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How to cut through the SEO, marketing BS

Marketing seoI recently met a nice young man who went full sales pitch on me within five seconds of shaking my hand about how he could help improve my SEO.

Resisting the urge to say, Um, you know, I run a marketing agency, kinda know this stuff already, I played dumb, which some of you who know me and are reading along say, play dumb?

Anyway. See, I wanted to hear his pitch.

It didn’t take long for me to figure that he didn’t have a great handle on search engine optimization, but he sure knew the buzz words, at least one of them.

Cross links, he said. It’s all about cross links these days.

(Or as “Fletch” would say, ball bearings. It’s all about ball bearings these days.)

From what I could gather, hearing what became his dissertation on the topic, this guy is a master of the cross link, the image conjured in my mind of him getting tapped on the shoulder with a sword as part of some sort of formal blessing ceremony, he was, you know, so knowledgeable.

I didn’t get to press him on what his strategy is for building cross links, because our new friend then went on to tell me that he couldn’t afford to take on new clients for less than $5,000 because he couldn’t afford to pay his team even at that rate, because as we all know, if you’ve got a big team, you’re a big player, even if your office is located in an unincorporated town in Augusta County.

I took it all in, duly impressed, asked for his card, then opened up the laptop to run a quick diagnostic of the company’s web profile.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the domain name was registered in April, that the site’s domain authority and page authority, according to Moz, is 1/100, that the company has 100 likes on Facebook, two followers on Twitter and has sent out exactly one tweet.

But I have to give the guy credit. Looking at his list of clients, well, he has clients, which is an indication of his sales chops.

How this works is, the average small business owner, the average person, in general, doesn’t know what they don’t know about marketing, so when they meet somebody who sounds like he does know, OK, then, how much does it cost for you to take care of this for me?

The best advice I can give is the same advice I’d give to you across the board when it comes to running your business: value your dollars.

You don’t sign a lease on a location without dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. You’re not committing to a manufacturer for your new product line without asking for and checking references.

Before you engage a company in website design and marketing, then, avail yourself of some baseline knowledge in terms of numbers.

I mentioned Moz above. We used to look at Google PageRank, but Google isn’t updating its PageRank anymore. Moz is an excellent new-age PageRank, with rating scales of domain and page authority on the 100-point scale.

What you need to know: the higher the number on each, generally, the better, so, no, 1/100 is not a good number for a company claiming to be expert in SEO service delivery.

Look at the social media profiles for the company. I’m bragging here, but my company has more than 100,000 likes on Facebook. Results will vary, which is to say, the company you decide to engage doesn’t have to have 100,000, but if it has 100, if they’ve tweeted once, it’s hard to imagine that this lack of activity is going to translate well for you.

Oh, and here’s a quick and easy one: type WHO IS into Google, follow the link to do an I CANN WHO IS domain name search, type in the domain name for the company, and look for the created date.

Is it necessarily disqualifying that a company was created three months ago? No, but at least you know, right?

Basically, you need to ask yourself the question, does this company look the part? And I don’t mean, does the guy making the sales pitch dress nice and talk in jargon that goes over my head, because that can be part of the shtick.

A company that claims to be able to improve your visibility on Google should have numbers on its own website and social media profiles that demonstrate that it can practice what it preaches.

If they don’t, and you’ve got money burning a hole in your pocket, why not give me a call? I’ve got a great deal on this bridge in Brooklyn that you might be interested in.

Seriously, if it sounds like BS, it’s probably BS.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m not giving details on the salesman or his company here not to be mean, but to avoid giving them what I have to presume would be their very first cross link.

Chris Graham is the editor of Augusta Free Press. AFP Facebook likes: 106,649. Personal Twitter followers: 2,080. LinkedIn connections: 2.006. Domain name registered: July 2002. Been here, will be here, basically.

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