Clowns to the left, jokers to the right – don’t get stuck in the middle!

At least once a month, I get a call from a potential client who has received an email from an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) outfit, often from a Gmail account or other free service. They tell me all the things these outfits have promised them and I am often utterly astonished.

Why are people naive about SEO?

People still want to believe the myth of overnight success and instant wealth, and this leaves them vulnerable. On top of wishful thinking, search engine technology is often a total mystery to laymen. Most tend to think of search engines as yellow pages in the phone book where just paying enough gets you the biggest ad. Not so. Search engines do not reveal their secrets on how they rank sites. SEO’s constantly study, discuss, and perform tests to understand the algorithms which are constantly changing.

Clowns, Jokers and Charlatans..

Unfortunately, the optimization industry has more then its fair share of charlatans. Basically, the SEO industry can be divided into 3 categories:

Charlatans – nothing more, nothing less. Prepare to be ripped off.
Black Hat Optimizers – a term SEO’s themselves use for optimizers who use “illegal” techniques that can get your site blacklisted by the search engines.
White Hat optimizers – optimizers who do not participate in “illegal” spam techniques that violate search engines guidelines.

So what kind of bogus “promises” do I hear about? Glad you asked!

We can guarantee your rankings

9 times of of 10, what they are saying is that they can get you top ranking on your company name because it is unique. Chances are this will probably happen anyway so why pay someone? Besides, people on Google or Yahoo or Bing would have to know your company name, so how exactly will that drive new visitors to your site?

Guaranteeing rankings is unethical. Search engines do not reveal their secrets. And SEO’s are 3rd parties. None of them have “special” relationships or priorities with the engines. Google is so concerned about this, they have a whole dedicated to protecting website owners.

White Hat: Ethical SEO’s will not guarantee rankings. We will use all “legal” methods and all our expertise and experience, but we will never guarantee rankings.


Your site needs to be continually submitted

Oh, sigh. When will this just go away? Okay, about a million years ago this was correct. But technology has moved on, and in fact Google says you don’t even have to submit at all – they will find your site by themselves.

The reason clowns tell you this is to bill you for some kind of useless monthly submittal service.

Worse yet is that SEO’s offering recurring submittals use automated software that is in violation with most search engines guidelines. Violating guidelines can get your site blacklisted.

White Hat: For faster initial indexing, an ethical SEO will recommend an XML sitemap that can be submitted to search engines and once tested and approved, the search engines use it to find all your website pages and judge how often they should index your site.  Thereafter, besides updating the sitemap for new or removed pages, it’s a hands-off procedure.


We’ll submit your site to a gadzillion search engines

There are only a handful of search engines. They “lease out” their technology to other engines. For example AOL actually uses Google’s search engine.

White Hat: We would simply never make this erroneous statement.


Click here to confirm your listing on our directory

A lot of times, this is just spammers wanting to confirm that your email address exists. You click on the link and confirm to them that you exist and they turn around and sell your email address.

Now, there are many reputable directories – usually vertical market directories – and most of them charge for a listing. They don’t send out unsolicited spam offering listings. Anyone sending you an email with a free listing is probably up to no good. If the listing is free, why wouldn’t they just include you?

White Hat: We investigate and recommend directories that are relevant to your business.


We checked and your site is not listed with the search engines

Whether you are listed or not, this is just spam, spam, spam. Do you really think someone sending you an unsolicited email has actually used the considerable time to check if your site is in the engines? They just blast this stuff out and chances are 1-2% of the recipients will click on their link and sign up for one of the bogus services above.

PS – What’s funny and speaks for itself is that we often get these kind of emails forwarded from clients with 1st place rankings across the board asking us what is going on.

White Hat: Most ethical SEO’s are so busy, we never send out unsolicited emails offering our services! We would never want to be perceived as spammers…

When writing this article, it dawned on me that the internet is like New York City. You can find world class art, museums, entertainment, fashion, dining…whatever. But for every street-smart visitor, there’s one walking around with his wallet hanging out just begging to be mugged.

So, enjoy the city and everything it has to offer but be savvy about it!

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