I have recently been in touch with an SEO specialist who has recently started targeting the profession and claims that many firms using SEO services are essentially being tricked into paying for almost nothing (and in one case he showed me, precisely nothing was being done for a four-figure monthly charge).
He's really cross about what he sees as rip-off artists giving firms like his a bad name, especially the false claims he says many make about how SEO works and what is does.
So far, interesting, but perhaps sour grapes???
One of the more interesting points he made was that firms paying for SEO should ignore the data they are given except for those that really mean something - the phone calls coming in, converted inquiries from site and so on...not 'page views' and that sort of stuff that the companies show them.
He also claimed that some services being sold have an inhibiting effect on a firm's search position rather than one which enhances it.
Another was how easy it is to convince firms they are on page 1 of Google, when they won't be if searched from elsewhere.
All pretty depressing stuff. The big problem of course, is do firms have the expertise to make an informed decision about this buying decision and if not, how do they know they aren't being taken for a ride?
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