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Beware the SEO snake oil salesman

Guest post by Jorge Cordova

Cordova (1)We all remember the stories of the Wild West, which at some point featured a traveling huckster selling a snake oil that cured everything from blindness to foot pain. Today’s digital equivalent: aggressive sales pitches with “SEO guarantees” that promise your business website will receive tons of new traffic and appear on page one of Google.

 There’s little question that Search Engine Optimization is among the best ways to drive steady, ongoing traffic to your site. However, it should be real, qualified traffic that will generate new sales leads. Being on page one of Google just for the sake of being on page one is not necessarily going to drive business.

 So, how do you avoid the SEO snake oil salesmen? Here are a few tips on avoiding the scams and what to expect from a real SEO Guarantee.

 SEO Scam #1: “I’ll get you on page one in a week!”

 Sure, you can be on page one of Google. But for what keywords? Let’s say you are a dentist in Miami who happens to be blond and left handed. It won’t be hard to get your practice to show on page one of Google if someone searches for “blond, left-handed dentists in Miami.” The problem is that no one searches for that keyword phrase.

 Typically, the snake oil salesmen achieve the page one rankings with keywords that are not searched by anyone. Although a “long-tail” keyword strategy is usually a good one, a keyword phrase with 6-10 words is not likely to be searched very often, so if your SEO “specialist” tells you otherwise, they should have data to back it up.

 SEO Scam #2: “You’ll get thousands of visitors right away!”

 Remember what those Wild West hucksters were usually wearing? A black hat. The term lives on in the digital era. When looking at increased traffic guarantees, look out for “black hat providers” utilizing unscrupulous tactics.

 Everyone wants more traffic to his or her site, so you should too, right? Not necessarily. Many black hat providers will provide you with log files from your site’s web server, showing an increase in traffic. What they neglect to mention is that most of the traffic is being generated robotically – it’s not real humans visiting your site. Search engines don’t like this kind of sleight of hand and may penalize your site for it or at the very least, ignore that traffic.

 A true indication of real, human visitors to your site would be web analytics software. It will ignore robot traffic and focus on the real visits that can generate real leads.

 What to look for in a real SEO strategy

 I often tell clients that a good SEO strategy is like taking vitamins and going to the gym. It is foundational, necessary and brings excellent incremental results in the long term. Reasonable goals would be:

  •         Upward ranking movement within 6-12 months
  • Significantly increased traffic for well-researched and client-approved keywords

 An important value an SEO consultant can bring you is to brainstorm relevant keywords with you and then do the research to determine if those keywords will be worthy of pursuing. Quality data analysis is essential. It may be the case that some of the keyword phrases you are interested in are too competitive, in which case an ethical consultant should recommend related keywords that would be better to target.

 Good questions to ask your SEO consultant

Search Engine Optimization is definitely critical to driving qualified traffic to your site. When you are ready to take the plunge, ask the following questions from any possible SEO service provider:

 ▪    How many people are searching for the targeted keywords?

▪    Where is the keyword data coming from?

▪    Is the traffic data coming from server log files?

▪    Does the traffic data include visits from robots?

▪    Can you show which keywords are driving traffic?

 Jorge Cordova has worked in electronic commerce for more than 15 years and is currently a digital marketing consultant for WSI Digital Experts. You can follow him on Twitter: @WSI_JCordova or contact by email jcordova@wsidigitalexperts.com.