SEO - Are we all being ripped off?

I'm finding this topic makes my blood boil, and we need to get to the bottom of it!

So many of you (and us when we first had our plumbing website), are now starting to ask questions about how effective is your SEO and just exactly what are you getting for your $1000/month.  It's time to get to the bottom of it.  I'm apologising now because it's a long blog....

Here's what I know for a fact, it's in very basic form - but it's how I wished someone had explained it to me.  There are 2 different types of SEO (which stands for Search Engine Optimisation - or in layman's terms, how we get found on the internet).

1. ON-Page SEO:

This is everything we do within our website such as title, description, content, images, keywords, internal links etc.  It really just means building or structuring your website correctly so that Search Engines can find you.

2. OFF-Page SEO:

This is the stuff that makes our websites popular on the internet so we get more visibility.  On-Page SEO techniques let search engines find us, but it's the OFF-page SEO stuff that helps improve our website position within search engines.  The most common forms of OFF Page SEO include:

  • Social Media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin.... etc)
  • Social Bookmarking Sites (delicious.com, stumbleupon.com, digg.com...etc)
  • Forum Submissions (this is where you might join in on other people's forums that are related to Plumbing or the Trades Industry.  You might reply or answer people's questions and give your advice)
  • Blog Directory Submissions (Adding blogs to these sites can help you build quality back links - but you must put your blog in the correct category.  Eg sites: boingboing.net, technorati.com etc)
  • Article Submissions (You can submit articles to high PR submission directories and include a link back to your website.  Content needs to be unique and of high value.  Eg sites: thefreelibrary.com, magportal.com etc)
  • Question and Answer websites (Join high traffic Q&A sites and search for questions related to plumbing - give clear answers and a link back to your website.  Eg sites: answers.yahoo.com, quora.com etc)
  • Video Submission (youtube, vimeo etc)

There's a couple more methods, but they're not really relevant for our Industry - Image Sharing Sites (sorry - but whilst you might find it amusing, your customer doesn't want to see a pic of you holding up an electric eel rod with 'girlie' products hanging off it), Infographic Submissions - sure whilst I probably should understand how all the drains link up in my house, I'm not going to look at a pretty diagram with pics on it showing me this, Document Sharing - again as much as we want to educate our customers on all things plumbing, they're just not interested in reading about it.  They just want they're problem fixed.  So whilst these are all still good methods of OFF-Site SEO, they're probably not the best for this industry.

Conclusion:

You need both ON-Site SEO and OFF-Site SEO done correctly to give you a better position in Search Engines.  Both are equally important and both are ongoing.

OK so this makes sense right?  But what I want to know is this:  how many of you are getting reports from your SEO people showing you exactly what SEO things they've done for that month?  Are you getting copies of all articles, blogs, social media that they've written - what about 'link-sites', if any, they've added your website to?  Have they found new keywords to add to a page on your website?  Are they updating your website with new content or adding in extra pages when you decide to add a new service to your business? Or were they only asked to work on your Pay-Per-Click Adwords Campaign? What exactly are you getting for your money?  Sure it's easy to pull data from Google Analytics or Adwords to show you how many clicks or page views you've had and what the increase has been - but what are THEY physically doing to INCREASE this for YOU!  If you're the one doing all the facebook posts and writing blogs - what exactly are they doing?  If it's Pay-Per-Click campaigns, yes I can see how these would need to be constantly monitored and tweaked to get the results you need..... but is there something else that's being done?

Here's another thing to think about.  I read somewhere that quite a few "Web Designers" don't believe ON-SITE Seo is their job, but rather the job of an SEO specialist.  Then I heard that some SEO specialists don't want to touch your existing website, but rather just do the OFF-Site stuff - but we haven't exactly established what they're doing if they're not doing all the OFF-Site techniques mentioned above....  

So where does that leave your website if it wasn't set up correctly from the start?  Who goes in and fixes up all the ON-Site SEO that's never been done 100% correctly?

OK - I don't know about you, but it seems like there's alot of SEO mumbo-jumbo going on behind the scenes that we as Business Owners don't really know.... AND WE SHOULD KNOW THIS!  It's like we're all being baffled by some incredibly hard SEO science and we're being won over by Smoke and Mirrors Campaigns.  

I've done my own research over the years and the first port of call for anyone wanting to do the same should be GOOGLE's own Guide to SEO.  Here's the link if you're up for the read:  Google - search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf

I'm not saying that we need to know this so that we all start doing our own SEO (yeah like we've got time for that as well), but rather so we can ask the right questions of the SEO companies.  So that we understand what we're getting for our money and so we're all in an informed position to work out if we're getting a return on our investments.  AND.... so you know what YOU need to be doing yourself, ie social media etc

There's definitely many SEO companies out there doing the right thing but there's a hell of alot of others that aren't.  And how do you and I know who's good and who's not, if we don't have a basic understanding of SEO and know what questions to ask?

It's time to get informed guys - do some homework if you're worried about it.  And if you want me to have a look at your website to see if you need work done on the ON-Site SEO - please either write in the comments below or send me an email to [email protected]  There are tools I can use to see if things have been set up properly, and if they haven't... well at least you'll know where to make a start on improving things. (We may be able to help you with that.)

Note: Out of the 4 plumbers websites we've looked at this week, who are paying for SEO work, only 1 website has been set up correctly and is actually getting value for his money!!!

Not sure if this has helped you or confused you more, but we just don't want to see anymore plumbers getting ripped off by dodgy SEO companies!

Feel free to comment below or share if you know anyone else that might be interested in this.