As the owner/webmaster/developer/marketer of several highly-trafficked sites, I receive more than my fair share of spam that somehow creeps through the filters we have in place. Although the majority of the spam I receive is some variant of the usual scam about transferring large sums of money from a political refugee’s off-shore bank account to mine (some of these are pretty funny and creative), recently there’s been a huge increase in emails from marketing companies offering their services.
While I normally don’t read the spam I get, I had some free time this evening at my hotel while attending the WebmasterWorld Pubcon Expo in Las Vegas. One email in particular stood out from the rest and really got me thinking about the extremely negative effects of hiring the wrong company to market your website.
Here’s how the email goes (actual names have been changed so I don’t get sued like Aaron Wall of SEOBook):
Subject: Google Jagger Update
How did your rankings fare in the latest update? It’s looking like Google is heading more and more towards content. The days of tricks and hacks are over. Your website should be concentrating on 3 things to ensure long term Search Engine Rankings.
1. Site structure: This is optimization, your site, the way it is structured should be easy for search engines to read, determine what you are and find keywords.
2. Links: Continue to build links, try to avoid one-way, non-reciprocal back links if possible.
3. Content: Google is favoring sites that are large in content, and the content has to be very relevant to your industry. They are starting to lean towards ontology. If your site is about parachutes, then Google will also look for words like, plane, jump, sky, jump safety, jump companies, hangliding, para-sailing, skydiving, etc.
We specialize in these 3 strategies, give us a call if you would like to talk about the strategy of your website.
Direct: (XXX) XXX-XXXX
I have several problems with this email, the first and most important of which is the fact that it’s spam. If Joe really knew how to market a website as he claims, he wouldn’t have to send out spam to find new clients. Clients would find his site themselves via search engines, banner ads, text links, PPC, or other ethical forms of getting traffic.
Another big issue with this email is the inaccurate information it contains. First of all, Google has been focused on great content for a long time now, and so have the other search engines. This isn’t anything new as Joe suggests. After viewing hundreds of forum posts from those panicking about their rankings slipping from the latest Google update, I wrote a short post about great content which ended up being more of a rant. There are so may poser SEOs out there that just don’t get it, and it can be pretty frustrating sometimes trying to find useful information in forums these days with all the noise.
Secondly, his “tip” about linking is grossly inaccurate. Joe Blow says to avoid one-way, non-reciprocal links? This is not true at all. A good mixture of reciprocal linking with authorities in your industry as well as relevant one-way inbound links appears more “natural” to the search engines. Your site should also link out to resource sites or other quality sites that your users may find useful, even if they don’t link back to you in return. It’s not about tricking the search engines. It’s also not about linking to any site that will link back to you. Your “link neighborhood” tells search engines a lot about your site and if you can’t tell what your site is about by simply reading the title of the pages that link to you, you’re doing something wrong.
After reading his email I checked out Joe Blow’s website, and it was just as I suspected. No backlinks, no content, a terrible internal linking structure, and keyword-stuffing throughout. Looks like Joe doesn’t practice what he preaches. How could anyone hire an internet marketing company that can’t even get their own site ranked well? Shouldn’t your own website be your best case study to prove your talents and earn the trust of potential clients?
If you receive spam or a telephone solicitation offering internet marketing services, delete it or hang up immediately. Legitimate internet marketing companies don’t have to resort to email spam or telemarketing to get business, they rely on the web. I cringe when I think about the companies that will respond to Joe’s offer and end up spending money without seeing results. It makes it much harder for knowledgable marketers to earn a client’s trust after they have been burned, and it gives the SEO industry as a whole a bad reputation that it doesn’t deserve.
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