I thought I should add a post on to my previous one about the dangers of cheap web design and cheap SEO, with some specific warnings that Google puts out to businesses. If you’re in Los Angeles, California or Seattle, Washington, and own a business, I’d highly recommend you look at these first.
1. Google does not accept money to increase search ranking. No company has a special or preferred relationship with Google that will help your search ranking increase. Paid advertising in Google is called Adwords and is completely unaffiliated with organic search ranking.
2. Never hire companies that guarantee search ranking. “There is no way to guarantee ranking”. Most SEO companies that guarantee ranking build in specific contingencies in their contracts that screw you, the business owner. Things like: ‘If we achieve #1 ranking, then you pay us for X number of months’, or ‘If we achieve #1 ranking, then you pay us X bonus’, etc.
3. Never hire companies that are not completely transparent and are in full compliance with Google’s Webmaster guidelines. Most SEO contracts don’t guarantee that the company uses best practices as defined by Google. Which means that if they screw up, and your business gets damaged, you’re still left with the bill. At all times, an SEO firm should be able to tell you what their strategy is, what they’ve done, and will be doing for you.
4. Beware of firms that have limited presence online, or that are not registered with the state licensing agencies necessary for all business that practice within the state of California. Its easy to put up a website and come up with a company name, but not as easy to keep a good reputation, and maintain licensing compliance.
5. Verify their credentials. If they say they worked with a major company, ask for the contact person and a number that they can reach the individual at. Call at a random time and see what occurs.
If you are concerned about a company, and that they may be violating any of these things, visit the FTC website.
The full, Google version of the guidelines that webmasters (and their SEO firms) should abide by can be found here: Google’s SEO Guidelines.