Before you Hire an SEO Company

It’s the new year – let’s hire someone to ruin our reputation in 2011

I can tell some of you have been busy putting together your business plan for the new year;   on that to do list for some was hiring an SEO company to help get your website/blog higher rankings.

During the last month of 2010 I received about 10 emails a day from companies (at least they indicated they were companies) saying they could get me higher rankings and more traffic to my site.   (Yes even the lab that doesn’t sell anything).   All I had to do was respond to the email or call an 800 number and like magic I too could be “ON PAGE ONE OF GOOGLE”.

Here is an example of a comment that came in yesterday on a short simple post about the lab running on WordPress 3.0.1.

I am a new member. Also, I am starting my business. This post is important to me. I gained useful knowledge which I did not know before from this post.

I was eating at a restaurant last night when that one came into my email box. I showed it to my wife and we both grinned at the obvious “English as a second language” sentence structure.

Today I check the url for the comment.   It comes supposedly from a site in Memphis.   The agent there has a degree in Law and loves to write.   Hum.

I’m going out on a limb and guessing he didn’t leave this comment.   I’m guessing he hired a company to SEO his site.   And that company is doing just that.   SEO standing for “Spam Everyone Online”.

I’ve written about this practice before here at the Lab, but it’s good to review this topic as we start off 2011.

Do It Yourself SEO

Instead of paying a company to get your email and website thrown in the spam filter at Aksimet.   I’ve got a better idea and you can buy me cup of coffee with the money you’ll save.

  1. Pick out 7 to 12 blogs to read weekly and leave contributing comments.
  2. Contact a few friends who have sites and ask them for a link (it can’t hurt)
  3. Get your site listed in a few directories (good for one way links)
  4. Write more content (yeah, adding good content is great SEO)

There you go, a quick 4 step plan to increase your site SEO in 2011.

Mark Jacobs just weighed in on this SEO issue. I should have ended this post with “A call to action” So I’ll add it here. Anybody else doing their own SEO and on Page one of Google? Anyone, paid a company to do SEO and found out all they got was a big bill? If you don’t want to admit this in public You can use an alias for a name 🙂


  1. I do my own SEO and I am on the front page of Google for my keywords. I get call after call for people who want to put me on the first page of Google for lots of money. I wish they would check first before they call. Agents need to take the time to get a basic level of understanding of SEO and save big $$$$

  2. Mark,

    Very true, thanks for the comment. Any more out there doing their own SEO and on Page 1 of Google?


  3. I do my own SEO (and am admittedly fairly lazy about it) and I usually AM page one of the Google results. I’m in a very specific niche, so it’s a bit easier, but I’ve mostly focused on on-site SEO and it’s been working. This year is a focus on going for off-site SEO to try to rank for some less specific keywords.

  4. Nick,

    You’re already rockin it, so the competition should watch out in 2011.


  5. Great Post. Some people really need to hear this. There are too many people using these types of services, generating spammy comments. I liked how you defined SEO ” Spam Everywhere Online.” lol

  6. Very Useful information, 4 better ways to get traffic. I am doing own SEO for my site.

  7. It is definitely possible to be on page one of Google just by creating great content and contributing to other sites. But I have seen plenty of sites on page one that are definitely using SEO robo-like blog comments. They don’t seem to be penalized at the moment though, because just looking at my competitors I see high ranking sites with hundreds of questionable links. Do you think a Google will roll out an update soon to negate this?

  8. Krista,

    Google never stops tweaking. They have in the past few months given more weight to sites that are “bigger” and “main stream” in a community. It has made it harder for a local agent to compete against a brokerage or large business like Trulia or Zillow. And the buying of links and much that is advertised as SEO is really the selling of links, will at some point come back to bite all that are paying for rankings.

    Google is the all seeing eye.


  9. Wow, shows how naive I am. I had no idea there were actually people outsourcing commenting. How’s it a comment if it’s not in your voice? Weird.

    Great tips. I will take them to heart.

  10. I agree totally with you SEO opinion.
    The real estate world can get by
    just fine by using your 4 Commandments!
    All the best in 2011!

  11. Yeah, you really have to watch out for those companies that “guarantee” first page rankings. Webmasters continuously get bombarded with those emails. I always wonder if that strategy ever works.

  12. I’ve never paid a nickle for SEO and rank pretty well…

    Got a call from an “SEO expert” on Friday that started like this:

    “Hi, we’ve noticed you are in real estate but have no internet presence and don’t rank on the search engines”

    Me: “How did you get my number?”

    “Off the internet”

    Me: “So I *do* have an internet presence.

    “Uh, well, uhm you just don’t rank for any key words”

    Me: “Really? I wonder how those 2,000 people are finding my site every day?”

    ….. silence …

  13. Good one Jay,

    LOL, love to start my day with a good laugh.


  14. I get tons of these in my lead capture pages all of the time. They promise if I give them a call I will get page one ranking quick. I wonder if they noticed I had a “real” company build my site and I give “real” comments to build my SEO.

    Great article..

  15. Ok… This is going to sound wierd to readers who may not know me too well, but I agree totally with what Dave is saying…and I do SEO for a living. The honest and reputable SEO firms out there will TELL you what he just did.

    And yeah…I coach people…and I have had SOLID results for years both for myself and for clients, but the VAST MAJORITY of SEO can and should be simply this: You as a REALTOR making your online reputation match your offline reputation as well as working on maximizing BOTH.

    While I do a lot of things for clients, what I MOSTLY do is coach them on how to take the steps he outlined in the most efficient way possible and I use my experience to help them if the have a SPECIFIC issue.

    What I find more often than not is that people simply do not want to work as hard as Jay does to make his online rep match his offline. There is a REASON he is successful. He has served the online community and given up a big piece of his time and privacy to do it.

    Every form of refuge has its price. 😉

    That said, does it pay off? I would say that for those who apply themselves it certainly does.

    I think the start of the year is a GREAT time for people to make plan on how to spend their time. Working on their online reputation is a good use of that time IF spent wisely.

  16. Eric,

    Happy New Year!



  17. You can also add Article Marketing – write few articles, get them published on article directories and get a link back. Guest blogging is also a good option to promote your website/blog.

  18. Melissa,

    I’ve never done an article. I’ve thought about it a few times but ended up always putting the content on one of my sites. But I hear article writing is a good way to get one way backlinks.


  19. I get one of more of those calls, emails or contact form submissions every dang week. I suppose they must just pull a list off of active rain and start calling?

    I’ve used reputable seo companies in the past and I’ve done some myself. My 2011 tech budget will be focused on adding features to the front and back end of my websites, I’ll be handling the seo this year.

  20. I have never yet used a seo company as they seem to be quite expensive and even want to be paid a monthly fee. I am now spending a little time looking at what other people do to get noticed on the web. I have found that nearly all the sites are very helpful and informative.

  21. Do you think you can share that 1-800 number? I need to improve my rankings 🙂

  22. My most preferred way of SEO is guest blogging.. I also use article marketing…

  23. Tony, 🙂

    That would be 1-800-CHA-CHING

  24. Unfortunately the world of online marketing will always have its spammers and waste-of-time SEO “experts.” The problem is anyone thinks they can send out poor comments and badly written articles as a great way to get rankings up. I’ve found that the best way to do well with SEO is just like you said. Find some great websites that you can genuinly interact with when it comes to comments. Not just a generic, “hey there, great post. Will keep reading!” Anyone who cares about their blog/site and works hard on it will know this is a spammer from a mile away. Home SEO can be great, but very time consuming. If you’re going to hire, do your research about cost related to results with whomever you’re considering.

  25. I have had one very very bad experience with a “self proclaimed” SEO expert. Since then I have been doing SEO my self (though I am not good at it)

  26. I managed an office for a few years and was hit up weekly by telemaketers guaranteeing page one placement for the most basic real estate search terms in my market. The fees were outrageous and the salespeople pretty confident in their abilities. Thankfully I had some help from friends who taught me enough about SEO to at least smell the BS I was getting from these guys.

    While I’ve benefited from some sites that allowed me to win at long tail search results, I have been trying to gain some traction with the most basic search terms: Temecula Homes For Sale, Temecula Real Estate, etc… and the thing I’ve noticed is that the guy whose winning in my market is totally using some type of offshore-sweatshop, black-hat back-linking operation to gain the #1 position. Makes me want to go over the dark side and just pay some guy in China $100 to get a jillion back links. Doesn’t look like Google cares.

    Thanks for this post. I’m going to bookmark this place…you’ve got some cool content.

  27. Joe,

    It does get tempting, but when you take the time to build those links and rankings yourself, you know that they aren’t all going to suddenly disappear if you stop paying the SEO pimp.

    I just took a quick look at your site and ran a site: search in google on your domain. You have over 1,700 pages indexed. Thats too many pages. It is hurting your keyword density for the search terms you really want to rank for. Next I started checking some of those listing pages and found some that are sold and all the content is removed with the message about property details no longer available. Those are dead pages and they are dragging on you like an anchor.

    Once those properties sell and the details removed, delete the page. If you can get rid of about 800 pages so you are around 1000 pages of content that will help. And blog the more you post about your community. The better you will rank.


  28. I’m going all my own SEO. Didn’t first page rank for all my keywords yet but I’ve only really had my site up 4 months.

    Scottsdale is quite a competitive market. Quite a few tech savvy REALTOR’s here.

    One thing to remember though is to make sure your site stays for clients first, google only comes second.

  29. Marta,

    You one thing to remember is the flaw in your logic:

    One thing to remember though is to make sure your site stays for clients first, google only comes second.

    It is the chicken and egg debate. Consider this, a site that is First for your clients is a tree in the forest if it can’t be found. First we have to build our site so it can be found (stucture) Then we furnish it for our clients (content).
    Great content 100 pages deep in the Google index is the same as no content at all.

    I see to many focusing on getting found in Google. But when you get to their site, it is empty. No one shops at a empty store more than once, even if the store is on Times Square.


  30. What I was more referring to is making sure the site meshes with your overall brand strategy. For me my real estate website is my own name, my own personal brand so it needs to make sense to visitors coming from referral, offline marketing as well as to search visitors. So I need to think of Google only after I feel my brand needs are satisfied, one chance to make a first impression type thing.

    Luckily WordPress lets me do everything all at once really. Clear brand image, easy navigation, lots of content.

    I’ve just been messing about with Magazeen theme elsewhere, cool theme 🙂

  31. I like your current TwentyTen theme on your site. Keep up the blogging, the site has nice eye appeal.


  32. Great Post! We should all aspire to be such a good writer as your self. Hey look I can write as good as the Spammers.. In all seriousness I get companies all the time telling me I do not rank for words like: Omaha’s Best Realtor To Work For On A Tuesday Before Noon and for $100.00 month I can be number one for that key word on google all month. Am I in front of a computer to check it out? I know there are gobs of cash to be made on Realtors for crap SEO..

  33. It’s crazy how many people/companies guarantee that they can get you on the first page of google! I mean how long is the first page anyway? Is there enough room for everyone? I get those “english as a second language” posts all the time and I do exactly what you do….click the link and make sure it is a genuine comment! Your post is simple, straight to the point, and most importantly only costs time! I spend about 1 hour a day coming up with new content, djing some interesting articles, creating videos, and contributing to others blogs, and I hope to earn my way to the top! thx for sharing!

  34. I have to agree, do it yourself….unless you really don’t have the time. In that case, I would recommend hiring Eric Blackwell!

  35. joseph davidovic says

    I’ve read the postings and find them very interesting. What happens is that proper SEO takes time and effort, some people are just too busy building their business and need to outsource services.

  36. Joseph,

    Outsourcing is fine. Here’s the problem. Who do you outsource to? Building SEO isn’t about hiring some off-shore firm to leave spammy comments around the web in your name.

    Building SEO isn’t about paying some link farm company a monthly fee to add you into their Google Gaming Farm (with the drug deal effect, you leave us, you no longer have backlinks)

    Building SEO can be outsourced. I know, I’m hired quite often to SEO sites for small business. But what I do and teach doesn’t require paying me a monthly fee or I jerk your collar and collapse your rankings. This is what needs to be done, but 99% of the time isn’t.


    BTW (I’m not trying to drum up business, #justsayin)

  37. SEO rocks!