A Cautionary SEO Tale

My phone has been ringing nonstop with SEO sales calls recently. I’m getting about five per day, and I’m pretty sure it’s the same outfit. Here’s how it goes: the call starts off with a computer claiming to be Shannon or Sharon telling me “she” is my SEO consultant (so we won, and Skynet is relegated to SEO cold calls & consulting?). The computer goes on to state “top positions on Google have recently become available for businesses just like [mine].” The computer voice continues they can guarantee top placement and clicks 24-hours a day; 7 days per week. Previously, I’d connected to an operator and asked to be removed from the list. That only led to more calls. So I’ve just been hanging up on Shannon/Sharon. The other day I was feeling cantankerous, so I decided to press one and see how their sales pitch goes.

What Happens When You Talk to a Scammy SEO Vendor

David was on the line almost right away and was super upbeat. “Did I want more business?” Of course! “Am I the sole owner of the business?” No. I have 75 percent. “Can you make decisions right now? Once these top slots become available, they don’t last long.” Yeah, I can make a decision right now (fully knowing the decision to spend money was a resounding NO).

He asked for the business name as this is where I made a fatal mistake: I told him my company was Republic Insights, LLC. As I heard him typing away, assuming he was entering me into the CRM, I casually asked how often these top positions become available. Unfortunately, he wasn’t putting me in their CRM; he was Googling me. Seconds later he says, “it says you do SEO and localized search.” “Yep,” I responded, “now about this top placement that’s available…” He hung up.

He Hung up in the middle of a sales pitch?! Of course he did.

There is no such thing as a “top position” becoming available on Google. Doesn’t happen and it never did. Since he was talking to somebody who “does SEO” he knew I wasn’t going to be fooled and moved on to someone waiting on the line who could be more easily suckered. Poor next person, they just wasted a ton of money. Don’t be that next person.

What to Look for in a Legitimate SEO Vendor

An SEO vendor, who is focused on providing you with a strong ROI, is going to do two things for you. First, they will help you with the technical side of SEO; next, they will help you articulate your relevance online. Let’s dive a bit deeper on those.

Technical SEO

Technicals SEO involves behind-the-scenes optimizations as well as optimizations that are visible to your site’s visitors. For the behind-the-scenes stuff, this typically involves well-written meta descriptions, appropriate meta tags for social sharing, and the use of micro-data/schema markup (when appropriate). Your SEO vendor should also optimize your heading tags (h tags). Think of these h tags as headlines on your web pages that send signals to Google about the page’s content as well as provide visual cues to website visitors about the content of the paragraph below the headline. Technical SEO will only get you so far and probably won’t get you toward the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Articulating Your Relevance

Google became a verb by delivering the best search results to their customers. Google gets a good chunk of its revenue from the ads they display when a person uses their search engine; so it’s in Google’s business interest to continue to provide the best search results. To do that, the algorithm Google uses has become increasingly sophisticated so it can understand the content of the page and the intent of the person making the search query. If your webpage/website isn’t relevant to the intent of the person searching, it won’t be displayed very high in the search results.

A good SEO vendor will help you identify search behavior that aligns with your business and sales objectives and then will help you get your content in order so it Google recognizes it as relevant to a person’s search query. In my experience, this is what separates the good SEO vendors from the ones who are just out to take your money.

Final Thoughts

At Republic Insights, we bemoan calling ourselves SEO experts. We prefer the term “content strategists” because these days so much of search engine optimization is about content. If you’re entertaining the idea of bringing on an SEO vendor, make sure they have a strong focus on content. Anyone who is promising you top placement that only focuses on the technical side of SEO is more interested in taking your money than in providing you with real results.