Too many UK SEO Companies prey on people’s lack of knowledge or understanding of how the internet works in order to charge exorbitant prices. Many of the things charged for are either things you could do yourself, or which bring no real value to your company’s search results.
It’s the old saw:
“Dazzle them with brilliance, or baffle ’em with bullshit.”
In my 17 years’ experience as a web programmer, I have too often seen SEO companies baffling people with bullshit, extorting them to pay up because of some insinuated threat of Google Decimation should they not do precisely and exactly what the SEO company suggests.
The SEO company which tried to rip off my client
Back when I was a web programmer and not a full-time writer, I offered SEO services for a while.
I didn’t do this by choice, but clients kept asking me for them. I would be working on their website and, when I was finished, the inevitable question was, “So, how do I get found on Google now?”
My answer was always the same, and yet it left them somewhat displeased: “You need good and frequent high-quality content which visitors consider useful, and Google will give you all the love in the world.”
Usually my clients would look at me with a sceptical glare, wondering if I was taking the piss.
They weren’t happy with my advice. They would ask me, “Yeah, yeah, but what about links and keyword density? What about the description of the page? What about internal linking and keyword text. What about real-time results and social media and, and, and…”
I would tell them, “Google stopped using page descriptions to rank sites about ten years ago.”
They would give me that sceptical glare again. “No, no, Paulo, really–the description… I received an article in my inbox yesterday from ‘Mr. Awesome and Incredible Search Engine Expert UK’ and he said you need a description and that Google is really lying about how its internal algorithm works…”
Okay, so I bowed to the pressure. I mostly implemented Google’s very own recommendations and then told my clients to create content. Lots of good, useful content.
They rarely did create that content. Who has the time? (That’s why hiring a professional writer who knows Keyword Research makes sense.)
In the absence of content, there was very little I could offer them.
So I eventually dropped offering SEO services to clients, and said they could go ahead and hire anyone they found to take care of their SEO.
One of my biggest clients took the advice and hired an SEO company. They came in and started fiddling with his site, using “targeted articles” and changing the structure of the site (which I had implemented according to Google’s recommendations).
They were terribly haughty about it. “No, this is the way to do it!” We had to follow every single one of their recommendations to the letter.
They provided graphs and charts displaying their prowess and how unbelievably well they were doing. They had an in-house reporting tool (which they must’ve invested plenty of money in) which supposedly demonstrated that their implementations were achieving the desired results.
They were outright liars.
My client (unbeknownst to the SEO company) asked me to take an independent look at his search statistics.
His visits had crashed! He was receiving 30 percent less visitors since the “SEO” company took over!
He fired them and got me to revert their changes.
Google’s own SEO guidelines will get you 80 percent of the way there
Nobody knows the Google algorithm except the privileged few who designed it at Google itself.
For the rest of us? We can only guess.
There is certainly no dearth of SEO tools for how to master that arcane algorithm. But are they of any real use?
Did you know that Google itself has a Search Engine Optimisation Guide? Yes, and it costs nothing.
It also has a forum where you can post questions to people who work in SEO and can give you free advice. I used to post in that forum many, many years ago, and made it fairly high up the levels.
Although Google’s algorithm is a mystery, there is little mystery to what makes a good website.
Likely you don’t need an SEO company, you just need a good web guy (or not)
Google’s very own advice on this is clear:
“Don’t feel obligated to purchase a search engine optimisation service.” (source)
You will notice that many of Google’s recommendations have to do with technical aspects of your website–how the titles are structured, how the links are put together, how the page itself is built, how to redirect old content to new content.
Here’s my suggestion to you: Either hire a guy who can fix up these minor things for you (at a reasonable price!), or start using a WordPress site.
Sometimes a combination of both is needed to get you all the way there because some of the old content might need to be redirected to the new.
What I tend to do for clients is offer many of these website tweaks at no additional cost to the articles they have hired me to write. Implementing Google’s recommended changes is usually so simple that it isn’t even worth charging for it.
Besides, when I write SEO content for companies it is within my interest for that company to be found. I market myself as a guy who writes Search Engine Optimised content, and if I don’t deliver the goods I’ll lose repeat business from that client. No one can guarantee Search Engine results, but I certainly don’t want to fetter my articles’ potential by publishing them on a website which is severely flawed!
So I’ll usually go ahead and make SEO tweaks on a client’s website while writing his website’s content.
WordPress is great for SEO
Blogging sites like WordPress take care of all the structural elements for you so that you don’t have to.
By simply typing in your profile details on WordPress and writing articles using its built-in editor, you are already following many of Google’s recommendations for a good site. Those recommendations are built into the WordPress system itself.
Many companies offer one-click options to create a WordPress site for you. All you need to do is follow the on-screen instructions.
I use GoDaddy which makes putting together a WordPress site a piece of cake.
SEO companies who tell you “Content is NOT king” are lying
Maybe they’re only lying to themselves, but they’re still lying.
The first things dishonest SEO companies try and convince you of are:
- That SEO is completely and entirely out of your own power.
- That there is some other vital ingredient required to drive traffic to your site which is both obscure and difficult to understand.
Why is that? Because they are trying to sell you something!
Heck, let’s just take it from the horse’s mouth.
“Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here.”
Yes, there are other factors which influence your site’s position on Google, and the best SEO companies in the UK are aware of these minutiae. But these things are not the strategy to implement to get a website found.
They are gravy.
The main thing a site needs to be found is content, content, content. Ideally, the keywords for that content would be well-researched. The content should be relevant to your company. (I am reminded of the early days of the internet when people used to inject the keyword “Britney Spears” into their website code in order to gain traffic. Ah, those were the Wild West Days…)
The content should be well-written and easily understood. There is indeed a science to writing content of this calibre. It is called “Penmanship.” Or, perhaps, “SEO Penmanship.”
Creating good content is mostly a writing skill.
The best UK SEO companies are going to be expensive
I have dealt with two kinds of SEO companies in my many years as a web developer:
- Those who adopt any and every new SEO gimmick and then shove that gimmick off on their clients, even if the gimmick is outdated, using baffling jargon to make it sound impressive.
- And those who understand that Content is King, but who also believe (sincerely) in assisting to get that content found using other means.
Creating good content can be a little time-consuming, but not if the person doing it is an efficient pro. But trying to manipulate the discovery of that content using social media, external links from websites and other means could take the vast majority of the SEO company’s time.
Analysing statistics, graphs, charts, comparing performance this month to last month–these things take time. Additionally, they also have to spend time presenting the information to you in a way that you will feel satisfied with what they’re doing.
These things take time, plenty of time, and that’s often what you’re paying for.
What makes a site get found on Google is tons and tons and tons of amazing content. So why spend all that extra time on getting it discovered when brilliant content will usually be discovered organically eventually anyway?
If you focus on this, and this alone–great content–and run your Twitter and Facebook accounts like a human being instead of a robot (engaging with people, providing interesting information for them which they can use in their lives) you’ll get there.
Keyword research is vital
There is, however, one caveat: It’s the difference between a shotgun method, and a direct bullet.
The best content is highly targeted to the keywords you want to be found for. This does take research. It does take a good, well-rounded knowledge of what people are searching for. It does take time. Perhaps you do not have that time, and that’s where an experienced writer comes in.
But it all comes down to content. You need good content for a site, the rest is just gravy.
And I have yet to meet an SEO company that provides only Content Creation as a service. No, that service is provided by Freelance Writers.
There are indeed good UK SEO companies around
And then there are those gems who sincerely wish to do a good job with your site.
I’ve met one. It was based in Ireland. I never found occasion to use them–I was too afraid of what they might charge!
I confess that I stopped looking for others because my mouth was sour with the taste of tricksters who tried to baffle instead of simply delivering an honest (and simple) service.
It is these “Black-hat” companies which give the others a bad name. Google says it themselves:
“While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye[.]”
I stopped offering SEO to clients because I was aware that the best SEO was phenomenal content which gets found and gets shared–content produced on a regular basis.
I was a web programmer back then, not a full-time freelance writer. I had neither the time nor the inclination to write articles for others.
My love of writing in general ultimately won out and led me to this new profession. But I still don’t recommend the full gamut of SEO services to UK companies.
Maybe I’m biased because I am able to implement all of Google’s recommendations myself, given my web programming background. I understand how frustrating it must be for people who are not familiar with this technology.
But if your site is not found at all on Google, there is no risk with simply starting a new one using WordPress as a platform. Just sign up for a hosting package with GoDaddy and click away until your WordPress site is up and ready. It’s very easy.
Then focus on content–good, readable, excellent content that will be considered useful by people who discover it.
Some keyword research might be necessary.
Content, content, content, excellent content–that’s the first thing your UK business site needs. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is either misled themselves, or trying to hoodwink you to fatten up their own pockets.