There is nothing magical about SEO services. Good SEO “best practices” are based upon well-known techniques that have proven to work well and should improve your rank positions in Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines for targeted search phrases that are commonly used to search for your products or services.
When you allow someone to work on your web site, it is wise to know exactly what they are going to do to improve your rankings. Any legitimate SEO company will share that information. Forget about any SEO company that will not tell you what they are going to do because of “proprietary techniques.” There are no proprietary techniques with SEO, but there are good methods and there are bad methods. “Proprietary” can mean that they won’t tell you because they may engage in practices that are black hat SEO or they may not actually do anything. The former can jeopardize your rankings or may get your site removed (banned) from search engine listings. The latter is outright theft.
Know exactly what tasks will be performed and require documentation as proof that the task has been completed, such as lists of backlinks provided or a list of web pages that have been optimized. A large percentage of clients that come to us who have been paying for SEO services from someone else have no idea what the guy or gal has been doing to their site because no information or documentation of any kind has been provided. If the SEO company is not providing details or a monthly summary documenting the services provided, they probably are not doing anything. In some cases, we cannot find any evidence that any work has been done on the client’s site. In a few other cases, we found that sites were banned due to black hat techniques that violate search engine guidelines. In others, we found hidden links to other sites embedded throughout the site or hidden “doorway pages” that are known to result in penalties.
Keep in mind that no one can optimize a web site without access to the site so that elements on a page that search engine spiders look for can be altered. In the case of static pages, that means FTP access so that scripts can be changed. With content management systems, such WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and others, the person usually only needs access to the administration area in the software. If someone says that they will optimize your site, but does not ask for access, they will not be doing anything to the site.
A link builder never needs access to a web site. Link building is done from other sites, and not from your site. We ran into one situation where a link builder who was given access to a Christian dating site hid dozens of link pages within the site that contained links to porn and casino web sites. These unrelated links can and typically do result in a penalty for the site. Once again, the site owner was not aware of what the link builder was doing. A link builder should provide a list of web page URLs where links to your site have been inserted.
When we provide SEO services, you will receive a monthly report summarizing what we did, or you will receive an e-mail documenting when we complete specific tasks. This should be expected with all types of SEO services from any company that you work with. Documentation keeps you informed and assures that you are receiving the services that you pay for.