Before You Hire an SEO Firm, Read This

Oh, That I Could Just Fly Away and Forget All This!

Before Signing a Contract Be Sure You Understand the Service

Toward the beginning of this year, I was approached by a Search Engine Optimization company (which I will not yet name) about contracting for their services. My site is over 600 pages, and I had not yet finished switching it over from FrontPage 2002 to Web Expressions 4. The redesign was taking longer than I thought it would, and I was getting discouraged. I was also losing traffic during the overhaul, but wasn't sure I wanted a lot more traffic while the site was in transition. I was following an E-Book step by step on how to make the change, and one step was to make sure I had at least two copies of my site before I started operating on it. I was supposed to have a working copy on my computer on which to make changes and a backup just in case. When I was finished with each file, I was to upload the changes to the live site, file by file, as I made the necessary changes. On top of this was the regular updating I needed to do of prices and products.

It was during this transition that the SEO salesman called me. I had once hired a firm years ago that had helped me, and it did improve my traffic, but I'm aware that the search engines are always changing their methods and I know I wasn't caught up, so I was susceptible to the sales pitch. I figured SEO was one big job I might be able to hire out, but I questioned the timing. I expressed my concern to the salesperson -- that the site was in transition and I was still working on it. I did not want my work impeded and I was afraid the site was not ready for optimization yet. He said it wouldn't be a problem. My gut instinct told me that he was wrong, and I should have listened to that. Unfortunately I went ahead and agreed to have six of the pages optimized. It was a very bad decision. 

This hub has been up for a few weeks now, and I do want to encourage you to read all the comments that have accumulated, since many SEO people have given a lot of instruction on SEO in their long comments, making the comments just as valuable as the body of the Hub. I want to thank all of you who have made these contributions to the value of this page.

Did I Get Taken for an SEO Ride?

Once the salesmen signed me up and took my money, I was contacted by a woman who identified herself as my customer care specialist. I explained I wasn't ready for her to start yet. I still needed to make some changes to the six pages before she started her work, since she wanted my login information. I had fears that she could break my site if she added changes through FTP while I was still using Front Page Server Extensions (FPSE). Obsolete as they are, I still had some components that only work with the FPSE and I wanted to get more important changes done first before working on those components.

I had signed up in January, and my Customer Care Specialist (we'll call her CC from now on) called me every week asking when I would get the URLs and keywords I wanted to optimize for to her. I really didn't want to give her access at all, but she assured me she had Expression Web and would only make changes through the programs FPSE. Finally, in March, I gave her access and the information she needed and she said she would let me know when she had actually made changes and what they were.

Yesterday I got the list of changes, along with the instruction that I was only to make changes on the server -- not on my computer. This was something that was not explained to me would be a result when I signed up. I was very upset. Not only was it impossible for me to start operating that way, but now I can't upload changes I made to the structure of the site's organization that were planned for when I finished the individual pages, without losing either days of my own work or all the work she has done. The person who signed me up and assured me there would be no problem was wrong. CC explained that he could not possibly have known how irregular my situation was when he made that assurance, even though I had tried to explain. He did not mention how they worked. The last firm I hired did not work that way.

I called CC today to discuss the situation. I know I'm her customer from hell, something I don't enjoy being. I suggested maybe I could paste in her changes to each page before making my changes or that I could download the file from the server as she left it so that I could work on what would be essentially the same file she had changed and then upload it again when I had finished. She insisted I should work on the server and then save a copy on my computer. I'm always afraid if I work on the server and the connection goes out or times out, I won't be able to save the changes. It happened a few times when I used to work on the server. She said all I'd have to do is log in again and I wouldn't have lost anything, but I'm not sure I believe that. It seems to me that I hired her to do a job for me, and now she's telling me how I have to do my job. I understand she's afraid I'll louse up something she's done if I don't do it her way and then if might reflect on her work. So we are butting heads at this point. Had I known about this condition, I never would have hired this firm to do the work. But that's now water under the bridge. Now it's my job to figure out how to solve the problem.

For those of you who know SEO, I'm also wondering about something else she did that I really don't approve of. She added some links to the very bottom of these pages, under the navigation I have in place, that aren't honest. Example. The link text says "math books." the link goes to "educational gifts." I asked her why she did that instead of making the "math books" link go to a page of math books. She said she has to use the key words for the page as the anchor text, but she wants google to see other pages I did not have her optimize. It seems she's hoping these links are so far down that no customer would see and use them. But I've read time and time again that web sites should be designed for people -- not for search engines. These links would seem to violate that principle.She says if I tell her where I want the links to go she will change them. Seems it would be easier to just change them myself, but she really didn't like that idea. I will grant she probably knows more about SEO than I do, and she did do some things I didn't do right,like putting the Google analytics code on all 600 pages. I was confused on how to do that. But I know more about where I want my traffic to go on my site and which pages are most important than she does. She is optimizing six pages. I'm still working on optimizing about 500 more.  I think she'd rather this site was static and I'd just stop doing things to it.

So here I am. I believe I made a big mistake in signing up for this when I did, but I also believe that the salesperson misled me without really knowing what he was talking about. I was wrong in not getting him to be more specific, but I wasn't really sure which questions to ask. Now I would ask how his customer service specialist's services would affect how I would need to work. I would explain that I did not want to work on my site live on the server and ask if they had a problem with that. Then if CC told me I needed to do make changes only live on the server, I'd have have something to fall back on when stating my objections to CC.

How Should I Fill Out the Survey?

CC sent me a link to a survey I need to fill out before she starts doing whatever it is she is supposed to do on a monthly basis. The survey asks whether she has optimized the site, how satisfied I am with the service, and if it's been explained to me what I have to do so that I don't overwrite the changes.

I have mixed feelings about how to respond to this survey. It's designed so that most of what I have to say reflects on CC and the job she did. I think she probably did what they expected her to do and what she does for most customers who aren't in my particular situation. I just am not happy because this is not what I expected to happen. I would hate to have my feedback impact CC's job. It was the salesman who really misled me, although CC didn't tell me before she started that she didn't want me to work off-site and upload changes. Probably her other customers not in my situation weren't concerned about that. I would have stopped the whole thing right there had it come up.

On the other hand, I'm not happy with the job that was done and how it has presented me with a new problem to solve instead being the solution I had hoped for. I want to be fair, but I don't think I should pretend I'm satisfied when I'm not.

I would appreciate your feedback in the comments, both on how to handle the survey and on any solutions you might see on solving the impasse on how I should make changes, if you are familiar with the programs I'm using. I'm hoping I can make CC see that my copying what she had done on a page to my computer before working on it and then uploading the file again when I'm done is essentially the same thing as making the changes live and then saving it to my computer. Or am I wrong about this? I'm no programmer and I hate coding. That's why I'm using these programs in the first place. I'm probably not as technically competent as CC, and that's why I don't want to make my changes on the server and possibly mess up a live site. She thinks I'm just making extra work for myself. What do you think? Am I being unreasonable? Or have I been taken for a ride?

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Comments 68 comments

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Wow, so much to think about in this area. I have a person in my professional life whom I trust without question. I will turn everything over to him when the time comes. I am a writer and know practically nothing about the complex world of the internet. I doubt this personal opinion helps you much, but know my empathies are with you!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

I would think it would be good if you could talk to someone who is well versed in SEO which isn't me. However, I have learned in my life if I harbor that doubt about a decision I can feel it in my gut then I would follow those instincts as it always works better for me that way. As for the survey, I think you should be honest even if you have to write in a area that wasn't set up for remarks. You were misled by the salesman and I would be sure the company knew that, plus it seems that CC is a little pushy concerning your desires. After all, you paid her and it is your computer and business. I hope you can work out this situation where it becomes a win - win.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Hyphenbird, that's why I hired this outfit -- so they could do what they are supposed to be better at and I would be free to do what I'm good at. It's hard to be an expert at everything.I know a little about SEO, but I have a very large site -- over 600 pages. I'm trying to optimize most my self, but wanted an expert to do something about the six most important pages.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Pamela, LOL, if I'd known someone here that was well-versed in SEO I would have hired her. My husband is upset I didn't talk to him before hiring this outfit, but he knows nothing about writing or SEO and is not an internet user unless I find a page for him to look at first. I don't think he would have known all the right questions to ask either.

I'm letting myself think and pray this weekend before filling out he survey so I won't do anything rash or unfair. I have consulted a user group for Web Expressions and they seem to think I've been taken and should change my password immediately. I'm still not sure the deception was deliberate or just the result of being unable to understand the implications of what I was trying to explain about the web site being in transition.


Norma Budden profile image

Norma Budden 5 years ago from Nunavut, Canada

Barb, I would recommend a book for you to read which is really down to earth; it's called SEO Made Simple and I sell it through one of my HubPages about SEO.

I have mixed feelings about your situation. Yes, you should have followed your gut instinct because you could have changed your mind at a later date. However, that's water under the bridge, as you've stated.

I have never been approached by anyone in terms of taking care of SEO matters for me; I would have declined anyway because I prefer to learn the ins and outs of it myself.

As for working on servers, that is essentially where I do all of my online work. I have to do it on Squidoo, HubPages, Helium and so on. Granted, I can write articles and save the text to my computer files but, when it comes to adding photos and setting up the presentation, it is all done on the server and saved as I complete each process.

You may consider copying the code CC granted you and experimenting with placing it elsewhere. If it doesn't work, you can always put it back where she had it. I do wonder about HAVING to do your work on a server, though; it seems as though someone wants to have access to the content every step of the way - but that may be my imagination.

As for your survey, answer it honestly. There should be a space for comments; if not and the rating is bad, someone MIGHT get back to you which would enable you to explain your situation and your feelings about it.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Norma, I also like to write my hubs and lenses on the server, since, as you say, we are using modules and capsules as part of the process. It's also true if you mess up one hub or one lens, you're usually only going to lose one module or capsule, since you save each one before going to the next one. It's an inconvenience, but not a tragedy , if you lose one and have to redo it.

A 600-page site is a bit different. I have been working one file at a time to clean up code and have not yet saved the site as a whole, meaning I have not yet republished the entire site to change all changes site-wide,including the changes in file structure. That was going to come toward the end, after which I was going to apply a template to change the very looks of the site. By working on my computer rather than the server, I have a chance to play with how these changes will look and work out the bugs before they go live. There is no way I want to chance breaking my site just to keep someone who is, I believe, supposed to be working for me, happy. I realize she's afraid I might overwrite her work, and that might affect her evaluation if I do something that might change the site's ranking. I think I'm competent enough to save her file to my computer before I work on it and then upload the file again. She does not want to trust me to do that.


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 5 years ago from American Southwest

I put together several websites in the early 2000s, but have not kept up with all the details since. I think the companies that do SEO ought to realize there are all levels of Internet expertise out there, sometimes not where you'd expect. I think they should treat your data the way a bank treats your money. It should be available to you to do whatever you want with, any time, unless (as with an investment firm) you specifically authorize them to handle it as they see fit within guidelines you agree to.

If that is not the attitude they have had, I think they need to know about it, because otherwise they will end up wondering why nobody trusts them with their data.


Norma Budden profile image

Norma Budden 5 years ago from Nunavut, Canada

Barb, thanks for explaining more of the ins and outs involved with working with web pages on your computer. It is out of my league, for sure, since I have no experience with it.

I'm sure you're competent enough to do as you say and, ultimately, that may be your best recourse. Then, if you change your password, she can't access your site any longer.

I don't know the amount you paid for this service but it might be worth your while to try getting some of your money back, since you are not content with the service provided. A legitimate company would want further business and would hesitate to squabble; however, a scam would have you fighting tooth and nail, or would ignore you altogether.


SEO Ibiza profile image

SEO Ibiza 5 years ago

hey, I run a pro SEO company.

I would say if they went ahead and did the work without you being ready with the actual site you wanted optimized, then it's their problem.

however if you've already paid them, and now have to overwrite the SEO work with your new site, then unfortunately it's your problem too.

with regards to the footer links, difficult to say without looking at them, but if you want to fire me across the URL happy to have a quick look for you?

otherwise hope you get it sorted out ok.

regards from sunny Ibiza


DJArifrocks profile image

DJArifrocks 5 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

So what's your suggestion? Should I hire an SEO firm or do it myself?


Norma Budden profile image

Norma Budden 5 years ago from Nunavut, Canada

DJA, it depends upon your comfort zone. Personally, I'm not comfortable giving anyone my passwords and private information and would rather invest the time to do it myself.

However, for those who may be even more pressed for time and have looming deadlines, it would be wise to ask many questions upfront and to never have someone provide services for a site which isn't ready to go live. At least, that's my take on the situation. It might also be good to go a few checks on SEO companies to be sure they are everything they claim to be.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

DJ, If possible, and if your web site is small, learn to do it yourself and follow Norma's suggestions. I will probably buy the book. Meanwhile, people on my Web Expression Web (software) user group are giving me lots of links and suggestions for dealing with the problem in the context of my software. Their advice was overwhelmingly in favor changing my password, which I did last night, and trying to keep any more monthly charges from going through. My credit card issuing bank says I have to take it up with the company.

Meanwhile, I did last night what I should have done in the beginning -- googled the firm. I was an idiot not to do my homework. My only excuse was that I was overwhelmed with both health and business issues, as well as trying to overhaul a website that had been designed in 1996 with obsolete software. The firm appears to have a bad reputation and it appears it will not be easy to do a chargeback because of a phone verification of the order.

Meanwhile, I'm not looking forward to the talk with CC that lies ahead. She is not going to like being locked out.But neither am I going to like having to redo a lot of what I've done.


Norma Budden profile image

Norma Budden 5 years ago from Nunavut, Canada

I feel for you, Barb. I cannot begin to imagine how you must feel. Perhaps you should state openly the name of the company to prevent other people being taken in. At any rate, it's something you can bring to CC's attention.


SEO Ibiza profile image

SEO Ibiza 5 years ago

"Meanwhile, I'm not looking forward to the talk with CC that lies ahead. She is not going to like being locked out."

if they have had the money and are now being absolved of the responsibility for its performance moving forwards I very much doubt she will care one iota.

.."next.."

thats how it works with firms that cold-call.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Norma, when I get more of this resolved so that I'm sure they cannot harm me, I will. So far, I can't tell that CC herself has none anything terribly unethical, just inept. I would say that this company's standard operating procedure appears to be cold-calling with a cheap offer for preliminary reports. Then they pressure you to sign up for an optimization package. Then you get assigned your customer care specialist (your own version of CC). If you are considering signing up, be smarter than I was -- check the BBB website. This company has a C- rating and is not a member. I may file another complaint.


Norma Budden profile image

Norma Budden 5 years ago from Nunavut, Canada

Well, Barb, I can assure you that I will not consider signing up with any service such as this. I can understand your wanting to be sure no further harm can be done before revealing their identity.


SEO Ibiza profile image

SEO Ibiza 5 years ago

So Am I talking to myself here or what? :)

FYI we usually charge 100 Euros an hour consulting, now I can accept that you may not be interested in a free 2nd opinion or advice, but to just go on conversing around me without even acknowledging or saying "Hi" ..?

..really, some people.


Norma Budden profile image

Norma Budden 5 years ago from Nunavut, Canada

Sorry, SEO, I didn't think you were addressing me, personally, and didn't see anything to personally respond to in your statements. If I needed a second opinion, you would have been asked for it but, since I'm not the creator of this hub, I was merely responding to questions or direct statements made to me. :)


SEO Ibiza profile image

SEO Ibiza 5 years ago

hey Norma, yea i'm only teasing really anyway. i appreciate that "SEO" doesn't leave you feeling much like you know me anyway

jus' checking I'm not invisible or anything ;)


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Sunny, I apologize for letting your posts slip by me. I'll send you the URL of the index with some questions. I would appreciate your comments. I had a doctor appointment and some chores, and just got back to the computer. I;ll contact you through your profile. Thanks.


webstudio2ucom profile image

webstudio2ucom 5 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

Maybe we can help you?

WebStudio2U promotes different kinds of sites: from News Web Portals to Corporate Sites. Our team has time and again proved our professional knowledge and experience in the field of promotion into the TOP of search results by high-frequency queries.

http://webstudio2u.com/contacts.html


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

webstudio, right now I'm totally burned out on hiring anyone else. Before I do another thing I have to repair the damage this firm did. The only good thing I got out of the optimization was that CC put the google analytic s script on all 600 pages, so I thought maybe I got something out of the deal. I had to close a credit card account to keep them from charging me anymore -- like another $400 dollars. I changed the password for my server. I tried to reason with the accounting dept to break the 6-month contract because I was not happy with the product. They said there is a $300 penalty for breaking the contract. Since they had a voice recording of the contract authorizing them to take the money, they said they had a right to charge the penalty. I told them if I mail a customer a book he has ordered and charged it and he's unhappy, I either have to refund the money if he returns the book or he can do a chargeback. I stated I was not happy with the results, and I'm not fighting to get the initial payment back for the optimization itself, only the continuing payments for work that had brought no results for the first two months. I mentioned if they charge the penalty for breaking a useless contract for work I'm not happy with, I would be seeking out the BBB. They said anyone could complain there, even if they'd never done business with a company and they could do the same thing to my company. In the end, they finally agreed to waive the penalty and not charge my card anymore. They confirmed this with an email. I thought I had gotten at least something back, and at least the google code was on all the pages. A few minutes later I got an email from google that CC had closed my analytics account -- my own account, which I had never authorized her to enter or given her a password. I don't know how she pulled it off. My code was already on the index page when she did the rest of the pages. She did not need to get it from google. In effect, she destroyed the only real value I got from the deal,since I had to open a new analytics account with a different number. i"m glad I had changed my server password. I was going to forget the BBB, but now I believe they destroyed the work I did pay for to get even with me. I may go to the BBB now and maybe even David Horowitz. We'll see what happens when I cool off.


Norma Budden profile image

Norma Budden 5 years ago from Nunavut, Canada

Wow, Barb. This situation just keeps escalating, doesn't it? I'm sure I'll learn of your decision later.


webstudio2ucom profile image

webstudio2ucom 5 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

ok. but you must know we can help you


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Norma, I need to pray about all this and see where my time should best be spent -- fighting or repairing the site. It appears none of my other google accounts have been touched -- yet.

webstudio2, I'll keep you in mind if it appears I can't handle things, but I think I've learned enough now to take it from here.


Arne 5 years ago

Wow - that's a real nightmare of a story. I've often been tempted to try one of these SEO offers, but after reading this, I wouldn't sream of it.

In any case, I have found lately that Google searching is turning up so much extraneous junk which has nothing to do with the search terms, that I am seriously beginning to wonder if there is any benefit to be had from trying to tailor a website according to any 'guru's' recommendations.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Arne,

The most important thing, according to those I've talked to since this happened, is to have good and relevant sites linking to yours. I have over 200 of these backlinks, and some are total surprised to me. I've also been told that meta keywords are not all that useful and I've seen the proof in a #1 ranking SEO site with no meta keyword tags. Supposedly, what's important is to have your header tags appropriately tagged, a good title that matches the words on your site you hope to rank well on, and no outgoing links to spam or link farm sites, or others with a bad reputation. Never use a service until you've googled them and checked BBB for complaints. Hindsight is great. I still can't understand why I didn't do these things myself. Usually I'm not so careless.


wholesaletoys profile image

wholesaletoys 5 years ago from El Monte, California

Hi WannaB:

Ido SEO for a living. I am a Canadian residing in the Philippines. I do SEO each and every day for about 12 hours a day. In those hours I always dedicate between 1-2 hours on research. Here are few free tips for killing Google in the SERPs.

1. Forget about relevant sites. Totally give up on that idea!

2. Find some good authority backlinks with a high PR and that are dofollow. (sharethis.com)

3. Use a blogging platform to promote your website that is a dofolloww i.e. Hubpages.

4. Deep link. Make sure you have good links to all of your pages that are all unique and not from the same domain. All of the link juice from these pages will flow to the main page.

5. Stop worrying so much about on page optimization.

6. Think real time indexing with Twitter for one example. Link lots of these sites together so that all these properties get content you post something.

7. Create a Network of Authority site linking to your main website.

8. Create bookmarking account and build on that. Usually only takes a few weeks. Start slowly bookmarking all your pages. Make sure you bookmark other sites also.

9. Create an account at Boingboing.com (PR8 Dofollow), Froogle.com (PR8 Dofollow), howstuffworks.com (PR8 Dofollow), Xanga (PR8 Dofollow) and so on.

10. Create a Youtube Video (PR9 Dofollow). Make sure you bookmark this!

11. Use a program called CCleaner all the time to clean your cache files

12. Use a service called HideMYAss to hide your proxy.

Note: When go into any of these properties make sure that you link everything to it i.e Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

Note that 1 authority link is worth at least 1,000 regular backlinks. And, you need to build a Network of Authority Sites and sites with real time indexing..Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo Answers...

I will tell you anything you need to know. The problem with this is that it is all TIME consuming.

I have Wordpress host one of my websites. I still have to watch the way I promote stuff, but for me it is worth it. I think they pretty much leave you alone if you are not too spammy. Wordpres.com is a PR9 dofollow. And it is one of the best authoritative sites on the Internet.

Last piece of advice. First meta keywords are obsolete. Worthless. There only value is to people like me who want see what keywords the competition is targeting. To safeguard your website use a 301 redirect.

Best of Luck...I have voted you up and said your Hub is awesome.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

wholesaletoys -- Wow! What a concise group of hints. As you say, it all takes time. I'm probably better off right now redoing the pages of my web site that need corrections and updates and checking each page as I go to see that it is as optimized as possible.

How long have meta keywords been irrelevant? I was reading a book today that says they are still relevant for meta directories, but I realize this book may be outdated. How do you find out which sites are considered authority sites?

Thank you for your contribution to this page.


arthinfosoft profile image

arthinfosoft 5 years ago from Ahmedabad

There are all sorts of these firms plaguing the Internet? Please don't waste you money on these website traffic scams anymore. Have you came across any? Please let me know by contacting me. I take every email very seriously and if I feel that it is a legitimate claim I will post it on my site as soon as possible.


franklyn54 profile image

franklyn54 5 years ago from Deltona Florida

Hi WannaB: The information that "wholesaletoys" gave you is spot on. Just like him I've been doing search engine optimization for over 15 years And if you follow his list of things to do you won't need much help from a search engine optimization company.

Take a big deep breath and relax a little it will all work out for the best.

Best wishes, Franklyn


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Thanks, franklyn. Your comments and those so many others have contributed have made this a great resource. Little did I know when I wrote this that so many would be so helpful. I thank all of you who have shared your knowledge.


Gurkha Engineer profile image

Gurkha Engineer 5 years ago from North Yorkshire, England

Hi WannaB:

I found your conundrum most interesting and useful. You may think that is be a strange thing to say at this point, however let me explain:

I'm brand new to this internet business (although not brand new myself at 76 years of age!!!), so I can't offer any practical advice except that being a newby has some advantages:

1. I need to find out how it basically works.

2. Where do I get this info?

3. How do I break it down into parts?

4. What problems may arise? (like yours for instance)

5. How much will it cost?

6. Can I afford this amount?

6. How much time will it take to break-even?

8. Have I the intellect to do this?

9. How do you select a good niche?

10. What comes first a web page or SEO?

11. IMPORTANT: What is the worst that can happen if it

all goes wrong? Will I survive? Of course I will!

I'm an old soldier! (22 years in the Corps of

Royal Engineers) This is not gungho, it's been my

attitude to my whole life so far and never failed

me, so I know it won't fail me now, and anyway I

won't let it!!

There are a thousand questions to resolve, the more you resolve the more questions appear. The more you do this the clearer the outlook becomes, until you begin to get a good look at the main picture.

But to get back to my statement in the first paragraph, I'd like to tell you a little story. During my army career my wife always said she wished she'd studied for something, there was no opportunities for her to do this whilst travelling the world as a military family. The Far East, Europe, Middle East, Central America etc., although the lifestyle was good! So on my Completion of Service, she took a Secretarial Course at the local College, got a job as an invoice clerk in a builders merchants, worked her way up to manager. Most unusual for a woman in these days. The company was bought out by one of the big chain conglomerates and virtually became a warehouse selling fixed stock.

She was not happy and decided to leave and start a corner shop, I suggested that she did not do that but do what she knew best, start up her own Builders Business. She said this was impossible, we didn't have the financial resources, premises etc., but I said we could give the Bank our house(first and only one) as collateral, but she was not happy with the possibility of losing our first real home. I had every faith in her and I had a reasonable job which ment we would survive (see my attitude to life above) so she went ahead. Got a virgin site, opened for business, and was successful with her top years having a turn over of £2.1 million and 15 staff. That is turnover NOT profit.

The main points of this story are, as she said, and I'll never forget this were:

Get clear of any bank debt as soon as possible, which she did, and we got our house back.

She said bankers were only salesmen dealing in money, they wanted the best deal for them not businesses, and she made sure they knew she thought like this,I never knew her to have any problems in this direction.

When you employ (and pay) Accountants, never let them get involved in the running of your business. they know nothing, in her case, about builders merchants operations, use them for their technical financial expertese ie. taxes, VAT, accounting procedures etc.

ALWAYS be absolutely honest, fair and upfront with Customers, Suppliers, your own Staff, anyone you employ to carry out services for you (showroom fitters,external transport operators etc.)

Never leave a problem unresolved, I never knew of any problems with any customer accounts, she seemed to have an uncanny knack of when to speak to a customer ref their account states, and never suffered any major customer debt.

Never lose your temper, and always be pleasant with every one you are dealing with (however irate they may be at the time), you may not be aware of any problems they are having with their business, but if your pleasant to deal with you may find out and be able to help them with special terms or financial arrangements that more often than not they were least expecting, which possibly makes them long term customers and probably more honest and open with you. And so the cycle goes on and on.

Back to your problems, I have found, what I think is a fantastic aid to SEO, and that is a FREE, 147 page ebook by Dan Richmond a Senior SEO Consultant called 'SEO in Practice'. It has convinced me that to get serious about this business you need to develop HIGH Quality SEO, and unusually this does not appear to be a 'pull' leading to any expensive 'back end products'. He appears really genuine. If you are unaware of this, do a Google on

'SEO PowerSuite'. There is the free copy as described above, download the 'Download FREE Edition' button, and see what you think. there is also two much more advanced to buy editions which I haven't got but may in the future.

Hope this helps. Remember the motto.

'He who dares wins'


whatbizopp 5 years ago from UK

as far as SEO goes she is definitely deemed to be using blackhat SEO tricks, trying to trick Google to pick up on anchor text keywords is not the way forward especially with the new Google Panda released......


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Gurkha Engineer, what a lot of useful information to absorb. You could have published this as a hub. Thanks for adding it to mine.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

whatbizopp, that's one thing that made me suspicious, because it appeared she was trying to trick google, and I was pretty sure that is a no-no. Her answer as to why she did this did not satisfy me.


Jacob_Jube profile image

Jacob_Jube 5 years ago

This one is really long long article.

I would love to see it in point by point with heading. This will help me to know early what is going to come in next para.

This one is quite important topic and I do not want to miss it and this one is quite long as well ... so would love to read it on this weekend.

Thanks for guiding us ... will again add more comments after reading it full.

Let me save this on my read it later.


Harvey75 profile image

Harvey75 5 years ago from Virginia Beach

WannaB,

Drop a google search on page rank tools. There are plenty of free sites out there. Pick two or three and use them to determine page rank. I always double up the free tools, you never know when one will be buggy.

Meta tags became irrelevant a while back. People where stuffing the field for page rank. Only the smaller engines still use them. If you are going to burn CPU time indexing a page, why burn cycles checking tags?

Also start with the top PR sites and work down, you don't really need to work on links past PR6. Keep a close eye on any 6, 5, 4, PR sites. They may shift up or down and depending on trending you may want to add or remove links.

Also avoid like the plague the shady stuff. Everyday the big search sites are getting better at spotting it. Hope this helps and the best of luck to you.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Harvey,

Thanks for adding your tips on SEO to this. You are helping to make this a really great resource for people.


jamesroy11143 profile image

jamesroy11143 5 years ago from CA, USA

Thanks for sharing this information I really needed to know :)


SEO Ibiza profile image

SEO Ibiza 5 years ago

Remember the motto.

'He who dares wins'

heh I believe this was Delboy Trotter wasn't it? :)

a bastadization of "He who dares" and "Who Dares Wins" (SAS)


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

jamesroy, I'm glad it helped you. Those who commented, adding their own helpful tips, have really done more than I have to show people how to do their own SEO.

SEO Ibiza, I must not be quite awake yet. Could you elaborate on that comment? "He who dares" what?


SEO Ibiza profile image

SEO Ibiza 5 years ago

Haha, ok, "Who Dares Wins" is the motto of the UK special forces, the SAS.

"He who dares" is from something else I think, but a UK comedy program years ago put the 2 together as

"He who dares, wins Rodney!" (Rodney was Delboy's little brother)

..was very funny 20 odd years ago if you saw it, I promise.. ,)


Gurkha Engineer profile image

Gurkha Engineer 5 years ago from North Yorkshire, England

Hi WannaB

Delboy Trotter played the lead role in Only Fools & Horses, a highly popular british comedy on TV, I believe there's no one in britain who does not know Delboy Trotter. He was a typical spiv, wideboy, chancer, conman and he thought an entrepreneur complete with filofax.

He used the expression 'He who dares wins' as SEO Ibiza rightly states it was a basterdization of the SAS (Special Air Services) moto.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

SEO Ibiza and Gurkha Engineer: No wonder I was unfamiliar with the sources. I confess to being movie and TV illiterate. I rarely even see an American movie. I guess what I was really wondering about was the connection between the quote and this Hub with all the advice on SEO. Are you saying that he who dares to do his own SEO will win?


Gurkha Engineer profile image

Gurkha Engineer 5 years ago from North Yorkshire, England

Hi WannaB

According to Delboy yes, but he never won!


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

So, then, it's a toss-up whether one will win by doing one's own SEO?


Gurkha Engineer profile image

Gurkha Engineer 5 years ago from North Yorkshire, England

I believe definitely NOT. If SEO is studied and practiced in depth, that I think, way above all other factors, is the key to ultimate success as things stand currently.


Gary Shorthouse profile image

Gary Shorthouse 5 years ago from Reading, UK

This has all been very useful reading - thank you WannaB Writer and commenters.

Over the last few days I have been talking to an SEO company regarding my holiday rental website. It is doing well with Google Adwords, but nowhere on organic search.

They almost convinced me that they could do a great job and illustrated their prowess by showing that they had over 6,000 back-links to their site and were number 1 in Google for a few important keywords.

I was just about to PayPal across my money when I decided to check our their site Google page rank. I was shocked to find that their home page had a rank of 1 and all other pages a rank of 0 (zero).

How is this possible with so many (6,000+) back links? My suspicions are seriously aroused and currently I am holding back from hiring them.


Business Info profile image

Business Info 5 years ago from The Interwebz

Gary, what keywords do they rank for? Pagerank on its own means nada anymore, but can be indicative of other things if you know what youre looking for.

RE SEO being the key to success, you have to define what you're trying to succeed at.

for instance if someone comes to us and says "we want to rank for such and such keyword" before taking their business I make them talk me through their business plan and how and why ranking for that keyword is going to RETURN THEIR INVESTMENT.

if the ROI isn't there, SEO means nothing and will not help. often people think that just because they are on the 1st page somewhere, that's it, they are successful.

..well not if being there doesn't mean anything or convert.

success needs FIRSTLY a good business plan / product / site that will convert, important though it is, SEO is the LAST part of this chain.


Laura Ginn profile image

Laura Ginn 5 years ago from UK

This is a really hard thing to answer... I know how you feel though - I always feel bad about making someone feel bad even if I have to brush over the truth to avoid hurting somebody's feelings. The thing is that now so many people are turning to the internet to make a quick penny that hundreds of SEO companies and writing companies are springing up out of nowhere. They might sound like they know what they are doing but many of them just contact hundreds of people hoping that the odd one will accept. A proper SEO company would have been able to abide by your instructions and do what they can now to continue helping you. If I were you I would put it down to experience and stop this company from working on your site - it will be better for you in the long run. You can always search for another reputable company that can work alongside you and do what you want them to do.


Gary Shorthouse profile image

Gary Shorthouse 5 years ago from Reading, UK

Hi Business Info

Thanks for your information. I do not want to hijack this comment thread but here is the answer to your question.

In fact I underestimated their back-links. They have 13,000.

They say:

"If you go to Google UK and enter 'seo specialist' we are top, or 'seo' and we have a front page (9/10th) listing, also 'seo secrets' we are top."

So perhaps I am worrying too much? It is only a small website/business: www.stivesapartment.com but I would hate to do anything to damage it. (perhaps I am getting a little paranoid but sometimes I hate the power of Google (despite the nice t shirt...)


Business Info profile image

Business Info 5 years ago from The Interwebz

a cursory glance at their site says those boys know exactly what they are doing, if they've got a deal you like I advise you go for it.


Gary Shorthouse profile image

Gary Shorthouse 5 years ago from Reading, UK

OK Business info - you obviously know what you are talking about - I have read several of your hubs - I will take your advice and let you know what happens - and many thanks.


djlosada profile image

djlosada 5 years ago

I didn't read all the comments, so maybe what I'm about to say to you has already been addressed. Here it goes anyway.

1. Most of the problem with the on site optimization seems to be you not able to adapt to using the web server. Being afraid you will lose changes is not a good reason. You can write the code in microsoft word since you're doing it page by page. Then copy it onto the web server. Personally, I use the web server editor. I can review the changes immediately after I make them. Fast and simple. If I need to back up, I'll copy the code to my computer every once in a while.

2. There is NOTHING wrong with optimizing 6 pages only. The 6 are probably the main pages, which would be linked more. My guess is that you're not paying enough to optimize all 600 pages (that costs thousands done right).

3. There is NOTHING wrong with putting math books to link to educational page. If she is optimizing the page to math books, that probably means somewhere in the domain, math books are offered. It's actually a good idea. Example, "Get your

You keep complaining about how this firm is not to be trusted and you don't like the way you feel about the whole style of work, but you're actually not addressing any specific problems with the firm.

I probably sound REALLY mean. It's not intended. My message is this: Go with the flow, trust a bit, live a little, don't stick to your old ways like glue. Worry about all those pages you have to fix up and let her do the job she was paid to do.

I think the issue here is that you're not able to accept what you have to do to get your pages optimized for SEO.

If there is something I'm not understanding, go to http://www.spinship.com and get in contact with them. Give them a link to this hub and attention to "daniel".

I'll take a look at exactly what you're trying to do and give you options and routes you can take to make it easier for both you and your SEO firm.

Hope everything pans out better for you,

Daniel


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Gary and Business Info, I think you were mostly talking to each other and that's great. So I'm going to respond to djlosada instead.

1. I don't do code much. I'm using Expression Web 4. I'm in the process of revamping the entire site and was not really ready for SEO. I just got caught in a weak moment by a high pressure sales person and I should have known better and googled first to see the reputation of this company. My mistake, but I did want to warn others not to make the mistake I did. Because I'm about to use a template for the first time and I don't know how things will look live, I don't want to make these changes live. The point is, they should have told me before taking my money that they would insist on my working on the live site -- not after. I never would have signed up, because I don't feel comfortable working that way as a more experienced person does.

2. I only paid to have six pages optimized and I picked the ones that needed it -- the ones I most wanted traffic to. She put my analytics code on every page, something I would have eventually had to do anyway. When I fired this firm, she then closed MY analytics account --something she was not authorized to do, since it was my account before she ever came on the scene. I don't know how she got my information to do that, since she had my code on the site index page. She didn't need to get it from Google.

3. As to the links, the entire site is an education site and there were plenty of more relevant pages she could have linked to. As to letting her do the job she was paid to do, it's too late. I talked to her about making changes and it would have been more work to tell her about each specific change than to just make the changes myself. Had you taken the time to read the comments from other who do SEO, you will see that many did not approve the methods she was using. It was not a happy relationship for either of us. But "getting even" by closing my Google analytics account without authorization was after I let her go proved to me that she was not a true professional. This company has also just taken down people's sites if they want to transfer accounts they are hosting so that there is nothing left to transfer. The price I paid was stiff to learn the lesson I did. But I'm really not sorry the relationship is dissolved.


djlosada profile image

djlosada 5 years ago

Closing the Analytics account is definitely a no-no. WOW! I can't believe she did that!

It definitely gives hints of unprofessional service on the firm's part.

You should know something about SEO for future reference. There is not reason to rush it. To get the results you want, it should take months and even years to develop a "Search Engine Reputation". My advice is that you finish the design first, then you hire an SEO company to put the bits and pieces in. Bt if you're particular with how you describe your products, you should work one on one with a professional who will do keyword analysis for ALL your pages or come up with a dynamic solution.

To juggle design changes and SEO work at the same time, especially without the experience is probably 80% of the problem. I'd go crazy myself.

As far as analytics, you should have it on every page, but if your in the process of changing the design, you shouldn't worry about removing the code, it's a waste of time.

However, you convinced me the firm is not someone to hire.

The keywords being used should have been given to you in a list BEFORE they were used!

So what's the situation of your website now? I feel there is something of value I can help you with. Are you making these pages without some sort of content manager? In other words, you have 600 custom pages you wrote the code generated with front page?

That's a lot of work. I can show you better methods and you won't have to hire ANY SEO FIRM for the on-site work. I DON'T agree with Wholesale toys number 5: don't worry SO MUCH about the on-site optimization. Why? Because I've gotten pages to the top of the searches without building any links because the pages were well organized and optimized.

I live for and love this stuff. Let me take a look at your website and offer you solutions you'd be comfortable with.

Daniel :)


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Daniel, I have replied to this by contacting you directly, since it's just about turned into a private conversation. Thanks for your input.

Barb


carolinemoon profile image

carolinemoon 5 years ago

WOw. Thanks for sharing.


sägeblatt 5 years ago

I will take your advice and let you know what happens - and many thanks.


mico 5 years ago

Any seo company that does not treat yr data right is committing more or less a crime linked with professional negligence that can lead to financial loss.


deblipp profile image

deblipp 5 years ago

WannaB, I've been working in SEO for over 2 years, and I see several problems here.

First, most SEOs aren't going to have expertise in Front Page extensions. Unless CC told you that she's personally familiar with that, then she can't possibly know that her suggestions are harmless. It's old technology and it's easy to screw up -- the reason it's obsolete, after all, is that it IS so easy to screw up; it annoyed people.

Anchor text links to other pages are a good idea, but it should go to the most pertinent page. Also, footer links are old-fashioned SEO; I don't bother with them unless I have no other way of creating links.

When someone is creating a new site, an SEO can work with them, to make sure the optimal text, urls, links, etc. are set up the first time, rather than having to re-work. This is especially helpful when discussing url names and site structure. However, that isn't always possible.

If I have an existing SEO client who is upgrading their site, I provide them with a list of do's and don'ts for safe SEO changes, and then I review the site changes before they go live.

If I had a client like you; in the middle of site changes at the beginning of the SEO process, my role would be advisory until the changes went live.

I leave it up to my client to decide if they're more comfortable giving me ftp access or making recommended changes themselves. You have to respect people's privacy concerns!

When I first got into SEO, I read several books cover to cover, and took copious notes. Now I rely on forums and websites, for the simple reason that Google is constantly changing (as I write about here: http://clickresponse.net/blog/2011/03/15/a-graphic...

Here is a link to a hub of mine on SEO that I think you might find interesting: http://hubpages.com/technology/How-Professional-SE...


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

deblipp, thank you for your added tips. My personal consultant from the company I hired said she was familiar with Expression Web, which I'm now using. She gave me no option of making changes myself. Your way of working sounds more reasonable. .

Yesterday I was approached again by phone by another company. It was low pressure, sounded like a reasonable person, and he even invited me to view the company's physical location in a town about four hours from me near where I used to live. I told him my site wasn't ready yet, and he said he'd send a link to a page that would help me optimize as I build. You sound a bit more like him. I still didn't get the email he promised, though, and I even checked my computer spam folder -- just not the one on the server. I hate going there. I will check out your resources.


Jacob_Jube profile image

Jacob_Jube 5 years ago

I simply would love to know where they are ranking in their terms and keywords ...

If I will be satisfied with that ... than I will move to next stage.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

Jacob, which "they" are you referring to above? Do you mean that is what you would want to find out before hiring someone?


wayseeker profile image

wayseeker 5 years ago from Colorado

Wow. This is all pretty staggering. I have just now begun my journey in online writing with my work here on Hubpages. Eventually, I would like for it to become a viable source of income, though it need not be large.

For now I'm focusing on generating high-quality material. I suppose I'll be digging in to this SEO monster soon enough!

Thanks for posting this here.

Best,

wayseeker


Etherealenigma profile image

Etherealenigma 4 years ago from Florida

WannaB...this was very informative. I read through all the responses, and I too am new to this SEO stuff. I'm lucky if I can understand how to utilize wordpress fully, as I find the jargon in their help section to be totally confusing.

However, I do write on several sites, and I want to have my own hosted, affiliate generating site, as I am also looking to have my writing become a major income source as well as my massage therapy. The info here has made me want to be even more cautious in how I set things up. I hate reading tech books, but it seems a necessity for this. Maybe I can incorporate my 16yr old into that part, but I see that either way, my path will be challenging in getting the same accomplished. I will be referring to this post often, and have even copied it to a word doc for review at home.

One thing I wish, is that you would edit this hub to reveal the company you dealt with. I think that any company that doesn't deal fairly with a client, especially demonstrated by the vindictive behavior they showed you, should be put on blast. I personally don't hesitate to do so, as you would see in a few of my hubs, or other writings elsewhere. I find that one of the best ways to get people, particularly businesses to pay attention to their unethical business practices, is to give them bad publicity, because let's face it; exposure is everything if you want to make money.

Good luck with getting your site straight. I will be following you for updates, and perhaps some advice on the wrestling I will soon be doing myself with wordpress. GB


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA Author

I thought I did give it away in one of the comments. I'm tempted to, but they pretty much threatened to give my company a bad name if I did. Hint: It rhymes with Rain Sleet Post. They even had the nerve to have a new sales rep call me a few weeks ago to design a web site for me. I asked them to clarify the name of their company, and when I heard it, I told them I'd already dealt with them and would never do it again. To avoid tangling with them, just google the name of any company in this field before engaging them. There is whole web site devoted to complaints about the company I dealt with. I don't recall the link right now. One good policy is not to do business with anyone who cold calls you to solicit.

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