Video: SEO Snake Oil


Today we're going to be talking about something that I like to call snake oil SEO. I'm sure you're familiar with it, whether you've seen these guys on Facebook, or you've seen ads where they're promising that you're going to get the top of the page on your search engine results by doing certain tactics that on the surface seem okay, but when you really start digging into it are either outdated or just don't have the impact.

We've run into this with our own clients where we see them on a retainer with a company and they're paying $500, $600, $1000, $2000 dollars a month for SEO services, and what they're really getting is an initial set up, where a company will come in and say do landing pages for each of the communities that a company provides their service for. And so you have 20, 30 landing pages that have essentially the same copy with different city names on them and that’s pretty much the only tactic they've done for you.

In many cases they'll submit you to directories, and they'll submit to Yelp, and maybe even set up a very basic Google business listing for you. And that's good (although the city pages are debatable because some of that is going to be duplicate content), but then they walk away and they're charging you this monthly fee or charging our clients a monthly fee, when they're not doing anything. So you're just paying them an ongoing basis and they may provide monthly reporting, they may say hey here's how you've improved over time and we're taking the credit for it even though after that initial setup all they've done is provide reporting. They've done nothing else for you.

So what we have to talk to our clients about and what you should be aware of is what are these companies really doing for you on a monthly basis? At a minimum they should be providing a certain set of services, and we're going to talk about those services today.

So what are the things your SEO agency should be doing for you at a minimum? They're making sure that your site is searchable by Google and what that means is that Google spiders can come in and easily access the content that's on your site. They're making sure that all of the technical stuff is set up correctly for your site, like the robots.txt files, that you have sitemaps, that you have a hierarchy on your site, that you don't have duplicate content. All of the technical aspects that make sure that the content is getting into Google's hands.

The first thing that they should be doing is to make sure that your site is spiderable, that Google gets to the content; if they're not doing that they're not doing their job. Now, there are some companies that will use plugins to do that, and that's fine. If you have a WordPress site and they're using something like Yoast or a tool like that, that helps to optimize your site, then they're doing their job. They're helping you set that up it's something that maybe you aren't going to do yourself.

There's other things they can be doing as well, like helping you to optimize your images, helping you compress them make sure that your site is loading quickly; all of the technical work for optimizing your site.

The second thing that's really important that your agency agency should be doing with you is helping you build out your content. So if you're paying a retainer to this company and they're not doing the technical work on a monthly basis, they're not doing submissions on a monthly basis, then they need to be helping you develop content for your site and that could come in the shape of blogs, if you have a retail site it may be product descriptions, or category level descriptions; but it's content that's gonna expand upon what Google is spidering it gives them fresh keywords and fresh content for users to make your site compelling and and usable. Those are all things that should be an ongoing process, it's not going to happen overnight and that's something that a retainer should address.

Okay, so if they're not doing the technical implementation, and they're not doing content, a third thing they could potentially be doing for you is building links to your site. And this is an area that could also be dangerous for you because building those links can be very blackhat if they're using paid sites or if they're using scammy directories, or spammy websites that have no real domain value. Part of that building of links should be going after blogs in your industry and seeing if they would be willing to read or link to content on your site that's usable or relevant, it might be products that you're linking to, etc.

Fourth, they really should be monitoring what's happening with your site and making recommendations, not just showing you a dashboard, not showing you where they think you should be ranking, but actually doing a competitive analysis and see where your competitors are ranking and for what keywords. Who are linking to your competitors? What's working in your industry? Where are areas that you can optimize and expand on that are going to get you a lot of bang for your buck? Maybe you can't compete with broad keywords; they should be telling you that type of thing. Maybe they should be looking for long tail keywords that you can easily build content around or focus on.

If your agency has only ever talked to you about your strategy during the initial consultation and then they're just sending you a bill every month, along with maybe some reports and dashboards, they're not doing anything for you, and you're getting snake oil. They're not doing the work that they should be doing. Don't sign a contract that's just vague SEO services; have them outline exactly what they're going to be doing for you on a monthly basis, exactly what the impact that's going to have, and make them prove their value.

If you feel like you're just getting snake oil, instead of a true SEO program, contact us today and we'll conduct a free evaluation. Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or 440-701-6665.

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