rank for terms that are relevant to your website, but if your business name is the first word on the list, watch out! When it comes to your business name you should always rank number one. When people search for you by name, you’re going to come up. That’s how Google works. Google wants to give people what they’re looking for.
Now, if you have a generic business name it might not be so easy. Generally speaking, however, you should always show up first when your name is searched.
2: How Were Those Keywords Determined?
Choosing which keywords you rank for is so important. Just because you don’t rank for any given term doesn’t mean you should. In most cases, you want to rank for the terms your potential customers are using. So, how do you know if people are searching for certain keywords over others?
Use Google’s Keyword Planner. You will need to log in to a Google Account in order to use it. The tool is designed for advertisers who want to buy keywords with Google AdWords. I consider that a secondary benefit. What I really use the keyword planner for the most is keyword research.
I could write an entire series of posts about keyword research, but here it is in a nutshell: keyword research simply tells you how many people per month search for a given keyword. These first page SEO scams will promise ranks for terms that nobody is actually searching for.
So, when they optimize your page for one of those terms, you show up first and the SEO firm looks like the hero. What really happened is that you just competed in a race that only you were running in. Of course you’ll be first.
Always ask to see the research and the search volume for the promised terms.
3: How Long Will This Take?
Many empty SEO promises have some sort of timeframe, usually 90 days or less. As a business owner, you'll want to know how long these things take. It’s a legitimate concern, which is why it’s something shoddy SEO firms like to use to manipulate you into spending your cash with them.
The long and short of it is that nobody knows how long rankings take. In fact, a recent study by Ahrefs verified that it takes much longer than many expect to rank on the first page. The study cites an examination of over 2 million keywords and found that even the 10th ranking page on Google is, on average, 650 days old. The first ranking page? Almost 950 days old.
It all depends on what keywords you want to optimize for, and it also depends on how competitive those keywords are, the domain authority of your website, the overall quality of your content, etc. The list of variables goes on and on.
I’m going to just touch on something called Black Hat vs White Hat SEO techniques. Diving into the technical differences in the execution of these deserves their own article. Here are the main differences:
Black Hat SEO gives you a quick win in the search engines by breaking the rules. You’ll see your “results” right away and the company you paid will be laughing all the way to the bank. Quickly, Google figures out what happened, and your site gets dropped off the search index.
White Hat SEO, on the contrary, focuses on research, content, and patience. It takes work to be done right, especially for highly competitive industries. But, these efforts and their results have a true impact on how your business continues to rank over time.
5: How Do You Backup Your Guarantee?
This one is the kicker. No company can make a guarantee on something they cannot control. If someone guarantees you a first page ranking, ask them if they are a Google employee. Google does not publish how their algorithms work, and they do not offer SEO services. Don’t buy it if you hear otherwise.
A guarantee is only as good as the person making it. In the case of first page SEO rankings, a guarantee just isn't something that exists.
SEO Results without the Scam
SEO is not a set-it-and-forget-it effort. It’s an ongoing process that takes time, patience, and great content. The process can only be faked for a very short time. And once Google figures it out, earning your way back is a hard road.
Nobody can guarantee SEO ranking. The rules change every day, and nobody knows what those rules are. All we have are best practices and case studies from those who have gone before us.
I’m passionate about making things happen for our clients, thus generating real and quantifiable results. As the Technical Marketing Manger, I have the joy to touch nearly every aspect of our clients’ inbound marketing efforts. From social media, to blogging, to PPC to lead nurturing, and email marketing. I love generating new ideas and then watching them come to life. In my free time, I brew my own beer with my dad and brother, play with my kids, go on dates with my wife and occasionally get a little gaming in.