Who hasn’t seen some form of advertisement that promises “Guaranteed first page Google results”? If you’re a business owner with a website, you’re likely swarmed with spam emails with similar messages on a weekly basis.
To some, these promises sound tantalizing. “Hey, if they’re guaranteeing it, they can’t be lying right?” or “It’s free and fast, what do I have to lose?”. The answers to those questions are: “YES!” and “LOTS!”.
Here are the top 5 red flags to be on the lookout for when you see any form of SEO related advertisement.
This is sadly an industry that has really hurt the credibility of the word “guarantee” because it’s use has become the top red flag when dealing with an SEO business. Promises such as “Guaranteed #1 ranking on Google” are impossible to deliver in terms of organic ranking. In fact,
take a look at this article from Google that states “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google”. Straight from the horses mouth.
THEY’RE WITH GOOGLE
The above mentioned article also states “Beware of SEOs that allege a special relationship with Google”. This is another big red flag because A. no one from Google will email or call you out of the blue to talk about your website or search engine ranking. B. Google provides no special treatment, inside tracks or secrets to anyone. If you get contacted by someone saying they’re from Google, hang up or delete.
THEY KNOW THE SECRET
There is not now, or will there ever be a magic potion to make your website suddenly climb up the search results. A legitimate SEO company should be able to clearly explain what’s involved with getting your website more visible online. Why? In part because this information is readily available to anyone online, just not everyone has the experience or time to execute an SEO strategy properly. Any SEO company mentioning “trade secrets” or “new trick” are being purposely secretive, and not for good reasons.
SUBMISSION TO THOUSANDS SEARCH ENGINES
Um, why? Google, Yahoo, Bing and AOL handle over 95% of search engine traffic (and Google is by far the leader of this group) so this is the only place where you should focus your attention.
OFFERING FREE OR TRIAL SEO SERVICES
SEO is tedious and time consuming when done right. The work and time required to see results is significant. No legitimate company is going to do this for free. On a side note, if they want to provide a “free trial” in exchange for access to your website (FTP credentials and / or Control Panel of your hosting account), just imagine the damage they could do. SEO, like design, follows the rule of: Cheap, Fast, Good. Choose 2.
There are a lot of different red flags to identify a promise that is too good to be true, or just a flat out criminal scam / fraud. However in the end, just ask yourself 1 of 2 questions:
1. If this person has the secret to a fast, cheap and easy way of getting a website to the top of Google, shouldn’t they be too busy with clients to be spamming for new business? Wouldn’t they be swamped with word of mouth business like anyone with a magic potion would be?
2. If you’re receiving the same type of promises from a dozen different sources, wouldn’t this mean that the secret is out and you’ll be competing with other businesses similar to yours who have been promised the same thing?
Not everyone can be #1.
Question everything, and when in doubt, contact your friendly neighborhood website designer.