The following conversation will hopefully enlighten you about SEO.
Client: Hi, I am wondering about how to get my web page on the first page of Google.
Me: You mean you want to get your website ranked on the first page of Google and you are wanting our help?
Client: Yes, that’s why I’m calling you……I have been speaking to a few different companies, I think they call themselves SEO companies and I am getting some different answers from each person and I’m getting a bit confused. I mean all I want is for my website to be on the first page of Google and no one can give me a straight answer.
Me: Why are you confused??
Client: Well I spoke to this one SEO company and they said they could get me to the first position in 2 weeks and then I spoke to this other guy who said it would take 6 months. The prices varied so much that I don’t know who to believe and I do not fully get the timing difference.
ME: Uh ha….is that all?
Client: No, one of the SEO companies wanted to lock me into a 12-month contract that he was really pressuring me to sign, whilst the other guy said that that he was happy going on a month by month agreement. To be perfectly honest with you, I am not particularly comfortable signing anything long term but the guy trying to get me to sign said that this was common practice and that an SEO contract was needed as a lot of the work was done upfront and it was not fair to him.
Do you put people on contracts?
Me: No we don’t and having a long term SEO contract is a big mistake. At Hopping Mad Designs never lock you into any type of contract, however, we do feel that SEO is a long term partnership and if you are serious about getting your website ranked on the first page of Google then you have to have a long term digital strategy as well as a long term search engine strategy. There is really no point committing your business to a project like this if you are going to give up after 1 month. You have to be in this for the long haul and be prepared to watch your ranking fluctuate a bit until they stabilise.
Client: That’s what the other guy said to me and I feel a bit more comfortable going down this path. What do you charge for something like this?
Me: Well, that all depends on your keywords, and how competitive they are. The more competitive the search term the longer it will take to rank and the more resources we need to invest into this project.
Client: The other SEO firm told me that they could get me to page 1 for $99.00 per month and he guaranteed me this result within 3 months.
Me: Mate, did this guy speak English? ( trying to imply that he was from the subcontinent)?
Client: Yes he did and very well. But, when I did want to meet with him he said that he was very busy and preferred to do things via phone and email.
Me: Well that’s not good. You really cannot start your SEO strategy or implement any type of SEO campaign without first meeting with the client and discussing things thoroughly. At Hopping Mad Designs we really encourage you to come into our studio to meet with one of our search engine experts to work out a proper campaign to get you started. Are you based in Sydney? I always tell them at this stage that even Google recommends meeting their prospective SEO agency and to never believe fake ranking guarantees.
Me: Well, why don’t you make a time to come in and we can go over everything needed to get you started?
Client: Sure would love to, but I just want to ask you a couple of more questions.
Me: Surefire away.
Client: Well firstly, I have a budget of only $1000 per month and was hoping that this was enough to get me where I want to be and secondly can you show me exactly what you have done for other companies in my industry.
Me: The budget should be OK but again we really need to look at the keywords and work out a strategy to fit within this budget. Secondly, no problem, I can show you the ranking for about 10 companies that we currently work with who are on the very first page of Google. They are all doing really well and we have been working with them for many years. As I said before SEO is not an instant, flick the switch and you are on page 1. You have to have patience and be prepared for the long term. If you want a quick fix then we are the wrong company for you.
Client: Why does it take such a long time? I mean the other SEO guy was showing me companies that he ranked within a couple of weeks. I want instant results as I need the business.
Me: OK, firstly, don’t believe everything that that you hear from guys like this. Remember they are there to sell you a service and they are probably under heavy pressure to make the sale and get you to sign on the dotted line, so they will say and do anything just to get you on board. Once signed, watch out, this is where the real fun begins.
Client: What do you mean?
Me: Well this is where you have committed your business to a contract that you cannot get out of so they really do not have to perform that well. Sure they promised quick results but you have to ask yourself this one very important question. How on earth are they going to do this? As far as the rest of the online world is concerned SEO takes time and if these cowboys are promising fast results then they are using what is termed ‘ black hat’ techniques. Sure they may rank you quickly and you may see quick results but once Google gets a whiff of this then you are gone. They will punish your website and give your website a penalty. Yes, a penalty!
I have seen this happen many many times before and if you think that your new SEO company can keep your ranking on page 1 after getting you there in a couple of weeks then you are mistaken. The only real method of ranking a website comes from many factors not just limited to ‘dodgy back linking’ practices.
Once your site has been punished it is very difficult to get out of this.
Client: Wow, this is all so new to me. This is why I am getting so confused and don’t know who to believe. I mean you are now sounding so convincing that it’s just making matters worse.
Me: I am not trying to sell you anything. I just want you to be fully aware of what SEO is and how the whole search engine process works. There is no point in starting something that you do not completely understand.
This is why entrusting your SEO with a company like Hopping Mad Designs is the best move you can make. We have been doing this for many years and we are not a ‘fly by night’ start-up company looking to rip you off. All our work is ‘ white hat’ meaning that all our SEO techniques are well within the very strict guidelines of Google. We make sure that we do things on a gradual, organic basis so we do not trigger any alarm bells and have a team of SEO specialists that really know their stuff.
Client: This all sound very promising. One other quick question. Does your company just do SEO or does it do web design as well? If so, I really need you to have a look at my website as I had it designed and developed about 3 years ago by the same company who I was speaking to about my SEO and I have never liked the design and think that it’s time for a complete change.
The problem is that every time I ask him to do something on the site it takes weeks to do and he charges me an absolute fortune.
Me: And this is the guy you want to handle your search engine optimisation campaign?
Client: Yes, but I am starting to make a connection now and see a bit clearer.
Me: Totally! Why on earth would you get this guy to work on your marketing if he, firstly can’t design and secondly is terrible at customer service?
Client: I did not tell you this but he is a friend of mine and I do not want to hurt his feelings. I went to school with him and he has been working on the website since we started the business, but now I really feel it’s time to move on.
Me: Good move. Working with friends or relatives is a recipe for disaster. I’ve seen this many times before. Listen to me carefully, if you want to succeed online, then you have to firstly partner with a company that specialises in this type of marketing and understands how to get a ranking and secondly you must pay a fair price for this. Skimping on your marketing and SEO budget will not work out for you.
If you want the best outcomes for your business then you have to be prepared to pay for their service, advice, guidance and expertise. Dodgy, cheap, companies will only get you into hot water and at the end of the day, you will be contacting a company like us to rescue you. Only this time, it will cost you a whole lot more money.
Client: OK sounds promising when can I come in?
If you have read this and it sounds familiar then you should take this advice very carefully, as I have to repeat myself on a daily basis to people who have no idea about SEO, online marketing, web design or about rip off companies looking for suckers who will part with their money.
Golden rules that will come in handy if you are on the lookout for an SEO Firm
1) Never believe what you hear
These people do not care about your business or about your ranking or even understand what they are selling. How do I know this? It’s because they actually cold call me daily. Yes, can you believe it? I get cold-called by SEO salespeople wanting to offer me SEO.
2) Never ever do all your marketing in the virtual space
Personalise it a bit and make sure you meet face to face with the people that will be handling your SEO. If they are reluctant to meet with you then walk away. Simple as that. If everything you do is in the virtual environment then if things do not go according to plan they can be less accountable. Go into their office and get a feel for who they are and the kind of company they represent.
3) Make sure that they mention the following words: ‘on-page optimisation’
If this is never brought up then this is a bad sign. On-page optimisation refers to the work that will be carried out on your website. SEO is not all about backlinking. It also requires a lot of work on your current site to ensure that it is search engine compliant. This comprises around 50% of the work so any credible SEO company wanting to do business with you should have a good grasp of this side of things. On-Page optimisation is a crucial part of your SEO strategy and you will never rank if your website is not completely Google compliant.
4) Ask to see some of the previous websites that they have worked on
Ring up a few of their past clients or clients that they are currently working on to get an idea of their work ethic, standards, customer service.
5) Pay only on a month by month basis
Never sign lengthy long term contracts longer than 1 month. You want the flexibility of being able to test a few companies out to see which one fits your corporate personality best. If you find that you have started with one SEO or Web design firm that simply is not working out, you need to be able to get out of the arrangement fast.
6) Try not to take cold calls from SEO companies
Be proactive and make your own calls. If they approach you, then you are probably getting calls from South East Asia and this is where your SEO will be carried out. Not a good move or a positive start.
I have been working at Hopping Mad Designs for over 18 years and I am writing this article to protect business people out there from getting burnt by SEO companies.