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Beware of companies that will ''help'' your website to be more visible

I have written a book on how to get a website placed higher in search engine rankings, so I'm kind of tooting my own horn a bit right now, but you’ll have to put up with it because what I’m about to tell you is incredibly important.

It's about what you need to know when the phone rings and there's a seller on the other end talking about how they can help you be more visible in search engines. Some disturbing things have happened on the market that you have to know about and avoid getting involved in:

• One of the leading search engine positioning companies - Altus - have taken big risks with their customers. An auction house and a bank got stuck with hidden porn links on their websites by involving them in a so-called “link farm”.

• Internet World writes that another search engine positioning company – Jajja - got 500 of their customers thrown out from Google. The rumor was confirmed by Google's Nordic Manager Johan Kinnander. The reason was that they used deceptive practices. Jajja has also created problems for their customers by using blogs as a spam tool.

• More recently, it has also been known that search engine positioning companies have indulged blog-spamming ie. – blogs that have been loaded with pointless posts + links on blogs to get the customers' websites higher placed.

It's very dangerous for your business if you get your customers from these websites because this type of practice is prohibited and could lead to your website ultimately getting kicked out of the search engines.

But help is at hand:

So what should you keep in mind when you hire specific companies to help you climb up the search rankings? This is a good start: Never forget that the industry is new and the three main criteria for fraud are:

1. It's easy to add the mandatory 50 technical words that no one understands, but that sound very impressive when customers hear them.
2. It's hard to control how much work they put into your business.
3. Search engine positioning expert is for some an irresistibly delicious title.

Ask these questions before signing anything (Print the questions and be ready when they call):

1. Are they going to optimize your website with the search engines approved methods? Can you get it in writing?
2. What clients do they already have? Can you get to contact them? If not – bye, bye!
3. Are your pages automatically or manually registered? You want a technician to manually add your pages for each search engine, don't use the software that manages it.
4. Do they send you documents that verify what they did and when they did it?
5. Can you get documentation on what categories they made notification to when dealing with directory services?
6. Do they send you the confirmation that the registration for each search engine has gone through?
7. What can they promise? And what happens if they can't keep their promises?
8. And, most important of all - your gut feeling:
• How do the people you talk to sound? This is more important than what software they have and use. Do they feel creative enough to help you with developing your content, for example?
• Do you feel that they have knowledge and experience in the marketing field?
• Do they ask you good questions about your industry so that they understand it or does it feel like they go through the same set routines as with every company?
• Can they explain what they can do in a way that makes you understand clearly what exactly they are saying?
• Do they like to help their customers?

With this newly aquired knowledge on the table, the company you intend to hire will understand that you know what this is all about and treat you with respect (or you won't hear from them ever again because they think you are too annoying for asking things they don't want to answer!)

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
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