BEWARE SEO Service Scams & Dangers.
SEO Tips and Standards

Don't let Search Engine Optimization and Promotion companies damage your website and not help your search engine rankings. Many claim to be experts. Most are not.

Tips and Standards for preventing web site and business damage, some of it invisible to you

An SEO company can damage your website- Don't bypass your Webmaster responsible for Code and Files Integrity and Security:

Below we explain why no SEO so-called expert can promise your getting to the top of any ranking except some obscure keyword phrases that almost no one uses. That's just an old "trick" to get you to sign. We explain why some SEO people are likely to destroy code integrity, and version and backups control. We explain that organic (unpaid) ranking is extremely unreliable and unpredictable, with Google's constant changes in algorithms and unscrupulous and heavy competitors.

We don't like having well-written, carefully-cleaned code MESSED up by some SEO people who operate as if they were the only people involved. Too often we see site owners misled by "fast talkers" who know a little about SEO, but NOT much about website integrity nor proper marketing. That's done by testing and improvement cycles integrated with refinement of the web strategy. That includes different target visitor's paths through the site.

SEO/SEM can NOT stand apart from the structure of the site, and refinement of the web marketing strategy and testing. Any SEO person telling you different is looking for a quick buck with a quick "Fix" that might help a little, but risks damaging the website AND the business direction. It's a shortcut. There are no shortcuts to proper headline, appeal and content testing, and audience segmenting/targeting. If your SEO person isn't talking about matching customer segments/needs to product features, and testing of appeals-Headlines---then you may be making a serious mistake. That's a RED FLAG. If you've read our other articles, you know exactly what we mean.

At the very least, the SEO or PPC person should familiarize themselves with the web developer to determine whether they have CURRENT knowledge of SEO and PPC (we do) and consult and coordinate with them, such as submitting changes via the web designer. Failure to talk about that or do that is a major RED FLAG.

Real professional SEO or PPC management firms begin around $700 per month (except local SEO, less). PPC management done well... costs about the same, but click costs run two to four times more than management of the PPC campaigns.

The average is about $1200-$1800 per month for SEM/social media management for a fair-sized ($20-100 Million sales) company. Average for national coverage with a slight larger company is around $3000-$4000 per month. SEO management and work often run near the same as PPC management, but organic SEO results are unreliable-unpredictable and often disappointing, unless the business is already large and popular, in a popular topic.

You will get offers that begin below the above by some not-so-professional firms like some we've evaluated, major names in the business who looked great, sounded good, but were not very good. SO, buyer beware. You may be better off getting their suggestions and developing your own program with a professional web development firm with a web marketing arm.

Too often you'll find an SEO organization that is a front to a Web Development company seeking to "capture you" with SEO bait. They may suggest "changes only they know about" and eventually urge ReDesign of the site, usually using faddish CMS, generator or hosted systems. That's not only not needed if the original web design company was good and knowledgeable, it's dangerous as we explain. You should have picked a better web design company first who says SEO is integral to the design and improvement process. Web design is not an afterthought to needed SEO improvements, nor should SEO be an afterthought to design. The web design company should urge planning to integrate SEO improvements into the original design by "campaigns" testing cycles, at least for Headlines-appeals. PPC is a great tool for that along with Google's other tools.

At the very least, ask your trusted web designer their opinion about what the SEO/PPC company is suggesting or asking for---BEFORE you commit money. We've heard and seen some really dumb things that prove most of these companies don't really know much, such as

  • claiming they will get you on top of Google pages (for what? 3 obscure phrases?)
  • using WYSIWYG editors on custom sites or wanting to convert your site to a CMS sytem
    (run the other way- HTML sites propagate better with less work, risks and upgrade costs);
  • never mentioning site integrity, backups, version/copyrights control;
  • misconceptions about hybrid HTML/Script sites and links readability;
  • misunderstanding of proper Shopping Cart design for descriptions/content;
  • claiming that social media is going to get you ranked highly; (when? 2023?)
  • claiming that submitting your links to hundreds of directories will get you traffic;
  • claiming that multiple releases, reviews and blog posts will get you ranked high (but using the same or almost the same text which will get you penalized by Google);
  • not really talking much about actual traffic or conversions
  • never mentioning crucial importance of Google's Webmaster Tools and actual search terms used
  • never mentioning the many free tools on the web for analizing your site (they pretend to give you hundreds of dollars of analysis);
  • not analizing and discussing competitors and unique selling proposition / competitive advantages;
  • not asking about differentiation and focus and company strengths (Google's uniqueness bonus);
  • never even thinking about or mentioning incremental, iterative testing of appeals using ads to test content;(as if they knew what that was)
  • never focusing on prospect segment's different needs for content /appeals / headlines/ bolding/ sections/ landing pages'
  • never discussing prospect segment paths throught the site
  • not designing landing pages for such visitor-type paths
  • never discussing importance of site "integration", flow and "Drill down" for better navigation
Here's an actual SEO Expert giving you similar examples of SEO nonsense by others. AND on and on ad nauseum. Notice they NEVER give a firm clear GUARANTEE of CONVERSIONS INCREASES, or even quality traffic increases. ANYONE can get you a bunch of USELESS UNQUALIFIED TRAFFIC for about $100 per month, in about a week. If you don't know to focus on these kinds of points and questions, then you're not qualified to hire them. Get someone who is (us for example)

Failure to Coordinate with your Web Developer

Management can't be much blamed for not knowing what most Web Experts don't know in a new changing high tech environment. But NOW you know: Failure to seek input from your current professional web designer who built and maintained your well-performing website (and who should have their own SEO/PPC department) would show that:

  • You either don't know the importance of their opinion or their role, and
  • You failed to hire the proper web developer who has a focus on Site Optimization and Promotion in the first place (solve that now)
YOU ARE IN GOOD COMPANY, on the changing Web Frontier--- where FEW managers know any of this, and the SEO firms they hire don't either!
They don't even know what they don't know, and don't care. (Like the joke: Asked what is Ignorance and Apathy? "We don't know and we don't care"!)

THE ISSUE IS--- now hiring this kind of wanna-be "expert" to do your SEO would be an even worse mistake. Likewise for a totally separate PPC manager.

They should at least be working in coordination with the web designer.

The Best Solution: A Professional Web Design AND Promotion company

The best improvement and promotion methods are carefully-planned testing campaigns based on improving page Titles, Descriptions, Headlines, Bold areas, landing pages relevance and focus on target audience segments using tested advertising copy in headlines, subheads and content relating to benefits, needs and feelings, showing the product or service in use. You must prove you are the best source. A professional web developer can help you do all that usually at less cost than the typical SEO or PPC expert who can not guarantee more profitable sales. (Also because they likely will be gone, or want two years to prove it, knowing you turned your site over to them, are at a disadvantage and probably don't know what to do.)

So Here is the List of SEO/ PPC Warnings and Tips:

1) Don't let a Web Site promotion or SEO company near your website without knowing all about them and their reputation, how long they have been in business and what warranty or guarantee they have against damage to your web site or not performing as promised. If they are not first and foremost concerned about versions and backup control-integrity---show them the door.

2) Don't ever let a Search Engine Optimization or PPC consultant (pay per click) company do ANY direct work on your web site for several reasons, but most important because they often use Editors that change existing HTML or XHTML or PHP code in ways that change some existing code and add cryptic code which can wreak havoc and confuse your web designer who has to make upgrades and fixes. This can cost you a lot of money later as they wade through an unreadable mess to fix it and align it with other versions.

If you ignore and insult your website developer-maintainer enough and mess up their hard diligent efforts to clean up code, AND you ignore the importance of backups, they may decide that there is no point in being involved any further. A high priority should be site integrity.

3) You must have a good web designer on call because most sites need updates for server, browser and code upgrades compatibility. Many sites and shopping carts are being broken by hackers, SEO companies and even hosting companies. A good web designer keeps backups of recent versions of web sites, like "snapshots" in time, also to maintain code integrity against hackers and for copyright control. Never let an SEO company bypass your web designer and webmaster.

Web Strategy, Website Design and SEO/PPC Research and Optimization are Related Integral Iterative Processes:

4) a) Website design, promotion and testing are integral processes which include planning, research and placement of SEO content and search phrases for optimization. SEO and keyword research should be integral with your web marketing positioning strategy and not some independent process. Research for SEO content and keywords is an aid to refinement of your positioning. That is, they are related and iterative processes. (Iterative means repeating cyclical phases of improvement.)

b) Novice search engine ranking wanna-be experts often do more harm than good. Some know a bit about sprinkling some content words or tags, but many don't know where to put them nor all the ways to promote in an orchestrated manner. The all-important first few lines of a website home and landing pages must be matched and coordinated with the business's strategy, positioning and appeal testing balanced against resources and internet competition realities.

Only a full service web development, design and maintenance company with a web-marketing arm knowledgeable of business, internet marketing and technical limitations can best coordinate and execute an SEO program while maintaining web site integrity and maintainability. Good web designers work closely with their own web marketing arm and the business's marketing liaison to create and follow a master plan that optimizes the balance of many factors, including important maintainability and integrity of the web site.

Common Signs of SEO Company Scams, Dangers or Incompetence:

5) SEO companies sometimes promise to get you "top ranking" in several categories, but may use less than "optimum" methods and phrases, including those which most people seldom enter. Anyone can come up with unique longer phrases where you can be number one for about $.50 per click, or by other scam methods below next.

We are not the only ones warning you about SEO and PPC experts who are't expert or who want to rip you off. For example, read these good articles from About.com: 12 Warning Signs of a Bad SEO Company (you have to advance pages) and How to Avoid Being Taken by SEO Scams and Bad SEO Companies. These offer more tips to being a smart consumer to avoid SEO scams.

6) The other big scam of some SEO Optimization company is to get you top ranked on search engines that just "don't matter" that most people don't use. That goes beyond a no-brainer that anyone can do for very little cost and no expertise and is of little value.

There are numerous scams or misunderstandings relating to "inbound links" placement such as submitting you to 500 directories. Don't do it !! Some placements of the site's links in the wrong places can HURT your organic rankings. Links placed in low quality "anything goes" directories and search engines hurt rankings.

Worse are link rings and link exchanges. Don't let them do it! (Only a few quality search engines and "quality niche Directories" help ranking). Remember this is only about organic ranking. If an SEO person is talking paid PPC management, buckle up for a rough ride and hold onto your wallet if they are not very good at what they do. (Don't get us wrong, we recommend a hybrid paid and organic approach, done slowly, small and carefully by us or those we approve, but only in combination with an integrated approach within the web strategy, to refine it.)

7) Another big scam is Pay per click (PPC) consultants or Web site Promotion companies who claim to be a "Google Expert" or authorized Google consultant but who actually don't know much else about business, not enough about what they claim to be experts on, and not nearly enough about your business and web site design, code and browser compliance and site integrity requirements and the larger web marketing plan that only a dedicated longer-term expert web marketing company can provide, based on internet business standards.

A serious business danger is that although you might get more traffic, a direction or bias may be taken that does not really long-term fit your best business strategy, but seems like some progress. Real business is not done piecemeal with a bias that aids a big company like Google. Your professional web designer's marketing arm can show you how to actually save money when dealing with Google and Bing, while aiding formation of a strategy and procedure not costing quite so much. Specific examples are: Positioning against and in niches, scheduling, limiting locations and varying bidding in special ways. Also note important screening and qualifying of prospects in #10 below.

8) Another website promotion "advertising" scam is the buying of banners and links on several sites, which may go for hundreds of dollars per month. The deception and scam is not disclosing (ie: fraud) material important matters that you will only appear on certain web sites not very related to your business, and that you will only appear at odd times of day which they call "rotating" but in fact you may not show up but a few minutes or couple of hours per day. Avoid any banner program that is not pay per click for qualified traffic from a company who makes sure clicks are not relatives of the promoter clicking on your banner.

9) Don't fall for the SEO scam that bases part of performance on "number of impressions". "Impressions" don't mean much at all and implies the SEO firm does not know what they are doing. Likewise if the SEO expert does not keep up with changing ranking algorithms, your site could be penalized for old techniques like using "link farms" and affiliate networks. (Valid links from reputable sites remain important.)

10) Don't fall for the scam by alleged Search Engine optimization firms who promise to get you clicks on a PPC search engine and who want to help handle your SEO content and ad copy. Advertising copy is not for amateurs and some of these people can break your company. The key is conversions, not traffic, based on qualifying and screening prospects BEFORE they click. If an SEO company talks to you mostly about getting more clicks, beware! They should be talking about qualifying and screening prospects and identifying target audiences, behaviors and needs.

11) Most SEO companies have no one who has really studied or had experience in direct marketing, advertising, business strategy and internet marketing balanced with web site design and maintenance standards. Amateurs can damage your site and business by recommending content changes that destroy a proper long-term testing, campaign and upgrade program which must be dove-tailed with the business's strengths to fill market gaps. An ignorant optimization and ranking consultant can lead your company away from your proper larger strategy and methods to a simplistic, over-broad, over-narrow or incorrect positioning or image (such as toward being a "lowest price provider", which is usually not viable).

12) Proper promotion while keeping all the other critical parts of a web marketing program going is a job for professionals coordinated by the web design company's marketing arm in conjunction with the business's key marketing person or people.

Consider all the "red flags" we have mentioned to determine whether your prospective SEO expert sounds like someone focused on W3C code compliance, browser compatibility issues, maintainability of code, and the absolute top priority of refinement of the web marketing strategy using testing and campaign cycles.

IF the SEO company is focused on those things, they may be qualified and MUST BE as much a professional Web Site Design-Development company as an SEO company. Almost NONE are. If SO, however, and your web developer was NOT talking about and warning about the issues that we have in this article and others on Web-Success.net, then you probably did hire the wrong web-developer. You would also be admitting you hired the wrong web site designer --not someone as expert as BG Design and Buyers' Group Marketing Group.

That is, when you choose an SEO company that is NOT ALSO expert in web design, clean code and site integrity--you've made a mistake.

13) Most medium and smaller companies should look to such an experienced internet marketing and web design firm for guidance to establish a plan that can save money and mistakes overall, before even considering hiring full time personnel in those areas, to save over half the costs until the company is selling well over about $20-30 million per year.

14) Lastly avoid small fly-by-night "SEO-only companies", any SEO firms from out of the country and any company not at least 3 years old. Serious issues have arisen as to integrity of foreign communications and theft of websites and selling of information gained by access to files by such companies. Work with someone in your country who has been in business at least five years with a good reputation.

Conclusions Regarding SEO and Promotion Consultants:

All that said, it can be very useful to have a couple of better SEO consultants make critiques and proposals for improving search engine ranking and overall promotion. A better SEO/PPC firm will coordinate and work with the professional web design firm, respecting the obvious importance of the central role of the webmaster-website developer knowledgealbe in current SEO and PPC practices.

If the company does not talk about exactly how they would make changes to web pages, about "versions" and copyright protection, nor about the crucial choice of organic versus paid promotion, about business strategy and positioning, about campaigns (there is a reason Google calls them advertising campaigns), and about the reality of high competition on the search engines that matter, then beware!

The SEO firm should talk about quality of inbound links, if organic advertising, and the "core" of the internet, about authoritative content, search ranking algorithms, and relevant content. They should be very candid about the unreliability of organic ranking. And they should be candid about the difficulty of learning to do SEO correctly, and that it is only economical if done in special ways and mostly maintained in-house by the company itself after set up.

The SEO firm should emphasize a comprehensive marketing approach, and talk advertising and direct-marketing testing language, as should your marketing liaison in-house person. The SEO or promotion firm should emphasize choosing Paid versus Organic in relation to staffing, skills and budget, because either choice entails serious effort and costs, and different staffing/skills, training and budgeting. There is no free lunch in competitive business on the internet. The days of easy promotion are gone.

Talk to your web developer-designer and marketing consultant about the basics of promotion, which is good site design based on good positioning, good layout based on advertising basics, with strong page Title, Descriptions, Headlines and bold sections, and building relevant focused unique landing pages focused on an audience segment. Due to Google's strategy of making organic ranking more and more difficult, they are driving businesses to pay per click. Yes, that's a conflict of interest, but the way it is with a near-monopoly.

In sum, hiring an SEO or Promotion or Pay per Click management company is unlikely to solve problems if such SEO consultant really does not know good basic business management and marketing and advanced web-design-development requirements, especially if the website owner/manager does not either. Because internet marketing SEO, PPC and Links fields are relatively new, the standards complex, nebulous and changing---even well-intended and somewhat knowledgeable consultants often do not know enough, are not worth the costs and can make costly mistakes in marketing direction. Run any proposals by your web developer or webmaster and a business marketing expert, and discuss and consider the proposal long and hard, and compare.

Use the proposals for ideas if they are good, or pay the consultant a small fixed-fee or time-based fee for a critique, analysis and suggestions. But beware the above pitfalls, among others. But mostly, don't let them edit your site, and don't let them manage your advertising without a close rein.

There are many integrated steps to convince a buyer you are the best fit and value for their needs. These steps require good management decisions and good advice of your web-design, development and marketing expert. These decisions can not be entirely trusted to an SEO or promotion guru who probably does not even recommend improvement cycles using direct marketing techniques in classical promotion-advertising campaigns.

Read more of this website, along with the above, to avoid pitfalls and know what to look for in a SEO, promotion or PPC consultant. Good luck.


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