I’ve heard a lot of horror stories and I’ve received a lot of emails from “SEO” companies guaranteeing better traffic on Goldsboro Web Development.

(pardon me a moment while a turn away to chuckle)

Many customers come to us because they’ve been “had” by these companies and web designers that employ these services.  So, in this little blog post, I’m going to give you five pointers that you should watch out for, some keywords that should be sounding alarms and I’ll provide the sources and logic behind the reasoning so you’ll better understand why you should be alarmed.

Let’s get started!

1st Sign: How important is SEO?

You should always ask your designer this question, because the fact is, it is very important, in fact, it is just as critical as having a website that is appealing and engaging.  You have to look at this like a physical store-front.  Think about that, if you’re going to open your business, would you open it in the middle of a corn field where no one can see your building or even know it exists?  Think about the last time you used Google or any search engine.  On what result page did you “give up” looking for something in particular?  Page 1?  Page 3?  Page 4? Personally, I give up on or about page 3.  But Google will tell you most users give up on page 2, that’s just 40 results which mean if you can’t figure out how to get your website within the first 40 results, your website will be in a corn field.

So watch out for responses like this:

a) If I build it, they will come! (No, they won’t, this isn’t Hollywood, it is real life.)

b) It is only important to get your website indexed! (I bet with what you have already learned, you know this is dead-wrong.)

c) We have SEO specialists for that! Really? (Keep reading…)

2nd Sign: How do you implement SEO?

There is only one right answer here, and that is, “Organically while we build the website”.  SEO, isn’t magic, and it needs to elves or magicians to work on it.  It is something that your designers need to know how to do. So this should never require a third party after-the-fact nor should it require additional services or fees!  Organic SEO is the method of ensuring content elements are placed in the right areas that strictly alert search engines to what type of content it is.  For instance, if you’re selling fish, your goldfish listing would be in h2 tags, while the rating will be in rating tags, and the description would be in description tags.  This tells the search engines exactly what it needs to know about the content of your product.

So watch for these responses:

a) Google does all of that for us!  (Umm.  No. This is called “Adwords” and you, as their customer will pay PER CLICK and most adblockers will block that ad anyways.)

b) We contract that to a SEO Firm.  (This could be ok, but you need to make sure they can pass the other points.)

c) We have a proprietary method….  (That is code for “we use link spamming” that you need to run far, very far away from.)

3rd Sign: How important is the SEO of the Homepage?

If you don’t pay attention to anything, please, I beg of you to pay attention to this part.  The SEO of your homepage is the most important part of your website and a major flaw there can have severe repercussions for your entire website, especially a link with a 404 error or content that Google can’t read.

That brings is to another part of homepage SEO and answers you should look for.

a) We use flash/images/etc on your home page, SEO isn’t necessary. (Google can’t read flash or images)

b) Google can understand images and flash, so it will add to your SEO value. (No, they cannot, in fact google just created the technology that allows them to ‘detect’ a cat.)

c) We use a landing page with all sorts of cool stuff your customers will love!

As you might be able to tell, Google only indexes text as text and images as images.  It does not attempt to read and index image text, so words you have inside of an image is invisible to the Google algorithms.   Anyone that tells you differently, you need to be running far, far away!

However, if your designer failed the first three, I’m sure you’re likely walking away, at least I hope you would be.  But if you want some good ‘ole troll value, keep asking…

4th Sign: How will you improve my SEO?

Improving someone’s SEO takes time, a LOT of time, which is why it is always best to do it while you’re building the website.  That way elements can be added in as the site is being built without any requirement of retrofitting a pre-existing design.  But these are the answers you need to avoid:

a) Don’t worry about that, we’ll make you the first result on Google!

b) It is magic you wouldn’t understand.

c) (and the most infuriating reply I’ve gotten) It is easy for us!

5th Sign: How about social media SEO?

Social media is becoming a new marketing strategy that I predicted nearly 10 years ago as becoming mainstream, and now, here we are, it is mainstream.  But search engines aren’t the only things that require SEO.  When someone shares a post-Facebook and Twitter also use content tags to relay syndicate your website.  If it is not easily readable to Facebook or Twitter your social media engagement becomes an epic waste of time.

So keep your eye out for thse morsels:

a) Social media isn’t that important, you only need to focus on search engines.

b) Search engine SEO is the same as Social Media SEO

c) Facebook? You actually use that?

And there you have it.  The five signs that your web developer or web designer actually knows NOTHING about SEO and a great indicator that you should look elsewhere.