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Search Engine Optimisation Cowboys

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Goodness me! There are a lot of cowboys out there when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation. I discovered this when I was wanting to promote a website I was working with in 2009.

One of the big claims often bandied around is no guarantees. The claims of what they can do come thick and fast, but the contract will often have some sort of 'no guarantees' clause. This basically can mean that they do not have to do the very thing they promised you. They may tell you that it is only in there as a worst case scenario exclusion clause, but if it is in there, it is in there for whatever reason they choose to use it for! If it has been talked about and assurances made about what they will and will not use it for - if it is in there, they can use it for whatever they want.

Get everything in writing. When it comes to payment, the contract will, no doubt be perfectly clear, absolutely no get out, it will say what is to be paid and when it is to be paid, what happens if it is not paid, etc. This is partly because it is simpler to clarify than a service, and also to make the contract airtight without an escape route (naturally to protect themselves).

However, when it comes to what you will get for your money, this is reasonably likely to be less than clear, leaving things open to interpretation - their interpretation. As SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) does not have a recognised 'authority' to refer to, it can be difficult to have a solid defence when it comes to the quality of the service offered. If you refer to a professional or expert witness, they will probably refer to a different one, and so on.

It is hard to get guarantees when it comes to SEO, but it is so important. Do not believe anyone who claims to be ranked highly on anything. Ask yourself, :could there be anything in it for the people who rank them? : - the answer will often, if not always be 'yes'. Are they accredited by someone? Again, are the people who accredit them paid?

Another thing to look out for is what is on offer from them. Is it just directory submissions and free article submissions? These are of extremely low value as to the point of not being worth the bother. One 'good' link can be worth 5000 directory submissions! The big problems with directory 'submissions' are that the search engines are effectively 'intelligent' and have, in the most part, discounted this type of link. Secondly, the fact that a submission it just that - a 'submission'. These companies can often exclude this simple fact from discussions.

Are they going to do SEO by commenting on blogs for you? Again these are often of very low value, requiring a lot to be of real value.

Are they building links on sites that are owned by themselves? This could be ok for a while, but if and when the Engines discover their scheme, the links lose their value or potentially damage your site. Another, and potentially more significant problem is that if they own the sites and you leave their company - you lose the links. Therefore you are not paying them for lasting value, but rather paying them for a period of rent - leave and lose or pay to stay.