Yes, you need to optimise your site for SEO. No, that SEO agency you've been in touch with may actually be telling you lies. Big lies that could actually hurt rather than help you in your mission for search engine rankings, traffic, leads, customers ... and profits.
Search Engine Optimisation, otherwise known as SEO, is quite simply a necessity these days for your marketing strategy. In our internet-dominated world, it's quickly become the most indispensable way to build your brand, get you traffic, slash your advertising spend, find your target audience, boost your credibility, and stay ahead of your competitors.
But because it's so important, and because it's such a specialist marketing niche, the world of SEO has attracted plenty of bad guys. From the off, you should watch out for SEO companies or agencies who:
* Offer ridiculously low rates
* Fail to provide references
* Claim to work directly with Google.
If you struggle to spot those early red flags, that could be your fast-track to a dead-end on the Google and other search engine algorithms. But there's also a plethora of major lies that only the dodgiest of dodgy SEO companies and representatives will tell you - and if you hear one of them ... run away!
Lie #1: "We can definitely guarantee that..."
Good SEO is as close to a guarantee as you can get for quality traffic, a reduced reliance on ads (and more clicks anyway), and a competitive advantage. Nonetheless, that 'G-word' is a major red flag, because we can assure you that these are promises that this SEO agency has no intention of keeping.
The best SEO specialists in the world understand that the way search engines rank their results is in a constant and complex state of flux, and while persistent, hard work always pays off, those trying to trick you into their books with impossible guarantees should be instantly ignored.
Lie #2: "You'll be Number 1 on Google in no time!"
Now, don't get us wrong - number 1 should always be what guides those who specialise in SEO. Why? Because it really is achievable. But just as with Lie #1, claims like that are screeching, screaming red flags - because, as we suggested, even if you get there, there's no guarantee you'll be there for long - if only because your site's relevance to the search term could change.
And at the end of the day, while specialist help with SEO is something every site should get, it's not the agency that's in the ultimate driver's seat of the search engines - that's in the hands of the search engines themselves. Of course, you can get there with awesome, strategic, relevant, popular content - but even Novak Djokovic isn't guaranteed that number 1 spot, is he?
Lie #3: "You'll be listed instantly!"
When you put your SEO in the hands of a serious professional, it's true that the benefits of great content, site design, audience engagement and everything else they'll do for you will start to work quickly. But promises of instant success are ludicrous - because Search Engine Optimisation is more of an art than some sort of mathematical process or trick. Gone are the days when you could stuff keywords and leap up the rankings - in fact, methods like that have now become the easiest way to really tick Google off!
But it's not just that: The Google rankings actually change at intervals, so a proper SEO company will effectively use their time to really spruce up your site and make amazing plans for amazing content - and you'll get the results when your site deserves it!
Lie #4: "We'll get you directly listed with 100s of search engines!"
Again, promises like this are preying on those who don't understand how SEO works these days. While it's true that getting listed with all the major search engines used to require directly requesting that your website is indexed, that was then - and those days are gone and pretty much irrelevant now. Now, getting your site indexed can actually happen automatically, simply by it getting linked to from somewhere else.
So this sort of promise really is a bright-red flag, because it's possible that the dodgy SEO guy you're talking to actually believes it - and that would also make them a dinosaur as well as a charlatan!
Lie #5: "We promise you 1000+ inbound links!"
Now, we've saved this one for last - for a very good reason. Why? Because we don't just think it's complete nonsense: We think that if they even try to follow through with it, you could do untold damage to your site's standing with all the major search engine players. The reason for this is simple: while inbound links from elsewhere on the 'net are really great for your ranking, the extremely clever algorithms of today will definitely recognise the game that the dodgy SEO-people are up to.
Among these games are inbound links or referrals from totally phoney pages, or - even worse - dozens of so-called 'link farms' that are artificially created solely to try to trick the Google system. The problem is that you simply can't trick the Google robots - in fact, even innocently swapping a link with someone can actually be flagged. So if your site is identified as definitely dodgy, you could be permanently blacklisted. And when that happens, trust us: Your dodgy SEO guys will claim to have had nothing to do with it. In fact, they'll run for the hills with your cash in their pocket and your site, brand and business in tatters.
SEO: There's no substitute for hard work
At the end of the day, there simply is no substitute for hard work, specialist know-how, experience, proven results - and dozens of happy, thriving customers. Yes, we understand that when you simply want your site, business and brand to thrive, fast-talking and grand promises can be tempting. But a truly great SEO specialist or company will never dazzle with claims of having 'cracked the code', promising to ace the system and fast-track you to number 1.
The best in the business will only ever offer you calm, specific targets they're aiming at; they'll be recommended by mouth and be able to show you real results and feedback; and they'll seem to care about your long-term success rather than the quick buck that they are after. Good luck!