I’ve had an epiphany: Most people want to hire really crappy SEO ‘professionals’.
It’s the only possible reason for some of the asinine hiring decisions made by otherwise intelligent people. So, in the tradition of bloggers giving audiences what they want, here’s my ten steps to hire an SEO firm that will bury you in the rankings and cost you money:
- Look for lousy writers: Search engine optimization involves a lot of words and stuff. So whatever you do, don’t hire a consultant or firm who can actually string together a sentence. You want people who write things like “Your going to love our service!”. (If you can’t find the error in that sentence, congrats! You’re halfway there.)
- Look for barefoot cobblers: Find SEO companies with web sites that drive away the search engines. For example, make sure they link to their home page at ‘www.mysite.com/index.htm’. And for God’s sake, if they use heading tags for headings, don’t hire them! That kind of thing might help you move up! [by the way, these examples are taken from an actual SEO firm’s web site – I’m happy to refer them if you want to disappear from the rankings]
- Make sure they don’t have Pagerank. Google Pagerank doesn’t mean much, but if that little bar is gray, then that SEO really sucks. Since you want bad rankings, hire them right away. They’ll deliver.
- Trust the developers: A surefire way to truly wreck your SEO campaign! When your IT person or developer snorts and says “I read a couple books, I know SEO”, jump for joy. Your search is complete. Have them fill your site with duplicate content, impossible linking schemes and nested redirects. You can have an utterly invisible site without even lifting a finger.
- Trust the designers: Almost as good as the previous tip. When your designer says “Oh, that 100% Flash opening page won’t be a problem. Google can crawl Flash now.”, trust them. Hear that ‘poof’ sound? That was air rushing into the place your site previously occupied. Congrats.
- Don’t trust the experts: Guys like Danny Sullivan, Matt Cutts and little companies like Google have been trying to give you advice on hiring a good SEO for years. If you listen, you’ll end up hiring one. So ignore everything they say.
- Hire someone who guarantees a top position: If they promise you a number one ranking on Google, they can deliver, right? Maybe, if the phrase is something like ‘hassenplarfer’ or ‘hufflebwump’. If the SEO you’re talking to guarantees rankings, you’ve struck gold. They’re not only incompetent, they’re liars, too.
- Hire folks who throw around arbitrary numbers: Brilliant quotes like “You need 305 links to get a top ranking on Google” are a sure sign you’ve found a real loser. If your internet marketing plan includes being SEO roadkill, you’re in luck.
- Hire a friend’s cousin’s daughter’s sister’s half brother who’s really “good with computers”: Perfect. Not only will the search engines poop all over you, but you’ll get to have lots of tense moments in your personal life, too. And you’ll be stuck with this git for the next 10 years. Nicely done!
- Don’t pay more than $500 a month. If someone tells you they’ll charge $5,000, gasp and hang up the phone. Find some nice, ethical folks who say they can do the work for $149.
Phew. Chances are that somewhere in your search for an SEO, you encountered good, quality practitioners who could’ve moved you up in the rankings with smart, ethical advice. You had a few close brushes with success. But if you followed my 10 tips then you’ve made it, and defeat is at hand. I salute you.