Mondays have an extremely sad correlation with the life of us SEOs. Not because they are simply ‘Mondays,’ but because they denote the start of a new week. The onset of new Action Plans like the legendary plans for Work, the seven-day Social Action Plans for clients and blablah blah and yeah! Action plan for the family too. It’s more like a script that we live by today (a protocol that cannot stop and cannot be overridden) – and even with all this routine and discipline in our lives, every weekends with a fear of a Google Apocalypse or maybe some screw ups here and some accomplishments there (talk about being modest).
Now why am I talking about Monday? Because it was Monday (4th May) last week, that I got the idea for this blog post. I had just woken up from sleep, and I opened my email (out of routine), trying to see what was in store for the week ahead. There were 27 unread emails, of which most of them had such peculiar Subjects.
Screencap Courtesy: To 4 of my awesome clients who gave me permission to share this screen without finding it offensive.
Every day there is a rise of a new fraternity on the Internet, which claims that SEO is dead, Every single day there are new “Guru” SEO firms claiming even faster rankings than pre-penguin times and EVERY SINGLE DAY there are new ‘Professional Copywriters’ who claim to do something called ‘SEO Writing.’ (What is that again?)
With all this useless hype and bullcrap sprayed on the webwork, it’s hard to understand the right from wrong. Especially in the case of webmasters (like my clients’ above) who have been victims in the past of self-proclaimed ‘SEO Gurus.’ That is when I came to a conclusion – “The fault is not in the system we live by, but in the mentality of the people that keep their hopes on it.”
I have yet to come across a webmaster that would channel dark magic (read black hat techniques) on his websites and throw a party when his website got penalty driven. But every week there are a few people who come to me in search for immediate results. What sort of immediate results?
- Can you rank my newly furnished website in a month?
- Can you do SEO writing for my blog and increase my traffic?
- Local restaurants wanting to increase their footfall.
And other such questions. I am not saying that SEO is impossible or something, but what I want to say is SEO has to be understood. It might be that you have been under the wings of wrong SEO Firms, which gives you false positive ideologies like the ones I mentioned above.
You might have bought a book on SEO from a very legit author 3 years back, which was trending back then and may have cost you a thousand dollars, but in truth – that book holds no significant value today. You can sell it for scrap much like your yearly newspaper deposits. The rules of the game has changed yet again, and we must adapt and welcome them, instead of being stuck with prehistoric notions that get us nothing but misfortune.
Take a look at this small experiment that I did:
I used Moz-SEO Bar Plugin for Firefox – It’s pretty neat.
Take a look at what I searched for and the results. Do you find any correlation between the search results to the common SEO assumptions that are prevalent?
- Rankings are directly proportional to Authority – Now I won’t say that is completely untrue, but these statements are only as true as this screenshot. Clickminded is ranking above SEW and Hobo-web in spite of having a lower authority than them. Also, Moz is in the 11th position for this keyword in spite of having DA – 92 / PA – 77.
- More Content Than Competitors Equals Better Rankings – Again this is not true at all. Especially in this case you will notice that the 1st and 2nd Websites have comparatively lot less content than the 3rd and 4th Also in terms of Content and Authority, SEW and Hobo should have a better chance for top place rankings according to the books, not to forget MOZ which has exceptional authority and content, but in the 11th position.
- SEO Content is important to Rank In SERPs – We are not living in 2013, and there is nothing called SEO Content writing in 2015. It is a thing of the past where keyword density played a crucial role in ranking for keywords. Back in 2010, the more the keywords on your page, the better were your chances to rank, but that’s now how things work nowadays. Google has this amazing system in place that scans a document for word references, synonyms, related terms and other important factors to decipher whether an article is relevant to a particular keyword or not. How do I reach this conclusion? – My search query is ‘SEO Guide in 2015,’ but you can see Rank 1 and Rank 2 don’t even have the word Guide in the Titles, however Rank 3 does have and neither of these websites have used “SEO Guide in 2015” anywhere in their 2000+ words body.
Why do you think all this doesn’t match with the current assumptions related to the SEOsphere and all the bull crap coating on it? Simple, because there are no rules in SEO.
Welcome to “We are a Professional SEO Firm” BS!
I will have 10 Seo firms pitch to you and 8 out of 10 times this is how the firms will pitch to you –
Hello and Welcome to XYZ Company. We are a Professional SEO Firm based in …… blah blah blah.
But, it is easy to fall for the big claims of the former SEO types and mistake them for professionals.
One of the best way to test the caliber of an SEO firm is by looking at their past case studies. I know case studies can sometimes be conjured to entice clients, but it will give you a fair idea of their understanding of the SEO field. ANOTHER important thing to look for when talking to a potential SEO firm is to look for guarantees. Throw in questions like –
“Can you guarantee my 1st-page rankings within a month?”
“What kind of Guarantee do you give?”
If these SEOs know what they are doing and understand this field, there is no way they can give you a biased guarantee – that too without conducting a thorough SEO audit of your website.
They might guarantee you organic and strong rank improvements for life, but to say that they can take you to the top of the pole and stick you to the moon – Now that’s where the alarm bells in your head should start ringing.
Things to Ask Yourself Before You Hire Your Next SEO
- Is the company willing to school you and involve you in their SEO process? If you show interest in learning what is happening behind the scenes are they eagerly accepting your inquiries or dodging it with SC-fi statements that make little or no sense to you?
- Will they conduct a thorough SEO Audit of your website before running your online marketing campaign? Will they provide you with an SEO report before they start the work? Avoid companies that jump directly into link-building even without auditing your current link profile and Website on-page structure.
- Do they promise high rankings and rank retention for a long period? Avoid such ‘Idiots’ at all costs.
- Do they understand that your sole purpose for ranking is to drive more business to your website? They can rank you for meaningless keywords that make no sense to your business or such keywords which hardly get searched for.
- What will you get after they have run your campaign? Will they give you a detailed report of their work along with action plans for your company to carry on the task after they have handed over the profile? If they aren’t giving you detailed reports and action plans, they are as clueless as you are about SEO.
- Are they bent on signing you into a long term contract? While this is not a clear signal and can sometimes trigger false positive thoughts, but you should look out for all the above traits first. Companies that want to sign long term contracts like six months or 1-year contracts are not completely wrong, but there are two sides to a coin always.
- Don’t look for short term or speedy rankings. Think like this – there are other companies in your industry. And imagine if all are paying different SEO companies to rank for the same keywords as you. Short term rankings will only give you a short-lived sense of pride while ranking in the long term in the right way will give your business the stronghold it needs to be established online.
- Don’t opt for Link sellers or SEOs, while claim to have their own high-value domains – these are BIG FAT RED SIGNALS you should stay away from.
- There is nothing called SEO Writing, at least it does not exist in 2015 and will never come in fashion in future. Today, Google Guidelines have become more ‘quality-content’ centric. So no more keyword stuffing and keyword density checking – all this doesn’t exist anymore. If they are offering you SEO Writing Services for your blog – this is a clear signal of their inability to follow current trends.
- There are no hidden secrets in SERPs, and there are no magic recipes. Yes there are powerful backlinks and weak or spammy backlinks, but if a company tells you that:
“We have insiders at Google and can rake you to the top like putting up a star on the Christmas tree” – then by all means turn around and (you know what to do).
“We have some secret strategies that are guaranteed to boost your sales and rankings.” No no no, if they had all that – then they wouldn’t be talking to you in the first place.
So What Should You Do?
‘Hire us! Because we are a professional SEO firm. (Shameless self-promotion spotted).
Noo!!?! Do what you think is best for your business and choose the SEO company that you think solves all your queries before starting your project.
I hope this post was helpful in some way or the other, and I also hope that other amateur SEO firms learn a lesson from this as well. I had no intentions of blowing your mind up or making you think wrong of the current SEO firm.
All the information in this thread is not pointed at anyone and is purely for educational purpose. Additionally it would be a wise decision to understand the basic tricks of the trade so that you can be aware of certain things that are important for being a part of the SEO game in 2015.
SEO is adaptive, and it will change tomorrow. Sometimes to such an extent that what you read today may be completely irrelevant tomorrow so be focused and be aware of the Google Quality Guidelines.
Here is some more food for your brain to chew on:
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