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Friday, February 03, 2006

Cold-Callin' SEO Firms

Every once in awhile, we ask our friend Jill Whalen - who publishes the High Rankings Advisor newsletter - if we can republish some particularly timely advice. Well, this isn't timely so much as timeless, but there's a bonus topic in this Q&A. Read on. Also, Jill's given carte blanche for me to add a couple of editorial comments below.

--
Jill,

Thanks for the invitation to say hi with a question. I heard about you
via Google search.

My interest was prompted by a call I received from an SEO firm. My site
has been up 8 months with little success in rankings improvement. So the
call was timely. Yet, I am a newbie, so I am curious as to whether an SEO
can do as they suggest -- get top-10 placement on major search engines?

Can you give me a short list of companies who you feel deliver results
through improvement in rankings and are trustworthy?

I look forward to your newsletter. Thanks!

David

++Jill's Response++

Hi David,

You'll actually want to wait a few more months before making any
decisions on hiring an SEO firm. This is because Google has an "aging delay" that
generally lasts at least 9 months all the way up to 1 year or more, and
your site is only 8 months old. This means that no matter what you do, you
will find it very difficult to show up in Google for pretty much any keyword
phrase other than some weird obscure ones.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if savvy SEO companies are looking for
sites such as yours that are just about to "pop" from the aging delay,
so that it looks like they are geniuses when you suddenly start to get
high rankings. [Editor's note: Genius comment, Jill. You know that's probably
exactly what they're doing. When will SEO firms be more realistic about the
causality of their own efforts, and be willing to share credit with their clients?]

The thing is, when it happens you probably would have received
those rankings by doing absolutely nothing but waiting.

Regarding SEO firms, being as I am the owner of an SEO firm (or two!)
myself, I tend to stay away from recommending or bad-mouthing other
firms.

Unfortunately, about 80% or more of SEO firms out there are not what I
would consider to be up to standards, so please do be careful if you decide
to outsource this. It's easy to talk a good game in this biz, but much
harder to actually do a good job. (See my previous answer in this newsletter
for additional advice on choosing a firm.)

Please read the articles at my site, plus read the past newsletters and
start hanging out in the forum. Get a feel for what good SEO is. If
you have more time than money, try implementing some of what you learn, a
little at a time, and see what happens. If you have more money than time,
then at least you'll be more knowledgeable if you decide to outsource to an SEO
firm.

Hope this helps!

Best,

Jill
[More editorial notes: 1. It may "seem" serendipitous and timely when someone cold calls you -- but it's still a cold call. Remember the old adage about sitting around the card table? If you don't know who the patsy is, it's probably you? Don't select vendors from cold calls, OK? 2. There's a lively debate on the Google Sandbox at Search Engine Watch Forums.]

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