Website optimization can be rather time consuming – you never know if this strategy will work for you and you will have to experiment again and again. What is more, the result can be measured in a time and you might be unaware which of your experiments really did magic and what to do next.

Someone will tell you SEO is the game with constantly changing rules, I would say it’s a game without rules (or if they exist, only Big Daddy knows them for sure) – what works for your neighbors, can have no effect for you. So it might be a wise idea to let real professionals do that for you.

Well, it’s quite probable that in your effort to find a good SEO company, you’ll chance on a self-styled “seo expert” whose knowledge is limited to multiple directory submission. Would you like to tell a real expert from the amateur before you entrust him with your website (and money)? Well, that’s not that hard. In most cases you should just spend a few minutes on his website to be able to tell if it’s worth contacting him for further discussion.

Nonsense and worthless internet marketing phrases:

**Cheap and Unique**, FAST WORK! BEST SERVICE, SEO perspective, Guaranteed Ranking in Google, Free Add URL Service, ONLY $xx! WEB SITE SUCCESS, plenty of backlinks bonus, Cheap SEO Services, SEO benefits, LIFETIME packages, SEO Submission, guaranteed SEO Service in X months, Make Your Domain a PRx – only at $xx, most important thing of SEO, TOP 10 in Google – guaranteed, SEO Success, etc

Well, if you can’t find the phrases above on their home page, give these people a chance – continue browsing their website:

Contact an SEO company if it… Avoid an SEO company if it…
Has a solid optimized website and good backlinks. Has low quality backlinks and no onpage optimization. (Marketing Golden rule: if these people can’t optimize and promote their own website, they won’t be able to do that for you.)
Is flexible: it tracks your SEO campaign progress and modifies their initial search engine optimization techniques accordingly. Has worked out one scheme and repeatedly uses it.
Uses multiple SEO tools to analyze all aspects of your website promotional progress. Claims it has a unique “SEO software” (cough) ensuring your website top rankings.
Offers a unique approach to each website. Uses uniform SEO techniques from site to site.
Runs its SEO campaign on a step-by-step basis. Promises to deliver fast results.
Uses a multifaceted approach to search engine marketing (analyzes, optimizes, tracks, etc). Does only link building (most popular).
Stays up-to-date with the rapidly changing Internet marketing rules and constantly modifies its SEO techniques. Uses old techniques (e.g. directory submission) which have no effect at all.
Cannot guarantee anything (if that’s not Google, of course) – those who are able to deliver the stars do not promise the moon. “Guarantees” that your website will be first in SERP. Uses worthless SEO slogans throughout their website (e.g. SEO benefits, best SEO strategies, SEO gurus, SEO perspectives, etc)
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I am the owner of this blog as well as Brand and Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas and Founder of MyBlogGuest, MyBlogU and

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  1. Ann,

    I m not sure if I got this right. You say above:
    “Uses old techniques (e.g. directory submission) which have no effect at all.”

    Do you mean that submitting a site to web directories has no effect?

  2. Smart directory submission does still work, I would say. If directory submission is the only thing an SEO company can do, I doubt it that this would be effective.

  3. I’d suggest a good indicator of a good SEO company/individual is when they are prepared to spend the time to understand your business, it’s goals and your customers.

  4. Have you ever considered publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites?
    I have a blog centered on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have you share
    some stories/information. I know my visitors would value your work.

    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.

  5. Nice post Ann

    It is really worth-full one for those who research before choosing or hiring a seo company. You have made this post for identifying the black hat seo fellow. Hope it will give an effective promotional side to SEO friends who do practice content marketing and effective white hat SEO services. I recently lost a query came from an Australian company for not accepting their demand for first possession in Google. There are some companies looking for Guaranteed services and asking for 1st position in Google. For few of them money is not even a problem. They are ready to big amount to compete their competitors (quickly) Actually they are making the Black hat SEO in this world.

  6. breetcalvin says:

    I’d suggest a good indicator of a good SEO company/individual

  7. Thank your for sharing the checklist of what to look for and what to stay away from when checking out an SEO company. This helped me prepare my website and presentation a lot better. Thanks again!

  8. Still a pretty relevant list even today! I think that you have to make sure any SEO that you are looking at touching your website has to be up to date on all the algorithm changes and can explain the updates and what they do. For example, if they cannot explain what overoptimization is, then you don’t want them anywhere near your site! Great post!

  9. Thank you for the helpful checklist Ann.

  10. Guys if you are thinking of hiring an SEO first look at how they get there business, if they do not have several Google top page listings for their own company. Why do you think they will be able to do this for yours?
    Find out what search keyword you want to rank for, find out the search volume on a monthly basis for this keyword and then ask you seo consultant to demonstrate where they have ranked a term that gets this level of volume in the top three of Google. If they cant answer move on.
    A good SEO gets paid £75+ an hour the best charge thousands per month, If you pay £99 or $99 a month you expect to get less than an hours work and this will probably be delivered offshore by someone who does not not what they are doing. Do you really think you are going to get an SEO consultant to add £££ to your bottom line for £99 a month?

  11. Who really decides SEO ranking is the search engines. The real deal SEO companies with proof of their websites and their clients with a stable ranking over time is a good indicator of a quality choice. These are the ones who are learning and relearning the algorithm changes to stay on top. Search engines stop reacting to SEO techniques right away. SEO marketers are in the cloud. I suggest keeping it natural. Keep it quality. And you will rank.

  12. Thanks Ann for an informative post. I agree that an SEO company should be constantly changing with the new algorithm updates to stay one step ahead as well as not guaranteeing miraculous quick ranking results and rather setting the expectations right from the start of the campaign.

  13. Hi Ann, quite a good list but difficult to read in that table with those colours. One thing to add would have been proof of rankings.

  14. Thank you for the list, Ann. I like the contrast of Contact versus Avoid to help understand the decision-making process. Good work.

  15. Great post Ann. I hear this one all the time; “guaranteed rankings in Google”. I have learned to stay well clear of companies that offer this.

  16. Kerry Springer says:

    Thanks for the post Ann, these things will now be on my list to find an SEO Optimization service.

  17. Nice checklist ann, this helps sort out who knows what they are doing and who doesn’t. This article will save me time and money in the future.

  18. Excellent SEO techniques and tactics addressed here. Companies that guarantee page 1 rankings are simply hungry for cash. Don’t bite off more than you can chew when it comes to marketing for real businesses. -Agreed

  19. Great article Ann, I really loved this…”IF THESE PEOPLE CAN’T OPTIMIZE AND PROMOTE THEIR OWN WEBSITE, THEY WON’T BE ABLE TO DO THAT FOR YOU.” I couldn’t agree more, if they’re really a good SEO company their site should have emaculate on-page and they should be ranking somewhere. SEO is a tough game to get into for both parties but this article really helps people differentiate who can walk the walk and who just talks the talk!

  20. I am agree with you that we can’t say a person or company specialized who knows only about some seo techniques like directory submission, blog commenting, social bookmarking etc. seo is like a is very difficult to reach on its bottom. There are lots of onpage and offpage seo techniques. So before hiring a seo specialist we should confirm that how much knowlede of seo techniques a person have whom we want to hire.

  21. Search engine optimization is now taking longer due to algorithm updates and it so true that companies need to ensure that they hire an extremely knowledgeable Agency for their online needs. Search Engines are always making it more difficult to rank in the top pages by their consistent updates. Thanks for your article.

  22. I like the polarity list you’ve provided. I have to say I did giggle when I read the part of being a self-styled “seo expert” whose knowledge is limited to multiple directory submission. I see and hear this all the time, it’s so irritating. Anyway, thanks for posting.

  23. Great list of how to weed out the “self-styled” SEO experts Ann. Couldn’t agree more, very relevant to this day still. Far too often, we come across the nonsense marketing phrases like “fast results” etc for businesses who are deciding which company to go with. Awesome post to refer them too. Thanks.

  24. Good post, so true what works well for one site doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for another. Another point is not going too cheap on your SEO, you get what you pay for in life. If an SEO is cheap and making tall promises I would be wary.

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