How To Do Things Wrong (or So You Hired The Wrong SEO Firm)

It’s probably not your fault.  You were checking off one more must-have while running a local business in the age of digital marketing.  Everyone needs an internet marketing budget, right?  Well, we’d be silly to say otherwise considering what we do, but actually most businesses are throwing good money out the window if they aren’t employing an aggressive and tactical campaign.  

Our value proposition at SearchNexus is proudly built on differentiating ourselves from the not so ethical offerings of some of the SEO behemoths out there.  Without naming names, I’m sure several of you will recognize the pitfalls discussed below.

You Don’t Own Your Website

It sounded too good to be true.  They offered you a FREE website with a one or two year contract and they’ll even host it for you!  What sweethearts!  Now you’re on the hook for a massive monthly retainer, your phone isn’t ringing, you aren’t booking any more appointments than you did before, but you get these fancy reports with confusing metrics about your web presence and your “reach” and “impressions”.

If you want to take control of your internet marketing or move on to a competent marketing agency (ahem!) you are starting from scratch with no website.  Always own your own web properties whenever possible.  We recommend hosting them on your own hosting account.

We talk about “no contracts” at SearchNexus for this purpose.  While we might spell out exactly what you are getting by working with us in an agreement, it will always be clear that if you aren’t happy with our services or want to make a change for whatever reason we will transition you without hassle.  If we can’t grow your business we don’t want your money.

They Work With Your Competition

There’s a reason that our tagline is “Exclusive Local Marketing,” it’s because when you are our client, you are family.  And family doesn’t work against family.  It is a conflict of interest to work with two competitors in a local space, because only one can be at the top.  We call our organic SEO strategy “Match and Exceed” meaning that we make sure you are present everywhere online that your competition is visible and then some.  When you dominate your local market, you don’t give away your secret sauce.

They Poisoned Your Reputation With Unethical Shortcuts to Nowhere

There are a lot of shortcuts that used to work in the early days of search engines (Ah, the good ole days), but as algorithms get more sophisticated these tactics hurt more than they help.  In fact, they can get you blacklisted from Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Keyword Stuffing

One of the worst offenders is keyword stuffing.  Repeating the same phrases over and over again in order to be crawled and seen as an authority for a search term does nothing for your visitors and Google, et al. is determined to serve up helpful results in order to cater to their end-users.

Fake Reviews

Just don’t do it!  It might be tempting to try and catch up with the big dogs in your area by trying to create hundreds of fake reviews.  There are “services” you can find online that promise you hundreds of 5 star reviews for peanuts.  Run don’t walk.  Do not do this.  Portals like Google and Yelp! Have sophisticated ways to weed out unnatural reviews.  Instead, focus on soliciting reviews from customers that you know are your advocates.  Our account representatives can point you in the right direction with approaches like incentives for your on-site technicians, receptionists and account representatives or special discounts unlocked by leaving you a review (just don’t say 5 star reviews, any review).

Cloaking and Hidden Text

You see less and less of this these days, but this is another way web developers and black hat SEO types try to game the system.  Cloaking entails using coding tricks to serve one thing to search engine crawlers and another thing to visitors in order to game the system and draw in more clicks.  Similarly, the practice of hiding text and links by matching the font color to the background color is not only unethical, but it hasn’t worked for gaming the system in over a decade.  

Spammy Backlinks

Search engines value high-quality, relevant backlinks as indicators of trust and authority.  There was a day when there was strength in numbers and having a link to your local plumbing business on a blog about house cats in Norway would add weight to your web presence.  If an SEO service offers you a certain quantity of links, this can be a big red flag.  Sometimes they are operating a large link farm of low quality sites and they batch add your hyperlink to all of these spam sites with a click.  When someone talks about listing your website on directories, ask to see the URLs and check them out yourself.  It is usually easy to see a bad fit for your business at first glance.

The long and short of it is there is no free lunch with local SEO.  The landscape has moved towards businesses themselves or trusted representatives (like SearchNexus) actively participating online and interacting with their target audience.  We work closely with our clients to integrate the best methods for maintaining a healthy presence online.

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