Ok so the title is a little harsh but I do think it sums up my thoughts about the SEO industry as a whole.
First off though, I would like to say that SEO has its place in the web industry. Not only is it useful, but its a must for any website to atleast be aware of what SEO is all about.
As SEO stands, I see paying a third party to take out this service is a risk. How do you identify who employs good and bad practice? Its more than feasible that top results for SEO services may have been acquired through bad practice. May not seem that important now – could argue that you may get the results you want. But will these results last if they are built on bad foundations.
But, What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO as its most commonly known, is the practice of modifying and promoting a website to improve its ranking and position in search results. Simple really, but theres alot of bad practice to ‘cheat’ high results – which may end up being removed from search engines entirely in the most serious cases.
All web pages need to be assigned a rank/value to determine the quality of the page to compare against queries to sort whats most relevant.
Only relevant pages are returned, so including text and information that you want to be found increases the hit rate.
Bad SEO Practice
Bad SEO is pretty important and where my biggest hatred for the SEO industry as a whole. They take your money (can be tens of thousands) and employ ethically bad methods.
Each one of these bad practices is based on legitimate algorithm decisions which makes it hard for search engines to identify whats good and bad, but importantly when it determines bad precise, penalties will apply.
Most common bad practice is the link farm. Link farms force backlinks and trys to associate a keyword or phrase to boost this as a relevant result for the page.
If you are looking for SEO, work with your Web Designer/Programmer or whoever manages the website itself to ensure basic SEO elements are implemented (eg Meta Tags, Short & Descriptive page titles, Alt text on links and images and most importantly GOOD CONTENT). If you happen to have someone helping with marketing, get them to help with the approach and consider SEM (Search Engine Marketing) over paid SEO services, and no just buying AdWords doesn’t really count.
Don’t forget, SEO is not the only thing that creates a successful website/business. Theres branding, products and service that all come into one. A great website does not make a crappy product successful.