Still not ranking

| Common Problems, Client, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

I checked on Google this morning, and we’re still not #1!

One of the more dreaded things to hear when you’re in the SEO game. Mostly because a good percentage of the time, it can feel like your business, your livelihood, is at the whims of nerf-basketball playing nerds in Mountainview, California (home of the almighty Google).

There are always reasons though, and in this particular case I looked at the most obvious reason.

I only started on the project last week mate.  Give it 3 months, at least, before you can start expecting some results.

He was placated with that, temporarily.  I say “temporarily” because it was no more than 4 weeks later that I got the exact same phone call.  No email, no replies to my repeated requests to get the content changes I’d made approved.  Nope, just another phone call where he’s pissed off and expecting me to cowtow.

I keep checking on Google and we’re still not coming up!”  Fuming.

Despite explaining the intricacies of how Google goes out, crawls his website, indexes the content and then decides what searches it should show up for, he still had yet to approve the changes I’d made to his content.  I’d even put it as simple as this, “Without that content, you won’t rank.

Then he decided he was smart enough to do this too.  Since I’d explained in the simplest terms how I’d made changes to his page titles, anchor text and page copy, and how that would affect how Google “sees” his site, he ignored my changes and made them himself on his homepage.  He’d seen it done on a competitor’s site, you see, so he did that too.  He put 37 keywords in his home page <title> tag, and he was proud of himself.

2 weeks after that, another phone call.  Yep, fuming.

I explained that he’d paid me to do a job, I had done it under the caveat that I would be given the room to do certain things, changing the content on his website being one of them.  I said, “Take your content off, NOW.  Put mine up, NOW.  Wait 6 more weeks.  THEN check Google every day.  Until then, leave me alone.

He didn’t like hearing that, but he did it.  And he left me alone.  And he ranked well after 3 months, I checked, even though we weren’t friends anymore. -JE

Number One in Google

| Common Problems, Client, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

“I don’t know a lot about the whole SEO thing, but I do know that a #1 spot on the Google will bring me heaps of business.”

I was told that by a prospective client once.  The entire reason he is referred to as “prospective” is because he never actually became a client.  He wanted to be #1 on Google and didn’t care how.  I told him that it’s not that simple.  I listed reasons.

  • Any cowboy can get you #1 for an irrelevant or underused phrase.
  • NOBODY can guarantee any ranking of any sort unless their name is “Google”.
  • What you want is targeted traffic.  You want to show up on the first page in searches that will bring visitors to your website and spend their money with you.
  • You also want to be able to track your online successes/failures in regards to this.

He didn’t like hearing any of that.  He wanted to hear what he’d been told that he wanted to hear by the industry itself, “Sit back, relax, give us your money and we’ll get you top rankings and lots of traffic.”

The previous statement isn’t what works best, but it’s a self-perpetuating fallacy that helps people make more money off of others while doing less work.  This is one of the hallmarks of the SEO industry, because so few truly understand it and so many desperately need it.  Which, if you think about the Course of Human History, is when the shysters capitalise on the situation the most.

The only defence against the continuing misinformation and rampant mystery of the SEO/SEM world is education.  The prospective clients out there are every bit as responsible for obtaining this education as the vendors whose services they seek.

Of course not everyone is perceptive to such education, as was the case with this particular prospective client, but that doesn’t mean we should ever stop trying. -JE

Clients get what they deserve

| Common Problems, Client, Supplier

If you get three quotes and give the job to whoever is cheapest, you probably deserve a cheap job.

Understand what development process the company will take you through and what you’ll get at the end of it. What browsers will the site work in? Will it work well on mobile devices and tablets? Is it responsive or crafted or neither? What will you be charged for hosting and for changes?

If you appoint the company who cold-call you without seeking out another two companies/freelancers to compare them to, you could get taken to the cleaners.

Some of the least reputable companies have the best sales forces. Spend enough time with each candidate to get a sense of how they do business.

If you don’t ask where the work is being done and by whom, you deserve to have the work done overseas without good quality control.

That’s not to say good work can’t be done overseas, but you should satisfy yourself the quality control will be up to speed. Work done overseas is usually cheaper, so that should be reflected in their quote.

If you don’t see previous examples of work the company/freelancer has done and you don’t personally talk to those referrals about how the development worked out, you deserve a web site built in outdated technology, delivered late.

If you know nothing about web development and you accept everything the web dev tells you without checking it, you deserve to pay three times as much as necessary for an over-engineered site that you can’t understand how to work.

If you’re not knowledgeable, consider employing someone to project manage on your behalf or at least find an advisor who has experience in the area.

If you use photos or graphics on your web site without getting permission from the owner you deserve the embarrassment of being outed for copyright violation.

If you pay for an SEO service without understanding what will be done on your behalf and how Google feels about that, you deserve to get thrown out of the index and lose 98% of your web traffic for months.

To sum up, clients need to do their research, ask intelligent, well-informed questions and stay close to the project. Or they risk a sub-standard, over-priced project.