SEO - 11/12 - Digital Marketing Agency

SEO Interrogation – 8 Steps to Making Sure You Get a Quality Service

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We have all hired a provider – whether it be a cleaner, sales person or accountant – who just doesn’t deliver what you thought they would. They seemed so professional in the beginning, but now the contract is signed you  begin to think the sales pitch is the most expert part of their organisation.

In the SEO industry, particularly in a young market like Australia, providers can often be inexperienced. As the market matures, like in the UK or the US, the number of experts increases and the less ‘quality’ services are gradually driven out of the market. But in the meantime, how can you choose an SEO provider? Well, despite our obvious bias, we have put together some checks and questions below, to try and narrow down your choice…

  1. Time frames – what does the provider have to say about how long it might take to get your rankings to the top? SEO is not a quick process. It takes time to make changes to your site and build up the necessary content and links. Then it takes more time for this to be taken into account by Google. Any company which says this is a quick process is stretching the truth. No quality SEO project will go for less than 6 months, unless it is a training course.
  2. Guarantees– No company can guarantee you a top ranking in Google because Google and Google alone controls the rankings (or whichever search engine you are talking about).  SEO companies should be able to make estimates, or show you how they have achieved results for similar clients, but they cannot make guarantees (unless it is something like a money-back guarantee).
  3. Low Cost – Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. If you pay a low cost for SEO services, then you need to ask what you would ask any other provider – why are you cheaper? Is it the labour quality? The number of hours? There are good reasons why some SEO providers are cheaper than others, you just need to find out what exactly your money is paying for.
  4. Keywords – check that the key terms they are promising to work on aren’t low-volume, low value, terms which are easy to optimise for. Also keep this in mind if they are trying to prove their track record – achieving number 1 for “Cheap buckets Mt Isa” isn’t showing the kinds of skills you will require for more commercial terms.
  5. Links – ask about their linking strategies. You don’t want your company’s brand to be damaged through inappropriate association and you don’t want search engines to penalise you for spammy links. You need to ask them how they will get high quality, relevant links to your site
  6. Training – make sure they are transparent and ask how they will impart SEO knowledge to your organisation, so that you can take it on as part of your general online business practice.
  7. Project Plan – SEO isn’t a one-off effort. It needs to be ongoing so that your site remains competitive.  A long term project plan is a must, and something that a flash-in-the-pan provider is unlikely to provide.
  8. Reporting – A reputable SEO company should give you all the information you need to see where your money is going. This could be rankings, traffic and conversions, but should also outline all the work they are doing on your site every week or month.

Black Hat SEO Tricks

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Black Hat SEO is a method of undertaking Search Engine Optimisation which is considered risky, unethical and unprofessional. This would be because they either break the search engine regulations or misrepresent content between search engine spiders and search engine users.

Most large companies, or those with good reputations, would not want to undertake black hat SEO on their business sites due to the possibility of their site being removed from the search engines (which would be disastrous to most businesses), or due to the fact that some black hat techniques can make their site look spammy or unprofessional.

MooMu Media provides SEO services to businesses who use their website to improve their bottom line, businesses whose websites are important to them. For that reason, we don’t undertake any black hat or even spammy-looking SEO on our clients sites.

Businesses need to be careful when using agencies that do use black hat SEO techniques, and need to understand the possible ramifications of them. Most professional SEO agencies will not use them, but if you are worried you need to make sure your agency is 100% transparent on the work they do, and also check if they are doing any of these…

  • Keyword stuffing – excessive and inappropriate placement of keywords on your page. This might be either visible to users (which is spammy and unprofessional), or as invisible text (same colour as the background, this is twice as bad!)
  • Doorway pages – a landing page built for seearch engines, that a user never actually sees
  • Link Farming – where your site joins a group where you all link to each other
  • Hidden content – using comment tags or no script tags
  • Meta keyword stuffing-excessive use of keywords in the meta data
  • Inappropriate meta keywords – rather than using targetted lists, you just list every word you can think of that might ever be relevant – this is spammy and relatively useless.

As a general rule, proper Search Engine Optimisation should always mean improvements to your site. So you know it will be a white hat SEO technique if, even without benefits to search engine rankings, it would still be beneficial to do it.

SEO – Google Helps Big Brands

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For the last few weeks there has been gossip on the internet (Sphinn, Search Engine Land, Twitter, WebMasterWorld), regarding a recent change to the Google algorithm. The SEO conspiracy theorists had suggested that Google’s latest update had given big brands a push up the rankings.

This was all speculation until Matt Cutts released a video on YouTube outlining what he calls the “Vince Change” (emphasising that it is not an update, just a small change, one of around 300-400 small changes they make per year).

The majority of the video deals with this one question posted to him:

Can you verify that Google is putting more weight on ‘brands’ in search engine rankings? If the answer is Yes, what is Google’s definition of a brand?

He answered this by saying that Google doesn’t consider Brand at all, and that as per their history – Google simply considers things like trust, authority, reputation, high quality and page rank when determining the rankings.

He added that if big brands are benefiting from the latest Google ‘changes’, then this would be because they are trusted and highly relevant, and for SEO-ers to continue competing we should just keep doing what we always were – making good quality content and good quality sites that make us an authority.

Really, that video did not help at all…

Personally, I am not sure how I feel about the new changes to the algorithm.  It was pre-empted last year by some comments made by Google’s Eric Schmidt saying the internet was becoming a cess pool, and good content from trusted brands is needed to maintain quality on the internet – and in Google search rankings I suppose.

Brands like Dell would have huge sites, quality content, authority, and lots of backlinks, so I am not sure what the issue is for them ranking highly, they deserve to.

Also, it is pointless for SEO practitioners to cry ‘unfair!’ on a company’s private technology, it isn’t our ‘right’ to know how Google does what it does. Google developed their algorithm, they can do what they like with it. If consumers don’t like it, they will stop using it.

So SEO-ers will continue to wonder what it is exactly that has pushed the brands up the rankings, and Matt Cutts unfortunately did not provide any further insight. But with SEO there have never been any clear cut guidelines or rules, our work evolves through trial and error, experimentation and observation, to see what works and what doesn’t. This is just another factor to throw into the mix.

SEO – A Great Free Rank Checking Tool

By | SEO, Uncategorized | No Comments

Today I have started using a new free rank checking tool for my search engine optimisation needs – the Rank Checker produced by SEO Book.

Previously I have always used inhouse built or paid rank checking tools, but now that we have set up on our own, I am trying to economise in as many ways as I can, so today it is by trying to see how well a free tool will suit our commercial needs.

First of all, the best thing about this tool is obviously that it is free. So lets just get that straight first off.

Next, it is super easy to install, as an add-on to Google Firefox. Simply download in two seconds, then restart Firefox. Then in your Firefox Tools menu, you will have the Rank Check option.

In there, I just first went in and changed all my options to Australia, I set the check timer to 3 seconds apart (to try and be on the safe side of getting blocked), and I made sure none of the results would be personalised.

Then, I opened up the tool.

Why its great is that it is pretty fast for a free tool, you get results almost instantly depending on the delay you have set it to.

While you can add multiple search terms at a time (v.v. useful), you can only seem to add one domain at a time (ok, but not ideal). You can also download the reports into CSV, which is almost an essential for any SEO practitioner.

You can save any of your reports and then go into the Tools- Rank Checker -Scheduled Tasks, and this means that you can run the report every day if you like.

Now, the results might not be 100% accurate, but then, with multiple data centres and changing algorithms, what tool can say it is truly accurate? I think the accuracy here is totally acceptable given it is free.

Meanwhile, I haven’t been using it for very long, so I could come up with some objections, but first impressions for this tool are very – impressive.

On a side note – while running this tool today, I felt the guilt creeping up on me due to that post I had previously written on the energy inefficiency of Google queries. SEO practitioners should be feeling very guilty about their automated rank checking which is probably the equivalent of boiling thousands of kettles! Reading that article is certainly making me think twice, and making me more conscious of what checks I do and don’t need to make.

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