Choosing a SEO Company

 
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So going trough my usual daily e-mails, I find this :


Hello,

I just visited your website at www.webxperience.org. Below I have provided you with a no charge service related to your website.

Just so you know, this is one-time mailing sent by a person (me!) who has visited your website. I have not added you to any list.

For your no charge service I conducted a link check for your website. I searched on Google for link:http://www.webxperience.org and found that you have 2260 websites linking to you that are in Google’s database (try it, you can see lists of websites that are linking to any other website by doing this).

As you may be aware, by getting more links to your website you can achieve much better rankings on Google, Yahoo and MSN and thereby attract more customers. Getting websites linking to you is extremely time consuming but is essential to achieve top search engine rankings.

This is where you will really benefit from our service. Using your chosen search terms (we can help you select these if you like) we can achieve your top 10 rankings on Google, Yahoo, MSN. We do this by using a combination of tried and tested “off-site” (getting websites linking to you) and “on-site” techniques.

So confident are we, that once your account is opened, we provide you with a “money back plus” guarantee should we not obtain the top 10 rankings you require.

We have already been very successful in obtaining top 10 rankings on Google, Yahoo and MSN for our clients and would be pleased to show you examples. We are highly confident we can achieve the same success for you.

You will also be provided with regular rankings reports to keep you fully informed. These reports are not only about your own search engine rankings but also the rankings for your 3 major competitors. After all, if one of your competitors has great results for a product or service you provide, they are taking business away from you.

Search engine rankings reports are available as a separate “stand alone” service should this be required.

For further details please either phone us 24/7 on 0845 0519353 or send an email to John at removed@optimaloptimization.com who will be happy to provide you with all the necessary details for you to make an informed decision.

Best Regards
Lynn Zhang

OptimalOptimization.com
27 Old Gloucester Street
London
WC1N 3XX
Tel: 0845 0519353
My Email: removed@optimaloptimization.com
Email For This Promotion: removed@optimaloptimization.com
Website For This Promotion: www.optimalo ptimization.com
Approved by the UK Government Department for Education & Skills as a Registered Supplier of Interactive Web Applications for Schools

PLEASE NOTE: This email is not *spam, it was manually sent by an individual their sole purpose being to introduce ourselves to you with no obligation on your part, your email address has not been added to any list. We consider this to be a polite way to contact you and apologise sincerely if you have been inconvenienced in any way. Whilst this is the only email you will receive from me, and I again confirm you are not on a list of any kind with us, I am legally obliged to offer an ‘opt-out’ from future mailings from me; should you wish to exercise this right, please reply with “opt-out” in the subject field.
*Defined officially as, sent in bulk, automated and unsolicited (must be all 3 to be spam).

If you look carefully, you will surely agree with me that this is a spam e-mail, sent automatically, without consent on my behalf.

What strikes me, is that a lot of people actually fall in their (all these so-called seo companies) grasps and little tricks and become their clients. I would call this public disinformation.

Before you acquire any services from a SEO firm, be sure to check a few pointers about them:

Things to check before you aquire services

1. Do they have a contact section, with an address, telephone number and e-mail ?
2. Do they have a portfolio on the website ? That’s a strong indicator of the work they did so far. If they do have one, you might try to e-mail a few of it’s clients, just to find out if they are showing false information or just another company’s work.
3. How did the company work on it’s own website ? Is it valid, is it marketed enough (indexed pages, what IBL’s does it have and from what source, what’s the PR etc), does it have a correct and clean design etc.
4. Does the company practice e-mail (most of the times, you can just search for info about the company in Google) and/or search engine spam, commonly know as blackhat (you can search the company’s website or the clients websites for hidden test, backdoor pages, cloaking, etc.) ? Or do they provide ethical services (commonly known as whitehat) ?
5. How will the company work on your website ? Do they ask server and/or other info/passwords ? If yes, do a specific contract and mention all that in there. You can never know.
6. Guarantees. What does the company guarantee you as their client ? If it’s the traditional “We’ll get you in the top10 results in 2 weeks” you can just drop them from the start. They’re fake.

Now let’s have a more closer look at the company that spammed me (you can call it a case study). Let’s review the pointers I gave above, step by step:

Case study: Optimaloptimization.com

1. They have a contact section, an address, an e-mail (altough it’s funny that they are protecting themselves with an unindexable javascript e-mail link, when they’re the ones doing spam) and some telephones. But I could not find ANY company in the UK matching their company info. They might just be a phantom firm.
2. Off-course that they do not have any portfolio on their website. What they do have, are some irrelevant names (as testimonies, go figure) and randomly mentioned search results positions.
3. They are barely indexed in Google (index page without description and title, which will disappear soon, being a good indication of low or no inbound links). They are not indexed at all in Yahoo and MSN.

Optimaloptimization.com Yahoo search Optimaloptimization.com MSN search Optimaloptimization.com Google search

They have no PR, and no inbound links in any search engine (Google, Yahoo, MSN).

The design is so poor that in Firefox the meniu bar is not even readable:

Optimaloptimization.com Firefox design problem

The CSS validation has tons of warnings. The website is so simple that even a 12 year old kid could validate it. It’s even a HTML 4.01 website, not an XHTML one.

4. Company information. What can I say about that ? I just searched their URL in Google and Yahoo. Have a look. You’ll laugh:

… One particular moron who did this, Josie Ji of OptimalOptimization.com, actually had the gall to write, “Just so you …

… It’s from OptimalOptimization(.com), who are such a professional outfit they can’t even design a site that renders …

These are other’s experiences with this company. Remember what I said earlier ? Search for the company and find out more about it.

5. You would actually have to initiate a contact with the company to find out these aspects (mentioned above at point 5) and i certainly do not intend to do that.

6. Well, it’s on their title and front page and it’s exactly the kind of statement that you should keep your distance from :

Top 10 Rankings on Google, Yahoo, MSN

Don’t trust these type of statements. Your website could be banned any day, the search engine algorithms could change any day. It’s BS.

Now for some really other interesting and helpful resources about choosing your SEO company with care:

Useful resources

Google – What’s an SEO? Does Google recommend working with companies that offer to make my site Google-friendly?
Microsoft Small Business Canada – Choosing your SEO company
ISEDB – Top 5 questions to ask your SEO company
Webmasterworld – What to look for in a SEO company
Seo Consultants – Choosing a search engine optimization company
Seo PointSEO guarantees and questions you can ask, as a potential client (website in Romanian language)

Cheers.

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11 Comments so far

Bob Rankin said:
August 18th, 2006

My name is Bob Rankin and I am the volunteer County Web Manager for The Royal British Legion in North Staffordshire. In my full-time role I am an ethical organic SEO Consultant.
I have only just recently had a run in with this company in my Web Manager capacity and have been subsequently approached by a subsidary company of the Optimal Optimsation Group called Backbone Solutions.
A colleague of mine had the approach and she forwarded to me. I investigated Optimal Optimisation with similar results too your own and sent a reply suggesting they where spamming. Of course they denigned it saying in their haste that they could not find my email address even with it being on the footer of every page!.
I came back at them even harder as through my efforts our site has an excellent visibility rating on Google, MSN and Yahoo search engines of just over 99.69%!
I called their bluff and I suggested that if they could improve upon this I would be glad to hear from them.
I agree with all that you have said about choosing an SEO Company especially as I specialise in ethical organic seo methods, and have been in the Internet industry since 1994.

Regards
Bob Rankin

Miles said:
January 5th, 2007

Sorry to bump this post with a late comment but I thought I’d let every know that this company is now going by “JollyGoodResults.com” sending emails with the exact same text, being caught in honeypots, spamming forums and listservs everywhere. I’m including this here in the hopes that people searching out these guys will find out that OptimalOptimization.com now also operates under the JollyGoodLuck.com banner, since this post is the third result for a search on “optimaloptimization”. Maybe do a follow up posting because there’s a lot of dirt out there on these guys if you want to find it.

Ben said:
February 5th, 2007

Evening all.

I just found this after receiving an email from patricia@jollygoodresults.com, proporting to be from http://www.jollygoodresults.com, asking for a link to one of their clients (I am not going to post their link as it will only damage the client). I sent an email back to patricia@jollygoodresults.com to try to find out if http://www.jollygoodresults.com was real, and got a mail delivery failed message. So, took a look on Yahoo, and here we are.

If you have received one of these emails, make sure you have enough knowledge to be certain that you know what you are getting into.

February 6th, 2007

I’m glad you guys are amongst the few people on the web that are careful enough to notice such things.

learn seo said:
February 9th, 2007

Hi Guys,

Running a small seo business myself I find the overall problem with not only many SEO firms but the SEO industry in general is their unwillingness to help their clients understand how serach engine op works so they can make an informed decision.

It’s hard to peg this one down.

For some companies it’s certainly a matter of them not having enough experience or being shonky and for others I think it’s a matter of protecting their over inflated prices.

Either way, I think any SEO firm offering education no matter what package they offer will do well now but especially in the future as more competition comes online.

At the end of the day reputation and service is extremelly important when trying to win business… maybe even more so online.

Cheers, Chris.

Manfred said:
February 11th, 2007

Cristian et al;

I have a quasi-ethical question that I’d like your input on. I’ve gotten an email from these guys asking to link to a site that I represent. The site was relevant but I dismissed their request out of hand based on their SEO company’s spam approach (which I found out by searching for articles like this one).

My dilemma is this; from what I can tell having jollygoodresults/optimaloptimization as your SEO company is actually worse than not having one at all. I’ve been considering contacting the site they asked me to link to and letting them know how using JGR/OO could have an impact on their online reputation.

What do you guys think of this course of action?

Note: While I do SEO it is in a dedicated role for a large online company, I don’t “freelance” and would in no way benefit from this, nor am I trying to “steal” the customer (who is not even on the same continent as I am).

February 11th, 2007

Manfred, I would’ve rejected the email myself.

As for the second question, just think of this:

Pros: they can boost your serps.
Cons: they can ban you, penalize you, trick you, take money for incorrect performance, pur negative PR on the company (think of BMW Germany and their SPAM attempts, with cloaking)

You figure out the rest.

learn seo said:
March 1st, 2007

Just like to add, by the looks of these guys site it’s not overly impressive… not much info that’s for certain.

I am also never impressed when a site offering services doesn’t give some indication of prices. Maybe it’s just me being overly suspicious as I’ve been online so long.

Nearly got sone by an SEO company myself when first starting out online about 5 years ago… thank god for Visa is all I can say.

Cheers, Chris

Gavin Mullins said:
March 29th, 2007

i just sent them an email too, then i thought about it and done a search to see who they were…..and here i am…..

got a bouce back on the email…….lets see if anything happens

Miles said:
April 20th, 2007

Got another “sent by a person (me!)” email this time from an organization called “searchfish.net”. Admin contacts and phone numbers differ but its still in the same general area of Great Britain as the others. Searchfish.net is an “under construction”/parked domain which doesn’t impress terribly. This time it’s actually a really good link from a leader in one of our industries (who I’ve sent unanswered link requests to in the past), with good page rank, no URL/robots obfuscation, etc., so I think I’ll take it on. I’ll definitely keep an eye on them though.

I also found some listserv spam using the same template but the address was at “searchmedia.com”, which seems to be no longer a going concern (domain is parked and has changed hands recently). So this email template is either commonly distributed by some SEO startup kit (only 399.99!!!!) or this organization has underwent four name changes in less than two years.

Again I’m putting names here in the hopes that they’ll percolate when people search this stuff out and get some kind of warning. I’ll update here if anything goes screwy (for all of those 2 people reading).

July 24th, 2007

I thought I might add… talking of spam that is that it doesn’t matter how well you guard your email address, it still get’s into the wrong hands!.

I decided to set up an email that I haven’t placed anywhere online just for clients and I’m already starting to receive spam.

Unfortunately I’m going to also have to now run this one through spamarrest.

I wish a better answer could be found for this problem, that’s for certain.

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