SEO experts seem to be a dime a dozen these days. But not everyone claiming to be a SEO experts knows what they are doing. I think the best standard is that they have to know more than I do. I am by no stretch of the imagination an SEO Expert (I am a self-proclaimed SEO noob). Everything I know about SEO is reflected on this site. Not to mention I have literally been poked with a stick to know what I know (I would have preferred to play video games).
So before I go into a whole spill about not being an SEO expert and having ADD, and that I find SEO boring; I know enough to spot a crappy SEO Expert.
The reason for this post was because of so called SEO Experts Mindshark.ca. In July 2010 prior to them starting up they decided to harvest my email from this site for the purposes of spamming. One of their first spammings was about my competitors having an edge. Granted if someone else came along and actually did what I do better than me, I would happily stand a side. But it does not appear anyone wants to write reviews about hosting review sites. Because these so called SEO Experts decided to claim I opted in I decided to complain to Netfirms and wrote two posts, one of which was to prove they were not the SEO Experts that they claimed to be.
I re-reviewed them last month. Which triggered a furry of emails asking me who to go with. While I know some really good people in the business, you may not want to pay what they ask for (probable because no one returned my email after mentioning they were not cheap). I can tell you how I spotted the problems with Mindshark.ca; those details can help in making an informed decision when shopping for a SEO Expert.
Top Ten Tips for seeing if your SEO Expert is Valid
1. Alexa.com tells you how well SEO Experts rank
If you read enough of this blog there is no surprise that Alexa is at the top of the list. Out of any SEO detail I find Alexa.com interesting. Which maybe has to do with the fact that Alexa.com belongs to Amazon.com, or maybe it has to do with history graphs. Yes, amazingly historical graph charts can keep my attention. If any SEO Expert tries to tell you that Alexa.com is not a valid measure of a site’s traffic, promptly mark their emails as spam.
I have used Alexa in many cases to prove that hosts may have just started or to show how popular they may be. It can work just as well for looking at SEO Experts and their sites. In fact Alexa.com can tell you a lot about rather if someone is actually a SEO expert. They should be able to do for themselves what they claim they will do for you.
In case you don’t understand how Alexa works, low numbers good, high numbers bad. For more details see: http://www.alexa.com/help/traffic-learn-more
Examples of some sites I visit:
Facebook.com – 1
Google.com – 2
Yahoo.com – 4
Twitter.com – 8
Amazon.com – 10
Netflix.com – 96
Hostgator.com – 240
Tigerdirect.com – 1,497
Penny-arcade.com – 5,223
Centralops.net – 18,996
Romanticallyapocalyptic.com – 74,178
After 21 days how did hosting-reviews-exposed.com do compared to so called SEO Experts Mindshark.ca?
Hosting-reviews-exposed.com – 125,586 formally 129,240, a loss of 3,654. Nice but I am sure other people could do better.
Alexa.com says this about Hosting-review-exposed.com.
There are 125,585 sites with a better three-month global Alexa traffic rank than Hosting-reviews-exposed.com.
Mindshark.ca – 768,973 formally 637,187, a gain of 131,786. In terms of being SEO Experts this is really bad. That number should be going down.
Another warning sign is when you see this “Historical data not available for sites ranked > ~ 100,00”, if you see that with any so called SEO Expert run, don’t walk. For some reason Alexa.com is showing historical data for Hosting-reviews-exposed.com I can only assume because their system predicts this site will go below 100,000.
However Alexa.com is not fool proof, there are ways so called SEO Experts can fool the system. I suggest avoiding any service that artificially enhances your Alexa score as this can have a negative effect on your site later on.
There are places you can go online to pay to ping a site to fake traffic numbers, most can get you below 100,000 on Alexa.com. However that does not guarantee there are no tell-tale signs. Clearly that is the case with this site that rigs Alexa scores.
Another thing to look for is what countries that are highest in traffic. For example, so called SEO experts Mindshark.ca claims “Home to the latest and greatest Internet Marketing Strategies in North America,”
No Surprise but Mindshark.ca, self-proclaimed SEO Experts are not even big in their own country Canada.
Which if there is any place you want to have traffic in, it would be your own country. Especially when their propaganda lists Toronto, London, and Sydney along with New York and Delhi.
Another tell-tale sign is if the extreme ups and downs in traffic history.
The above chart is from one of those Alexa score boosting companies, clearly their attempts to manipulate the system have back fired. I think at worst the highest a SEO Expert’s site should be is at 100,000 or lower.
2. Centralops.net and Archive.net – When a SEO Expert’s history matters
So you get claims that someone has been using an SEO expert for years, maybe even a decade or more. Perhaps this SEO expert uses their BBB record as proof that they were around that long. Problem is the BBB does not verify when a company got into business.
Domains whois information on the other hand is next to impossible to fake.
However creation dates don’t tell the whole story. Maybe like me they had the domain for years before using, or they purchased it as a “aged domain”. Which is why I recommend looking at archive.net (thewaybackmachine). This site will tell you what a site looked like from creation to today. Few changes indicated little was done with the site. A domain providers start up page for years at a time indicated they were not active. One site that is a perfect example is Zyma.com it was formally a construction site out of Spain, and late 2010 they became a British hosting company.
3. What the Better Business Bureau can tell you about SEO Experts
I know I just told you not to trust the start date. Anyone that knows me might think it a bit odd that I would use the BBB as a reference. But there is a valid reason. One thing to note is it took years before mindshark.ca was actually registered with the BBB, and they contacted me not long after we launched. Perhaps it is not the case for everyone.
But that is not what I think should be focused on. The real issue I have with this SEO Expert’s BBB record they claim they have 200 plus resellers, 300 plus SEO firms that outsource to them, and 4,000 plus clients.
This strikes me as odd:
Why might I find a record that has zero complaints odd? Because it is too good to be true. There is always going to be a customer that cannot be pleased, especially when you offer “Affordable SEO services”, i.e. cheap. Not to mention no company is perfect. Never mind this SEO expert claims to be in business since 2006, the last three years have zero complaints.
No one can please every customer they have, even if they cherry pick who is going to be a customer.
4. SEO Experts with Google Page Rank less than 5 need not apply.
I recommend using this site to see what your SEO experts page rank is.
From what I am told a page rank of 5 is the lowest you want to go with someone that claims to be a SEO expert.
As for what Google Page rank is:
5. Search Engine results, what Yahoo.com, Bing.com, and Google tells you about SEO Experts.
At worst any self-proclaimed SEO expert should have the main page populated keeping off any negative feedback about their company for any search for just their name.
Example what searching for “mindshark.ca” shows on Bing.com, Yahoo.com, and Google.com: To date I have at least two posts on the first page of their search engine results.
6. How social are SEO Experts – Social Media Facebook / Twitter
About 4 years ago I learned a trick for getting Twitter followers. That is to follow someone who follows whoever follows them. There is software that can do this for you. It is super easy to spot. Example someone has 17,000 followers, and they are following 17,000 people. For my twitter account for this site @hostingscams, I have 1,700 followers, yet I follow about 20 people. I don’t follow everyone that follows me simply because there is no way I could keep track of every tweet. Plus not every twitter account is following me for the sheer sake of seeing who I am doing a blog post on. I get at least 3 – 8 a day that stop following me after 24 hours.
Clearly Mindshark.ca is using this method.
Twitter followers can also be purchased. You might want to check the followers to see how many people they actually follow.
Facebook is a harder thing to figure out. I know that likes can also be purchased.
My own page has 675 followers at this time. While appreciate the likes I tend to doubt my Facebook pages represents normal active websites and their social media. But there are some clear details I see when looking at the visitors for self-proclaimed SEO Experts Mindshark.ca.
What I see as problematic is the age bracket 18 -24 year olds. The other problem is the rate of visitors is rare. So rare that the best week was 1 visitor. Even with 675 likes I appear to have more engagement with the people that liked my site, despite my lack of daily activity.
7. How did you find this SEO expert, or did they find you?
One of the things I have noticed with Mindshark.ca is that they literally phished for details. They got my email by going to my contact form, replying to them justified adding me to their mailing list. Never mind their initial mail out did not have my name. Others had their email and phone numbers harvested through sites that were meant to connect with professionals. They meant to connect with other people that would provide them work, not the other way around.
First Contact from a SEO Expert firm should not start off with a one size fits all mail out. I can understand a firm contacting a website, and providing details one what they see with their site, and what potential the site has with hard numbers.
Did the SEO Expert contact you? Did they have permission to put you on their mailing list? If they put you on their mailing list avoid them. Never do business with anyone that spams you.
I wish I could tell you how to find a SEO expert but the best I can do is tell you to try forums and advertising. The people I deal with generally word of mouth from designers like myself.
8. SEO Experts Testimonials
One thing that stuck out to me with mindshark.ca was the testimonials. A site claiming to offer SEO services should have websites in their testimonials. There were none.
Should a site(s) appear in the testimonials points 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 should be used to see how well they performed.
9. SEO Experts awards
If there is anything to be learned from the hosting review industry, its awards are not always earned. They are often bought.
- Awards that are vague on details.
- Awards that look like they were written by the SEO experts.
- Awards site that has a link for advertise with us, when there is no visible advertising on the site.
- Awards sites that have no visible source of income.
- SEO Experts Awards that do not link directly back to the independent “unaffiliated” party
- Awards that are more so an affiliation than an award (example they use a merchant so that merchant gives them a page to promote from).
- Things that are listed as awards that let anyone put their site up.
- They received an award from a site that has a top 10 list of SEO Experts, and the one you are looking at has an affiliate program.
- Award sites with the same whois and/or network details as the SEO Expert
- Award sites that fail at points 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6.
While I am no expert on SEO Expert awards, I can only assume that what was very visible in the Hosting Review industry would apply very well to the SEO Review industry.
10. The SEO Expert warns you about other SEO experts, sends you testiomonials and awards. Yet the SEO Expert fails to send you ideas.
One thing I noticed from the emails I got that Mindshark.ca was sending out was warning about:
“These signs have been compiled after close examination of the common features of many Unethical and Inexperienced SEO firms which exist.”
Clearly what this is for is to keep you from looking at other SEO Experts; it is designed to cause doubt. The awards and testimonials I have already covered how to look at. But clearly they are being sent to impress.
What you should be getting from any SEO expert is a plan of action. If you are in a field that is competitive they should be able to tell you what your competitors strong points and weak points are.
Finding SEO experts is no easy task
Things to remember:
- There is no such thing as a quick fix
- Its not a one time deal
- What worked 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or 1 year ago may no longer work today.
- They should have targets like traffic, keywords, and demographics.
When it comes to any service be they SEO Experts or whatever else, buyer beware.