One of our directors has received a proposal from a SEO company to get our website generating leads for a variety of search engine key-phrases which are of commercial value to us. This all works via link building. They say that this is more effective & cheaper to outsource rather than try to do in house. Costs vary wildly from £100 per month to £6K for this link building and could be delivered over a 4-6 month period. Is this a good deal?
Well. The world’s largest search engine is Google. This is what Google says about link building:
Your site’s ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you. The quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity. However, some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results. Examples of link schemes can include:
- Links intended to manipulate PageRank
- Links to web spammers or bad neighborhoods on the web
- Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you.”)
- Buying or selling links that pass PageRank
The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community. The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it. Before making any single decision, you should ask yourself the question: Is this going to be beneficial for my page’s visitors?
It is not only the number of links you have pointing to your site that matters, but also the quality and relevance of those links. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the buzzing blogger community can be an excellent place to generate interest
You should never have to link to an SEO.
Avoid SEOs that talk about the power of “free-for-all” links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search engines. These are typically useless exercises that don’t affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines — at least, not in a way you would likely consider to be positive.
While you consider whether to go with an SEO, you may want to do some research on the industry. Google is one way to do that, of course. You might also seek out a few of the cautionary tales that have appeared in the press, including this article on one particularly aggressive SEO: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2002002970_nwbizbriefs12.html. While Google doesn’t comment on specific companies, we’ve encountered firms calling themselves SEOs who follow practices that are clearly beyond the pale of accepted business behavior.
Be sure to understand where the money goes.
While Google never sells better ranking in our search results, several other search engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web search results. Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. A few SEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they “control” other search engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn’t work with Google because our advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our search results, but be sure to ask any SEO you’re considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.
The best one we’ve heard is ‘I’ve got a friend that works at Google and he/she knows how to improve our ranking.’ Who is this friend? How long have they known them? Do they exist 😉
To get your website to be more popular:
- Add and continue to add good content
- Make the site interactive with space for feedback
- Add video or audio
- Use blogs where you can include links back to your site, but please make relevant comments! We get comments every day of the week such as ‘great blog, love the articles, why not visit my site… – and we reject all of these. They don’t add anything to the body of knowledge out there. If we had comments that ready what we had written and made useful additions, we always publish these, even if they don’t agree with what we’ve said!
Google webmaster tools – great place to start and this site really does explode myths!
Google’s own comments on links etc http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356
Interesting news story about a company that promised to get its customers ranked in the top 10 to 20 results on the search engines and ended up having to pay the money back http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2002002970_nwbizbriefs12.html
http://www.quickwinmarketing.com/ for info on how to grow your business, more generic than web focused, but guidelines (I’ve written this book) on how to create objectives etc to grow, revitalise or launch a new business / product / service.