It appears that even local newspapers have gotten in on the SEO-bashing. On Sunday, the Rapid City Journal published what appears to be a column entitled “Optimizers not optimal for getting site noticed.” The author, Claire Scholz, states:
For the most part, search engine optimizers are — do I dare say it out loud? — crooks. They promise the sky and all the golden-top-10-Google-rankings beneath it. They make cold calls or send cold spam (yuck) to otherwise smart business owners and, within minutes, the owner is rattling off the company’s credit card number to his or her new best friend.
I understand that there are many unscrupulous “SEOs” out there, but I wouldn’t say that “most” of them are “crooks.” The ever-skeptical Scholz offers four guidelines to avoid these bad guys, some of which are decent:
- Do a Google search by placing the so called SEO expert’s company name along side “forum” in the search box i.e. Flimflam, Inc. +forum Forums are virtual watering holes where experts gather to compare, hobnob, but mostly to gripe. If Flimflam, Inc. shows up in any of these sites, you can bet the buzz won’t be good.
- Put link:Flimflam.com (if that is the web address) in Google’s search box. This will bring up a listing of many of the sites that have links pointing from the pages to Flim’s. If the list consists of a bunch of unrelated sites, chances are Flimflam put them there him/herself. These lists would be the other clients swimming aimlessly in Flimflam’s vessel of fools.
- What you like to see in the search for link:Flimflam.com is a listing of reputable search-engine [sic] authority sites, not JoesGarage.com or VelvetTouch.com. Rather, you want to see SearchEngine Watch.com or WebMasterWorld.com or even www.asiostudio.com [her site]. Click on the links in the listing just to make sure they don’t lead to a rant page with blistering comments calling Flimflam a hornswoggler.
- You can go ahead and call the list of references the SEO company gave you. But be aware that the phone numbers or e-mail addresses may lead back to the mother office or to several of its satellite locations (we call them affiliate partners in the SEO world). These off-location businesses get a kickback if they happen to help your hard earned cash grow wings.
I can only take the advice of a person who advocates the “link:” command as an accurate gauge of anything with a grain of salt. She does offer a few very general tips (basically summed up as identify keywords and write more copy) to improve your search engine rankings yourself.
Before the readers despair of ever finding true search engine optimization services, Scholz “reassures” us:
There are some very well respected search engine optimizers out there. They make lots and lots of money. They romp around the world giving speeches at search engine optimizer get-togethers which makes them more money and garners them more respect. The upward spiral is endless, especially when it comes to online-buzz. What they don’t do is make cold calls or send cold spam (yuck again).
Apparently, if you’re not headlining SES, you’re not a reputable SEO. According to Scholz, if someone cold calls you, they couldn’t possibly be a good search marketer. And remember, even if you have references to prove that you’ve been successful in the past, your so-called references are at best highly suspect.
I’m not sure how you’re supposed to get clients if you’re not one of the famous, highly visible SEOs she mentions. Perhaps by writing a column in the local paper. At the end of her column, she mentions her website—a copyright 2004 web design and Internet marketing site. Sadly, it needs a serious overhaul from the table-based HTML design to the complete lack of meta data to a little general copy editing. And the “link:” search she suggested doesn’t show very much of anything, and especially not any “reputable search-engine [sic] authority sites.”
However, her business appears to be successful enough without those things—but that judgment is based on their references, so I suppose I can’t be sure. You never can tell about those “SEOs.”