"Google no longer uses title tags" and other blatant untruths…

burglarI like to think I’m a fair person. I don’t believe in slagging off my competition, and always try to be even handed if someone asks for my advice on work done by someone else.

But every so often someone sends me something that makes my blood boil. Well yesterday I had 2 emails from 2 separate people, who I’d given some advice to on public forums.

I won’t name them here, but I will cover the downright lies they’ve been told, and the bad service they’ve received from their SEO consultants.

To clarify: SEO Consultant 1 is a web designer specialising in SEO & Social media, SEO Consultant 2 is a company using dubious telesales tactics and mentioned in several places elsewhere for ripping customers off.

SEO Consultant 1 told his client that:

  • Google no longer uses title tags
  • The META description isn’t important
  • Link exchange is the way to good listings
  • No-one searches for your search phrase anyway

This was blatantly to cover up the fact that he’d done no work on the site and achieved nothing.

Well, let’s put those lies to bed:

  • Google DOES use the title tag – in fact it’s one of the most important parts of onsite SEO. Granted, it’s not the be all and end all of SEO, but it is a major part, and without it, you may as well not bother. If every page of your website simply has your company name as it’s title tag, then you’re not going to be found for anything else. And don’t get me started on the dreaded “Home Page” title tag. The simple fact was, the SEO had done no title tag work and was claiming that they’re not used any more by Google in order to dupe his client. That’s wrong.
  • The META description IS important – it’s the description that Google shows when your site shows up in the results, and can be the difference between someone clicking on your listing or not. Of course, if you don’t have any listings anyway because your SEO hasn’t done the work they’re supposed to, then I guess the description tag doesn’t really matter after all…
  • Link exchange CAN be a good way to help your listings if everything else is in place, but the link exchange page that this client was given was a FFA (Free For All) links page where anyone could sign up and no checks were made. This meant that the site could be linking to unrelated sites, and there was no check in place to ensure that reciprocal links were given. I’m not a big fan of reciprocal links, and it’s been proven that one way links from well respected sites work far better to enhance your SEO, so although this cold be said to help, I think the client was misled.
  • “No-one searches for your search phrase anyway” – well, I’m sorry, but this makes me REALLY angry! In the first instance, why wasn’t proper keyword research done to find out whether the phrase chosen was a) suitable, b) achievable and c) worth optimising for in the first place. If hardly anyone is searching for it (which, as it happens, was a blatant lie – it’s one o the most competitive searches on the web), why on earth bother optimising for it in the first place?

The client involved had paid for a year’s SEO up front and from what I could tell, received very little. The site had 9 backlinks showing in Google, of which 6 were internal links from the site itself, there was no Webmaster Tools account, and in 5 months there had been no reporting, no help and advice, no status checks – nothing.

SEO Consultant 2 promised his client:

  • Full website optimisation
  • In 6 languages
  • Keyword research
  • Ongoing reporting

For just £295 up front and then £50 a month.

As the £50 was due to come out of his bank acount, the client asked what had been done so far. He was presented with a 3 page word document telling him what to change the title and META tags on 3 pages of his site to read. As he said to me:

It can’t have taken them more than 30 minutes to produce, and I could have done it myself!

So, far from the ‘full website optimisation’ of his 100+ pages, he got given (bad) advice on how to change 3 of his pages. No content advice. No Webmaster Tools account. No offsite optimisation advice. No page structure advice. Nothing. Just 3 badly formatted pages of a Word document that to be honest my 9 year old stepdaughter couldprobably have written better, and her first language is French!

No mention of the 6 languages optimisation he was promised (which is impossible anyway as the site was only in English), or keyword research.

When he queried this, he was told that he can’t have been promised what he was, and all calls are recorded. He asked to hear his recording and this was rapidly altered to ‘some calls are recorded’.

Now, I’m going to put the ‘you get what you pay for’ argument to one side – the guy involved feels a bit stupid, but he was promised a lot, and most of it was blatant lies.

Is it any wonder that this industry has such a bad rep?

I will hold my hands up and say i’m not perfect. I’m not the best SEO in the world (there’s always something to learn from someone). And do you know what, I’m scatty as hell! But because of that I’ve put systems in place that mean that every site we optimise goes through a number of checks, and a whole process from start to finish. Once a site is ‘finished’ it goes into another process line that makes sure that ongoing recommendations and reports are sent. I like to think we keep in touch with our clients, and that goes some way towards the many people who come to us because they’re been recommended to by current clients.

Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Everyone forgets, misplaces something, or has software / hardware issues that mean things don’t go quite to plan. But to blatantly lie to your clients, tell them things that are clearly untrue and provide them with substandard work? That’s scumbaggery of the highest standard.

When I speak with people like the two companies being ripped off above (and no, I didn’t pitch them for work) I feel ashamed to be in the industry I’m in.

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