8 Sure Signs Your SEO Company Sucks

Last year I wrote an article titled “10 Signs You’re Buying SEO Snake Oil“.  Since I’m into SEO, I thought I’d do a follow up article piggy backing on that article on 8 Sure Signs Your Current SEO Company Sucks.

I get told all the time about how small business owners have been taken advantage of by unethical SEO companies, and frankly it makes me sad that there’s people out there that would risk the livelihood of a hardworking business owner just to make a buck.  These same SEO Snake Oil salesmen also make ethical, hardworking SEO companies job that much harder, as they have eroded any trust these business owners may have had in the prospect of real and quality SEO

1) Your SEO Company Talks About How Many Hundreds or Thousands of Links They’re Building For Youseo humor meme funny seo jokes

The question of whether “link building” is dead in SEO is a hotly debated topic. Many SEO companies still actively pursue link building as a must obtain goal for great rankings. I myself do not believe that link building in the old sense of the term is a viable SEO tactic with changes in Google’s updates and algorithm changes. Instead I like to use the term “link earning”.

A quality SEO company can help a business earn links by putting good quality content out on the web, promoting it, and being creative.

2) They Talk About Directory Submissions, Forum Comments, and Article Submissions

If anyone starts talking about directory submissions, forum comments, or article submissions end the conversation. These types of SEO tactics will surely land you in hot water with the search engines. There was once a point in time, many many years ago that these tactics worked to some degree, but even back then, they were considered borderline unethical.

Anyone that talks about these types of tactics is just going to slap your url into an automated software program to spam the internet.

3) They Promise to Submit Your Website to Hundreds of Websites & Search Engines

Hundreds of websites? Hundreds of search engines? What does this have to do with your business being ranked on the major search engines? What good is it to have your website submitted to websites or search engines no one uses? Quality SEO companies will focus on the major players, for them quality over quantity is the key factor.

4) They Won’t or Can’t Tell You What They’re Doing For Your Businessalbert einstein SEO if you dont understand it you cant explain it

SEO companies or consultants that can’t (or won’t) tell you what exactly they’re doing to get you search engine rankings are hiding one of two things, either they don’t understand SEO well, or they’re doing it unethically. Don’t be an easy target for an SEO snake oil sales person. Ask questions, and make them answer the questions.

SEO is not a hard concept to explain, and neither are the exercises and tactics that good SEO companies use.

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

Albert Einstein

5) They Tell You They Have Contacts or a Special Relationship With the Search Engines

It still baffles me that some SEO and web advertising people use this line. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing would never risk their reputation by offering preferential treatment to a select few. The organic section at these search engines is nothing more than a learning algorithmic equation.

Good SEO companies help their clients by helping the search engines understand what’s important about their business.

6) They Guarantee First Page Rankings

This is another one that’s hard to believe still exists, and for that matter business owners get suckered into buying. First page rankings, especially those for competitive keywords come by hard work, many times over months – even years, and still that can’t be guaranteed.

Don’t fall for the Guaranteed First Page Rank scheme. More often then not, it’s a scam where an unethical SEO will point a bunch on links to your site, where you’ll see a temporary increase in rankings, until the search engines see the links and you get a manually or algorithmic penalty, or even worse, blacklisted.

7) They Solicit You via Email or Automated DialerSEO Company Salesman

If you have a website, or a phone, you’ve probably been hit up already many times by companies like this. They promise everything from inexpensive SEO, to Google Maps listings, to inclusion in thousands of directories. The emails will often point out that they were doing some type of research for one of their clients, and came across your website, and out of the goodness of their heart they did an extensive SEO analysis for you. Don’t believe it, it’s just an automated software program that’s sending out hundreds or thousands of emails like this everyday.

Most good SEO companies do not solicit their prospects, if they’re good, they get business by word-of-mouth, and guess what, good SEO on their own website.

8) They Promise to do a lot of Work for a Upfront Flat Fee

This often has one of two unfortunate endings. First ending is that you’ll never see or hear from these people again, as they just pocket the money and run. Second ending is they outsource your SEO efforts to their “Corporate” office, many times which you can’t speak to (because it’s overseas). In the second case, the SEO is most defiantly not going to be quality, and most likely will hurt your website over the long term.

How to Choose a Quality SEO Company

  • References, references, references.  A SEO companies past performance is a darn good indicator of their future potential. If an SEO company can’t provide you with a few verifiable customers they do business with (and you can see on the web) should you give them your money?
  • Ask for referrals from business owners you know. Good SEO companies get most of their business because the companies that do business with them want them to succeed, and stay around. Maybe you own a plumbing company, ever think to ask the auto repair shop that works on your fleet vehicles who they use for their internet advertising? Check your local Chamber of Commerce, do they have anyone they can recommend? What about your vendors? They certainly need to advertise as well.
  • Check the SEO company out on the web. Search the company name on Google with terms like “reviews” or “complaints” and read what others have to say about them. Check out their blog, what do they write about? Do their values match yours as a small business owner?



Poor Man’s Guide: Website and Internet Advertising on a Budget (Part 3 of 3)

Promoting and Updating Your Small Business Website

I get it as a small business owner, you’re busy.  There’s a million things to worry about, and if you’re like me, most of the things that suck up your time have nothing to do with why you started your business in the first place.  Small business owners are pulled in several directions everyday, and rarely do they get what they planned done during the normal work day.  I, myself am writing this on a Friday evening between dinner and kids showers because I myself didn’t get this done during my normal workday.

Remember you started your business because you are passionate – and – YOU ARE DIFFERENT

I’ve been helping small business owners advertise themselves for almost 15 years, and with only a few exceptions of the thousands of business owners I’ve met, all of them have something that makes them different from who they perceive as their competitors.  Typically when I would ask these business owners what made them different, I’d get the same canned answers: we provide the best service, we provide quality work, we provide the best guarantee…and on and on from there.  It wasn’t until we were able to really dig in deep with these clients did they actually really think about what made them different, and sometimes it takes someone from the outside to point it out.

I’ll give you an example.  I met with a plumbing contractor that had been in business for many, many years.  It’s probably a third generation business, one of the oldest plumbing companies in their market.  I asked the owner what made their business different from other plumbing companies their size in the area, and got the same old canned answers, the same I’ve heard many times before: they’re the best at what they do, they guarantee their work, they’ve been in business for years, etc.

It was only after much questioning about their services and what they offer was I really able to help the business owner understand what made them different, why someone should choose them over their competition, and for this business owner, the realization of what they offer compared to almost any other plumbing company has most certainly set them apart when it comes to their digital marketing, and here’s what really makes them different:

  • They only employ licensed Journeyman Plumbers
  • All of their plumbers are Union
  • They provide flat rate pricing on all service plumbing work
  • They’re heavily involved in the community, and give back to it

To this business owner these simple facts seemed just normal day-to-day business, but when it comes to marketing your business, facts like this are gold mines.  Prior to City Ranked Media taking over this clients website, they had been marketing themselves as just the plumbing company that had been around for a long time.  They were in essence just another plumbing company, unless for some reason you as a consumer came to their website and really cared that they had been in business long before your parents were born.

Marketing the difference in your businessopen for seo on a budget

Every business owner understands what makes their business different, I think that sometimes they just need to be reminded.  For first generation businesses I think this is a much easier exercise because you as the business owner know what made you decide you could do  better job.  For second, third and more generation owners, this sometimes might be a bit tougher.  In either case understanding and marketing what you do best can, and will make all the difference in the world.

For businesses – differentiation is everything

With the above business, understanding the above about their business changed everything.  Marketing and SEO’ing their website for terms surrounding Journeymen Plumbers, the Union, and other related terms opened them up to General Contractors outside the state looking for these exact qualifications.  It also allowed them to command a premium for their services understanding that every plumber on staff was a trained professional.  Rankings, phone calls, and as a result, business has increased, big.

So do you know and really understand what makes your business different, and better?

Understanding your passion, and turning it into new business

Once you understand what makes your business different, it’s time to turn that knowledge into new business.  You’re an expert in your business, and how your business is done.  You’ve refined your trade or skill, many times over years, so you have knowledge on what people want, the questions they have, and most importantly the answers to those questions.

People want to know your knowledge. You get asked the same questions by your customers, so take this opportunity to answer those questions in a informative and helpful way through your website. Don’t try and sell your business at this stage, think about yourself being a resource, and answer these questions.  Use phrases that people will search, for example if you’re a Plumber, and you do home plumbing repipes, answer some of your most asked questions regarding this service, i.e.: What’s the difference between PEX piping and Copper piping, and which is best? Make these articles super informative, and make them helpful for the average Joe homeowner.

Don’t sell yourself at this point. Remember you’re targeting people searching for information, not someone searching for a business to help them with their problem. You’re targeting people with questions on the best or correct way to solve their problem(s). Once the visitor understands that, they will then start searching for someone to fill that need. Getting them to your website is 50% of the battle, showing them you’re the best expert for their problem is a short gap to jump from there.

If you can bridge this gap from turning people searching for answers, into people exposed to how your business can help them, you will win some of them over.  Now I know what some of you are saying, because I’ve had many of our clients tell me the same thing: why would I tell someone how to do something themselves, or why would I share my knowledge without these people paying for it? The answer is simple, with the advancements in information sharing via the internet, social media, etc., the answers to their questions are already out there, so wouldn’t you want these people to come to your website for these answers? Sure, will some people come to your website for answers and leave? Yes, but some will also engage you for your professional advice and services, these are the people that you’re seeking.

Share your information on social media

If you can do the above, and do it often, you will be successful. It won’t happen overnight, it won’t happen in a month, but if you can religiously add new content, at least twice a month, it’s almost guaranteed (as of the writing of this article) that you’ll be in a much better position than 80% of your competitors.

The exercise I’ve described above is nothing more than blogging. People are searching for the answers you have, it’s up to you to turn those people into customers.



Poor Man’s Guide: Website and internet advertising on a budget (Part 2 of 3)

Website SEO on a Budget

Self guide to getting your business website on the search engines

Awhile back I wrote the first part of this series,  Building a website and doing your own SEO on a budget, sorry it’s been so long for the second article in this series.  In this article I’m going to assume that you’ve already launched your website and are now ready to get it out on the net and make it start working for your business.  If you’re having trouble with setting up the structure of your website, I encourage you to read my three part series, Website Ranking Factors for Small Business.  It was written 2 years ago, but the practices are still essentially the same.Continue reading

Is Your SEO Company a Copycat?

Why you shouldn’t work with an SEO company that copies your competitions’ strategies.

As a business owner nothing can more frustrating than seeing one of your competitors copying the same website and SEO strategies that you’ve been using.  It happens all the time, even within the SEO agency world, right here in Vancouver Washington.  Here at City Ranked Media we’ve been testing different SEO strategies for years, only to have some of our strategies copied, which was the inspiration behind this article.

So if you think your SEO company is copying from your competition, below are the reasons you may want to rethink your strategy (or your SEO’s strategy) for long term business success.Continue reading

What Your SEO Company Might Be Doing To Hurt Your Rankings

seo company penalty website rankings vancouver wa portland or

Is your SEO company hurting your websites rankings?

I get it, as a business owner it’s really easy to let things like SEO and your website slide. Your phone is ringing, people are mentioning that they found you on the web, so life is good right? But if you have an SEO company, web advertising company, or anyone else that does any kind of promotion of your website with the goal of attaining better rankings online for you, it might be time to start paying attention.Continue reading

5 things you need to know before hiring someone to build you a website in WordPress

WordPress website development

Here at City Ranked Media we primarily work in WordPress and all of our new client websites are built using WordPress, so you might say we’re big fans of the website platform.  However in the years we’ve been using WordPress, we’ve seen some pretty big messes with some websites that people have brought us to fix.  Pretty big messes that took a lot of time and money to fix, so that being said we thought that we’d write an article on questions to ask, and things to know before deciding to hire someone to build you a website in WordPress.
Continue reading

Cheap website SEO, does it really exist? Learn the facts here


Just about any business small or large will at some point be faced with the decision on how to properly SEO their website.  It’s this need from small business owners, combined with the real complexities of how to get properly ranked on the web that has sprung up a whole industry of poor quality SEO agencies across the U.S. and the world.  After doing some quick searches on the web, I came across an interesting story of a Pest Control business in Arizona that took the time to share his experiences with some these low cost SEO companies, and the results they provided.Continue reading

Google Pigeon, what happened to your Google listing and rankings?

Did you loose rankings with the Google Pigeon update?

Late Thursday, Google quietly released its newest update to its local ranking algorithm, quickly dubbed Google Pigeon by the folks at Search Engine Land.  Google’s newest update aims to achieve more useful and accurate search results according to a recent article posted by there.  When asked by Search Engine Land’s contributing author Barry Schwartz, Google said the update targetsContinue reading