Once again, today we see the ‘classic advice’ that the #1 thing to look for in an SEO agency is one who ranks, this time from Dave Davies of Beanstalk Inc. It’s been done before, but let’s just see what’s on the “search engine optimization” SERP today.
Hm… Wikipedia entry, Google Webmaster Help Center, and four sites offering search engine submission services. What’s left? Bruce Clay, SEO Chat, High Rankings and a site I’ve never heard of, but I think they do more than just search engine submission. I think.
Yeah, that ought to cover the SEO industry.
On the plus side, Dave does indicate that the title and header tags are a good place to find keywords that the site is targeting. (Other people offering this advice often say ‘make sure your SEO ranks’ without telling you how to figure out what phrases he’s targeting.)
He also makes an exception for newer websites, citing as an example . . . why, it’s us!
The only exception to this rule is if they are running a new company or website and have a proven track record from the past which can be used as their reference. In this case any consideration would require research into the individual, company, and circumstances. A good example would be Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim. Prior to starting Marketing Pilgrim he had been involved with two other SEO firms. When MarketingPilgrim.com started it didn’t rank well. He was still a great SEO consultant with a solid track record of success. [emphasis added]
What? Research the background of an SEO/SEO company you wanted to hire? Dude, I Googled “SEO,” and they came up. Research done. (By the way: thanks, I’m sure Andy appreciates your kind words.)
Okay, okay, </rant>. The rest of Dave’s advice is pretty solid: look at what the SEOs promise, include & guarantee (or how they back up their work), and avoid companies that utilize black hat tactics, don’t do link building, automatically generate content, tell you to build several sites or offer to submit your site to search engines.
The moral of the story? Maybe more SEOs should be targeting the term “search engine optimization.”
Andy’s Update: Dave has published another article clarifying his original comments.