Monthly Archives: November 2009

10 Hilarious Things A Typical SEO Company Will Tell You!

The mass majority of SEO companies out there have no idea what they are doing. Most of them make outlandish claims, which would be funny to anyone who knows even a little bit about SEO.

Why do most SEO companies have no idea how SEO really works? Because SEO is a largely unregulated field in the US and Canada. Also, most SEO companies are based in India or Eastern Europe, where there are no regulations at all (for the most part). You should not be surprised if you find out that most SEO companies are run by college students, who are just as clueless about SEO as you are.

Anyway, I have taken the time to go through and ask some SEO companies for quotes for some of my websites. Here are some of their replies which will definitely amuse you. I have pasted them word for word without making any edits:

1. Yes, we provide 100% guarantee that you will rank on first page for your keyword in 1 month because we give you lot of links.

It is ironic that there was no mention of a MONEY-BACK guarantee in their claim.

2. Directory submissions and article submissions are the easiest and best techniques for getting number 1 ranking in Yahoo, Google and MSN.

Apparently, they know no other techniques in order to get higher rankings. The techniques they are using will ensure that the website gets filtered or penalized.

3. Yes, some of our links are NoFollow but even they help with SEO in Google!

Golden words. You should write them down.

4. We do not employ any spam in our link building. We only post links on forums and on blogs by commenting.

AKA spamming. How do you put links on forums and comments if you are not spamming. Sure, this can be done in a non-spammy way, but I have NEVER seen this being done without the website owner going crazy because of spam.

5. Google loves links no matter where you get them from. All links are important and increasing link popularity is the best way to go.

Yes, it is for this reason that websites get banned and penalized. Get 100,000 from FFA websites.

6. Yes, blog comments carry a lot of weight in search engines, even if they are NoFollow.

Seriously?

7. What is NoFollow? Please explain.

LOL! This one cracked me up.

8. Yes, we definitely ask for reciprocal links because Google likes this practice a lot. Sometimes, this is all we do because it is effective.

And then you wonder why the website is getting filtered or penalized. Talk about begging the search engines to breathe down your website`s neck.

9. Yes, doing pay per click ads is a really good way to do SEO for your website.

By the gods, he speaks the truth!

10. We provide 10,000 links from article websites for only $74.99 per month!

Yeap, $74.99 per month is the way to go!

SEO = Social Engine Optimization

From 2000-2003, SEO was a simply game to win, where experienced SEO consultants (and even extreme newbies) and techies could easily manipulate the search engine rankings for their clients. To be honest, at that time it was very simple to get good rankings for nearly any keyword term because:

1. Search engines, due to the presence of a lot of loopholes, were extremely easy to game.

2. There were not a whole lot of online marketers involved in the game.

These days, SEO is turning out to be more related to the social aspects of the web as opposed to simply being a mechanical algorithm followed by a computer. For that reason, I gave this post the corny name of Social Engine Optimization.

If you following the search industry news,  you would understand that search engines are now far difficult to game. Why? Because they incorporate a huge social aspect of search, which is difficult to falsely replicate.

What this simply means is that your website needs to generate public appeal to get to the top ranking position AND to stay at that position.

I have scanned the top ranking websites for a lot of keyword terms, and have yet to find more than 2 websites which did not deserve their high ranking positions. By the way, the 2 websites which are the exception to the rule, were so crappy that I was amazed at the fact that they were ranked on the first page. I digress…

Here are a few points how you can tell that search is now more `social`:

1. Social bookmarking and news websites: Social bookmarking and social news websites like Digg are getting more and more popular today. Were there any websites like these in 2000? Nope! These websites have taken the web by storm. Any story which gets popular on Digg and similar websites will receive thousands of visitors and will ultimately rank fairly high in the search engines.

2. Changed algorithms: Google now takes into account whether websites provide users with good user experience or not. If you somehow got a crappy website to rank at number 1 for your keyword terms, it will be manually or algorithmically edited to rank much lower if the visitors to your website press the back button on the browser many times. This is a very simple aspect of using public appeal to gauge a websites position and appeal.

3. Natural link building: In 2002, you could point 2000 links with similar anchor text to a web-page and have it ranked number 1 in 1-2 months easily. Try it now and you would be lucky not to get the website banned. Natural link building is another step towards the social aspect of SEO, since search engines now look for links coming from different locations and try to figure out whether any artificial manipulation is involved. Another reason why other people need to vouch for you to rank high.

4. Viral ranks high: Anything which goes viral will have a ton of backlinks pointing to it, simply because people like it. This dramatically helps the website increase in SERPs. In contrast, you could try and get backlinks manually and it will take 10X the time to rank high. The lesson? Get other people to vouch for you!

I hope you understand that ranking high now takes a lot more than pointing backlinks to your website. You need to generate public appeal for your website as well as good quality links to stay ahead in the game.

Even if you do rank number 1 for a website which has no public appeal, you will lose your rankings soon enough, simply because people do not like your website!

The Wrong Marketing Strategy Will Get You Killed!

I was reading a report regarding business statistics, which said something along the lines of 90% of new start-ups do not make it beyond the 5-year mark.

It got me thinking.. if the businesses operate in such huge markets (most of the times), how can the vast majority of them just go broke?

After looking at a couple of successful online marketing and publicity companies, it dawned on me: Most successful companies are using an extremely different approach to market themselves.

Allow me to elaborate: Whereas, for a certain niche, most of the competitors are suggesting rock bottom prices with the best deals possible, that unique competitor is saying our prices are much higher but you can expect our work to not be crap.

Ironically, it is those companies who have a unique selling proposition which stay afloat through difficult times.

The marketing problem, in the end, mostly comes down to pricing. And no, pricing is not exactly what you learnt in marketing classes. The real-world is a lot different from what they teach you in class. If the marketing professors actually knew how to make marketing work, most of them would be making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. In the end, pricing and marketing both need to be tested and are not what your professors tells you.

That being said, price differentials can affect you in different ways, depending on how you market yourself:

1. You are the lowest cost service provider: This is the category most of the companies (according to me) fall into. The lowest price company must generate a lot more sales and therefore make their competition extremely difficult to breathe, in the end driving them out of business, right? Nope! With this strategy, you are just hoping to generate such a huge volume of sales so that you do not incur a loss. Chances are, if you are the lowest cost producer, your profit margin is slim and as a result your service will be crap.

But hold on, there is another way how it affects the companies. Low prices attract people who are looking for a bargain,  which most of the time is not one available anywhere in the market. These buyers will ask you a thousand questions, bargain on an already low price, place a very small order and expect a miracle to happen. When they are disappointed, they will ask for a refund. And when you do not issue a refund, they will talk trash.

This strategy does not look too attractive now, does it?

2. You are a premium service provider and charge a lot more than the competition: The problem here is simple. Because you are charging a lot, you are trying to service the top of the market so 95% of the market share is lost, because 95% of the people out there are looking for a bargain.

But the 5% who actually understand the value that you will provide are much more receptive of your services and will appreciate them. Most of the times, it is less troublesome (and more profitable) to attend to a small number of people.

But this approach assumes that you are an expert at what you do. If you know nothing, you can expect your clients to come back and ask for a refund, give you crap AND talk negatively about you to other people. In the end, the 5% market share goes down to 1%.

2. You charge above the average price, but effectively differentiate your services: Smart firms operate in this area because they can charge a higher price and do not have to be the top-of-the-line in their field. The way companies differentiate themselves is by focusing on:

-Exceptional customer service

-Unconditional refund guarantees (risky approach)

-Quick turnaround time

-A special skill that the competition has not yet acquired.

It is fairly easy to say that this segment of any market is fairly larger than 10-15%, which makes the companies earn enough profit to sustain their operations.

Also, the customers who are willing to pay more for a service are simply more receptive to criticisms and less prone to requesting refunds.

Here are some conclusions I have drawn based on my research:

1. Competing on price normally gets firmed killed

2. Servicing people who ARE NOT looking for a bargain will provide the best results

3. Most of your cash will only come from 20-30% of your customers.

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