Beware that SEO company on the phone

I assume many of you are members of LinkedIn, the professional networking site (if we know each other, please feel free to link to me). There’s a good section on this called “Answers” where you can get advice from other members, and I’d thoroughly recommend visiting this occasionally and helping out where you can, because it establishes you as an authority in the field. A recent question was What do you look for in choosing an SEO company? and that’s something I’m taking quite an interest in at the moment.

We’ve been speaking to quite a few people over the past few weeks about our Insider Programme, which is designed to teach you (with our support) how to master every aspect of online marketing. Of course, “SEO” (or “search engine optimisation”) is an important part of this. We’ve been surprised, however, at just how many marketing managers in industry are telling us that they’ve had pitches from SEO consulting companies recently. It would appear that this is a rapidly-growing business, and hard-sell tactics are starting to become commonplace. To me, any business which employs telesales people who won’t take no for an answer should be avoided at all costs, and this is exactly what we’re starting to see from SEO companies.

Before you assume that I’ve got it in for them, I’m not going to advise you against using SEO consultants. If you need some specialist knowledge in a hurry, they’re your best hope of “sorting out” your website. In a previous job, we needed just such advice, and I went to one of the best-known SEO consultants in the world, Eric Enge, who identified (and helped us solve) our problem, something we’d never have done on our own. The best help might not come cheap, but that doesn’t mean it’s not cost-effective.

I’m also not going to suggest that just because some SEO companies seem to be going for the hard sell that all of them are rubbish, because that’s not the case. What I will say, however, is that there are a limited number of good ones (especially in the UK), and there are businesses whose websites turn over far more than the average industrial company’s website, so it’s no surprise to know that’s where most good SEO consultants gravitate. It’s also why their cost will probably (and justifiably) be out of reach of most of us. Finding someone good who’s prepared to work for a more, er, industrial budget, is going to be that much more difficult.

Beware the SEO company which insists on tying you up to a long contract. Surely these things should stand up on their own merits each month? If your service is good enough, you don’t need your clients to make a commitment – they simply won’t want to leave. And walk away from any SEO consultants which just bang on vaguely about “getting you to number one in Google”. Number one for what, precisely? Worst of all – and I only recently came across this for the first time – are companies which claim they will “get you to number one in Google and keep you there as long as you remain a customer”. If that’s true, then their methods are extremely suspect, and at worst, could be disastrous for you.

All this has made me even more determined to get as many industrial companies as possible signed up to our Insider Programme. When it comes to mastering online marketing, I believe the 80/20 rule applies: you can do 80% of it yourself, if only someone will show you how, and you only need the experts to polish off the last 20%, should you ever feel the need to go that far. The Insider Programme is designed to show you how. It’s aimed at marketing managers in industry, and won’t baffle you with science (unlike the reports I’ve seen provided by many SEO consultants). I’m on a mission here. Sure, we’re making a business out of it, but that doesn’t stop it from being a great investment for you.

Now I’ll promise not to do any more commercials for a while, if you promise to go and have a look at the subjects we cover on the Insider Programme. Come on the journey with us and you won’t even think about getting in the consultants.

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