In this series of blog posts, I’m going to be confronting some issues that a lot of digital marketing and website design studios do not want anyone to speak of and some issues that a lot won’t speak up on in a public forum. It’s got to do with two schools of thought – with two different teams and two different mindsets. I’m for the non-outsource team, and this is me speaking up.
As Co-Director at Studio Culture and as an active member of the digital marketing and social media landscape in Brisbane, I feel that I have to share this information to help out fellow business owners and give props to my industry colleagues (or, for the purpose of this article, team members who are doing the right thing for clients with the budgets they’re trusted to utilise).
In this first post, I’m going to address ‘tactics’ that some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) companies may have used to increase their clients’ search rankings. These methods are not only dodgy but more to the point they are completely out-dated and can actually harm search rankings for the short and long term.
Just some of these techniques can include:
· Mass link building on one or two page landing sites
· Meta tag-cramming
· Cloaking and site masking
· Having robots syndicating loads and loads of duplicate illegible content
It’s a well known fact in the digital community that a lot of Australian companies still outsource their clients’ SEO work to overseas countries such as India, Pakistan and places where the aforementioned techniques and short term methods of SEO are often utilised and invested in because of their “affordable” prices (I say “affordable” because the price tag may be cheap now, but in the long run, the costs associated with repairing a website that has been built with unethical SEO practices can be much greater and more time consuming than getting it right in the first place).
As a responsible service provider, I can’t sit idly and watch this happen. I blame the middlemen looking to shortchange the client. These companies are happy to see the majority of their clients’ money go in their back pockets and are happy to make excuses when rankings tank, conversions spiral and KPIs can’t be met or even measured.
Some things to look for, if you think your website has become victim to unsafe SEO techniques:
· Terrible copy that does not read properly (that could actually deter potential customers from your website for good)
· Dodgy links when searching for your company on search engines
· Keyword stuffing or overuse of your company’s name
· Strange sounding posts that are not written well and contain repeated links to your website on forums, blog posts or PR websites
· A sudden plummet in search rankings (that could be Google “punishing” your website because of unethical SEO practices)
· Not being able to find your business on Google anymore (THE WORST OUTCOME)
If you’re reading these points and you are worried about your brand’s SEO health – there is a solution, and it’s as simple as this: stay with a local company that takes pride in the talents of its local staff.
The benefits our clients have found with sticking to a local SEO company are:
· Strong knowledge of the local area and market (this is important when doing targeted SEO campaigns).
· Strong communication skills: when finding niche SEO opportunities, such as writing blog posts, communicating with other trusted website operators or liaising with journalists to open up P.R and Link-building opportunities, it is important that your SEO provider can communicate with external parties in an appropriate manner.
· Copywriting skills: it’s important to have someone who can write content well and in a way that is reflective of your business tone, whilst also making sure that the content is SEO optimised.
· Being able to talk to the person doing the work on the phone, face-to-face or via email is crucial. They will be able to report on your campaign and explaining things in an easy to understand way so you don’t feel left in the dark.
· Reporting and results analysis – numbers don’t lie. An amateur company will not be able to provide physical, let alone accurate and detailed reporting on conversions, traffic sources or search rankings.
· Up-to-date knowledge and experience: a true SEO aficionado is so up to date on the world of search.
· Accountability and trust: you can’t put a price on trust and you can’t make someone who is not reachable or responsible accountable for your valuable digital assets and confidential information.
Remember, you get what you pay for. If you aren’t satisfied with your current SEO provider, make sure to have a professional audit their efforts.
Joe Fox is Studio Culture’s Business and Development Director.