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How to Spot an Illegitimate SEO Firm


SEO or Search Engine Optimization is critical to get your website noticed on the web. While this is something that you can do on your own, you may choose to hire an SEO firm because it is time consuming and there are some technical nuances that can make a very big difference in how your website is ranked.

This article will basically give you some tips for spotting the illegitimate firms that will either take your money and do little or worse–take your money and ultimately hurt your website’s ranking than good.

Legitimate SEO is referred to as “White Hat SEO.” It is done honestly and provides long-term results. These are the good guys. The bad guys are known as “Black Hat SEO.” Initially they might provide a fast and even remarkable boost in your search engine ranking, but unlike the good guys, the long-term results may turn out to be faked or even worse, do more harm than good.

As a relatively new industry that works in the ever-changing territory of search engine criterion, SEO is always aiming at a moving target and there are no official certifications for an SEO expert. Even outside of the white and black hats you can feel like you are in a Wild West movie.

Just how do you spot the bad guys? Well, they really don’t wear black hats so here are some tips.


You are guaranteed a #1 spot on Google

Unless you are buying Ad Words, no one can guarantee you a number one position. However, it can be done either using what could be harmful techniques or by using keywords that are so obscure no one would ever think to use them.


The SEO firm doesn’t rank when you search for them

If someone is guaranteeing you high rankings and they have not been able to do it for their own website, what does that say about their capabilities?


Links to your website are not well thought out or even logical

Building links to your website is very important in your SEO strategy. For truly honest and long term results they need to be intelligently placed in the right places. These links will help your search engine ranking while actually driving legitimate prospects to your website.


They are more concerned with traffic than they are with conversion

Any good SEO company can increase traffic to your website. You really shouldn’t care as much about the increased volume of traffic as about how many of these new visitors actually convert into customers. The downside of high volume and low conversion is:

  • Prospects that aren’t really prospects contact your sales and customer service people and end up wasting their time.
  • You get visitors who aren’t finding what they are looking for and then never come back.


Your organic traffic is faked

Savvy, but dishonest programmers can rewrite the traffic coming from your Ad Words, if you use them, to make it appear as organic visitors in you analytics. Unless you take a very close look, you might not realize your “organic” traffic is driven by a paid online marketing service.


Your SEO provider is brand-new

Every business has to start somewhere and no one is more in favor of the entrepreneurial spirit than I am. However, SEO companies have been known to disappear, change to something else or fail a few months into a yearlong contract. A company that is capable of satisfying customers over a long period of time says something about reliability. It’s better to work with someone who has proven they can do something as opposed to someone that is hoping they can.


When you head out onto the SEO frontier, remember the lessons of Roy Rogers and the other great cowboys. It’s the guys with the white hats that ultimately save the helpless merchants, and their websites from the outlaws in the black hats. Happy optimized trails everyone.

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