By Rishi | February 3, 2010
You thought only Small Businesses got scammed by SEO Snakeoil Salesmen? These days every Tom Dick and Harriet wants to offer SEO services, and the worst offenders I have seen are Web Design agencies in the Big Brand Design world. I have witnessed some seriously daft mistakes and issues that make me wonder how stupid some people are. Simply adding a member of staff who knows “about” SEO does NOT qualify you to take on SEO for your existing clients.
I consult for a few big brand names on occasion, in order to get their SEO strategy in place – they normally have an SEO agency, or are looking to recruit one (I don’t provide ongoing SEO services, I only work as a strategist / consultant / creative concept person). More often than not, in cases when i am called in, the issue is because the SEO agency is a small department of one (or two) in a large Digital Marketing company.
Below are 5 REAL LIFE mistakes I have seen that big web design agencies offering SEO have made:
Sure Fire magic – SEO Pages!
Incredibly, I inherited a project which revealed that the client was advised the only way to rank was by creating “SEO” pages. The agency built the pages with the directory structure: www.domainname.com/articles/content/sitemap/seopages/bullshitkeywordrich.html
Seriously? Even if I was an idiot I would know not to give that big a spam signal. I might as well submit a spam report for my own fucking site.
We have an amazing Solution for more content!
In short, the web agency tried to sell an option which would allow the client to use the site search function to auto generate “Long Tail Content”. Now that isn’t the kind of stuff a brand needs to get in. It’s borderline blackhat and horrendous for usability. Brands need to try and stay clean, and a real SEO can get them ranking with a little hard work, not spam techniques from 1999.
Flash is SO Pretty!
One build I had the misfortune to learn about was a site wide navigation that was completely locked in flash. The resolution? Add links in the footer to the core pages for search engines. This was a facepalm situation and I nearly murdered someone… For fucks sake people.
OK Honest Mistake but…
Project came to me informally for advice, new redesign killed their organic traffic, but web agency who built the new “search friendly design” went live with the robots instruction:
<meta name=’robots’ content=’noindex,nofollow’ /> (this link is another example that Joost uncovered and NOT the one that I am referring to – By the way, if you use Fantastico to install WordPress, I would check your privacy settings, some hosts seem to have set it as automatic NOT to allow indexing.)
Press Releases Means Links
Yes. Absolutely. PR is a great way to get the brand association with target keywords. Get on that band wagon and start shelling them out like two rabid rabbits on heat. But for fucks sake stop outsourcing to idiots, or at least check your shit first. The web agency in question sent out PR articles with PPC tracking parameters. Apparently the outsourced writers googled the brands name to get the website URL, clicked on a PPC ad and simply copy pasted that URL.
Yeah, THOSE links will count. Fuckwits.
Enough, or do you want More?
Some Big Name SEO agencies sometimes aren’t far behind from being stupid:
We Haz Links!
Don’t try and sell me your #1 potential for “keyword x” guaranteed. You may be a big agency, but everyone knows that you own a link farm. It may be working for the moment, but I am NOT interested in getting my client penalised for a black hat tactic. This agency has contacted a number of my clients. Go. The. Fuck. Away.
Your SEO Agency is Crap!
Cold contacting me with negative PR about current SEO agency not only makes me want to out you, but makes you lose major credit points. I don’t want to work with people like that. At least two SEO companies called up the brand I was consulting for after some negative (and incorrect) press went out in the media about their current SEO agency. For fucks sake. You give Judas a bad name.
Seriously peeps, think about what you are doing and offering. If your strengths as an agency aren’t in SEO (i.e you don’t have someone who has ninja skills) then forget offering it. Seriously. That way I wont have to come and clean up your mess and actually do stuff that I enjoy.
Photo Credit: Opacity