Keep SEO Companies From Cheating You – Part 2
Here is a feature article from Nick Bokhonok who has been creating web projects, Internet marketing and SEO tools since 2000. His expertise is helping people generate good quality backlinks to their site…which is an absolute requirement for getting top search engine rankings in competitive phrases.
In December 2008 Nick released Free Traffic System – free community where bloggers can build backlinks, get free content and push their sites to top pages in search engines. Because of the value provided, this community has grown to over 10,000 members in this short period!
This is Part 2 of the publication which was started here. We are explaining how to make sure that SEO companies do not cheat you and do exactly what you pay them for. In the first part of this publication we explained how exactly SEO companies can cheat you on keyword research. Now the time is to talk about other types of SEO services. In an upcoming 3rd part we’ll talk about the off-page part of optimization (link building).
I will mention here that I want to make sure you don’t understand the prices Nick mentions below. The big keys to SEO come not as much in the on-page optimization, but also in the off-page and the link building (which can be very time consuming). You’ll also notice he doesn’t list a price at all for “writing” of the page itself. This is where the most involvement is on the page.
I agree with Nick completely on the fact that it’s quick to do all the meta tags. If you’re being charged high fees for those elements, you’re being cheated. Plain and simple. And if those factors are ALL an SEO company does for you, they’re missing it BIG TIME.
Onpage optimization (also known as onsite optimization) is about making your web page fit specific standards that are encouraged by Google and other search engines. We will not go into all details of these standards. In a nutshell, they are simple – your page must be “readable” to the search engine bots, in nice simple code.
This is like feeding birds in the park: if you give them crumbs – they eat them with pleasure, but if you throw them bread that is wrapped up in paper and double wrapped up in something else – poor birds will go crazy trying to get to the food.
The same with search engines, if you build your site with the help of site constructors (also known as Content Management Systems or CMS) which wrap up your text into huge piles of clumsy programming code – then search engine bots will have big troubles trying to “read” and index your text.
That is why before we go to the nuances of onpage optimization, I would recommend you to ask your SEO companies what site engine/site constructor/content management system they are going to build your site. And – by the way – if the choice of site engine is in your hands from the very beginning, then make a wise choice so that your text is readable and the CMS has at least basic SEO features included.
My personal choice over the last years is WordPress. And Terry’s blog which you are reading right now is also built on WordPress. It does not mean that this is the only site engine that is OK for SEO, but more and more people choose WordPress today, because lots of SEO tools are automatically inserted into this site engine.
The Maximum Onpage SEO Package
For you to understand how not to get cheated on the onpage optimization with your site, it would be very helpful to have the list of “maximum onpage SEO package” – in other words to know what exactly can be done as part of onpage SEO on your site.
Here are a few elements we’re going to cover:
- meta title of page
- meta description of page
- meta keywords of page
- URL of the page
- text of the page (the body of the text – what you actually see when you read a page)
It is also important to know that parts of the text of the page – like headlines, subheadlines – are also wrapped into special codes. These codes give “hints” to the search engine robots “this is a headline in my text, it is important” or “this is a subheadline, it is also quite important” etc. This is done with the help of html code like H1, H2. You do not need to know these codes, but your SEO company should be using these tags when they build your page.
NOTE: Depending upon the site engine there might be additional elements for onpage optimization. For example, WordPress has tags and these tags can be very helpful in generating more traffic.
Make Sure to Use *Golden* Keywords in Onpage SEO!!
This is very important. Usually onpage SEO is done to make your page or site look more “adequate” for a specific keyword. That is why if you have one or several *golden* keywords researched for your niche (read more about *golden* keywords in Part 1 of this publication), then it is absolutely vital that you have at least one page optimized for the *golden* keyword.
In simple words it means that this *golden* keyword must be used throughout the page: in the URL of the page, in meta title and description, in the text itself, etc.
Surely do not overdo the optimization, it does not mean that every sentence of your text should have the *golden* keyword inside. Mentioning it 1-3 times in the text is fine.
But it is vital to use the *golden* keywords in onpage SEO, because you pay money to get these keywords found, and surely you need to capitalize on them.
Prices and Cheating
The typical catch that SEO services use is to sell you a less valuable job as a more valuable job. As there are no fixed standards on the market, you cannot appeal to any prices.
I would try to help you with the following. I will explain what exactly each job from the “maximum onpage SEO package” is about. And then you – with the help of the common sense – will be able to pre-estimate what price is ok for it and what is too much.
You will also see that the prices are quoted on a “per page” basis. It is done so, because each of the pages of your site needs special care. Surely today there are solutions that can clone one and the same meta title, description and other elements to all pages of your site. But this is not very good for the SEO, because search engines will see that all your pages have the same info, and it can look unnatural.
That is why it is really better if all pages of your site look a little different when it comes down the texts of meta title, meta description and the texts on the page. If you cannot afford it, then at least make sure that onpage SEO of the 2-3 pages on which you are focusing your attention do not get “cloned” on all other pages of your site – these 2-3 pages must have unique, hand-made onpage customization.
(*) meta title of the page
Meta title is the text that you see at the top of the browser, like shown on the screenshot
Meta title is very important for SEO, because it is not only shown in the browser, but also part of the meta title is shown in the search engine results, like this:
As you can see, meta title is not something that is seen only at the top of the browser window (where hardly any human being will focus attention on), but also in the search engine results. And this is important, because a meta title that is not attractive, a meta title that is not intriguing enough to make the surfer click the page is a waste of effort.
So, the work about meta title is a combination of SEO (putting your keywords into it) and copywriting (making your title appeal to the potential readers).
Price: $5 per one page – I think this is quite a fair price, but you can try to negotiate a discount if you order many pages and, perhaps, can even drop in to $4/page on big amount of pages.
(*) meta description of the page
You cannot see meta description anywhere in the page (only in the HTML code of the page), but description is visible on the search engine results. I am showing it here:
As you can see, meta description is also important not only for SEO, but also for attracting the attention of the potential readers, because a big portion of meta description is shown in the results of the search engine.
This means a nicely written intriguing description can help you to attract more readers. So, in an ideal version this is also a combination of SEO and copywriting.
Price: $5-10 per one page – as description is longer than meta title, you can hear the argument about increasing the price for it. And this is logical. But I assume that this is NOT SO MUCH text to be added; instead of one sentence like you have with meta title, this is about 2-3 sentences in the meta description. Plus, if you order a nice package, I am sure that you can negotiate the meta title + meta description to be done for $7 per page on nice volumes.
(*) meta keywords of the page
The importance of meta keywords for SEO is disputable, and you can hear that meta keywords are not really that important as they used to be years ago.
My personal experience shows this is true – meta keywords are getting less and less SEO value. But if you get them negotiated as a bonus to your onpage package – why not?
Price: my personal opinion is that this particular item of onpage optimization that needs to be fought for. If you want to get it as a nice bonus to your package and your SEO company is not against it, great. If they try to get some extra money for this very service, then I do not think it makes any sense to pay any additional more for it.
(*) URL of the page
With URLs it is very simple – it is great for SEO if your *golden* keywords are used in the URL of this page.
Search engine bots “read” the URL as well, and if you have a *golden* keyword mentioned in the URL – it can be an additional SEO boost that will help you to get a better position in search engine results for this very keyword.
NOTE: there is one technical nuance – not all site engines allow to put any keyword you want into the URL of a specific page. And this is a SEO disadvantage if you cannot do that. So, my recommendation to you – when you are choosing the content management system for your site – to make sure that your site constructor allows putting the keywords into the URL (like WordPress).
Price: this job is pretty simple; basically it is just about putting the keyword in the URL and making it more or less readable, that is why I do not think that it is worth any additional money. It is much better if you can negotiate it to be as part of meta title and meta description pack – and all this can be done for up to $10 per page, especially if you hire them to do that for a nice number of pages.
(*) text of the page
This is the biggest textual part and that is why it has lots of variations.
First of all, you need to find out if YOU or the SEO service is going to create the text for this page. It is very important, because this can be the most expensive part of the onpage optimization.
If SEO service is writing the text for you, then the best type of text you can get is a unique text. Surely this unique text costs a lot. For example, one piece of unique text of 450 words can cost you starting from $15 to more – it all depends upon the niche and how many pages you are ordering. And if this is done by a professional copywriter, then of course the price will be much higher (but so would the results once visitors get to the page).
There is one typical catch that can be used about unique text, SEO services can try to sell you rewritten text as unique. There is nothing bad about rewritten text, but the price for it is not as high as for the unique text. That is why if you decided to buy unique text, make sure to use services like copyscape.com for checking the uniqueness of the text. There for 5 cents (in their paid membership) you can check the uniqueness of any text and be sure that you get what you paid for.
But, once again, unique text is not obligatory. If you cannot afford to pay for it or to write it yourself, hire SEO service to rewrite the text. There are lots of PLR (private label rights) packages with articles that allow to have been rewritten, without any legal problems, and SEO services typically have lots of these PLR packages available. One rewritten article (400-450 words inside) should cost around $10 – this is quite a fair price.
Also ask SEO service if they will put H1, H2 and other HTML mark up code in the text on your pages. This job is not obligatory and even without it your text (provided it has at least one *golden* keyword inside) is already helping you. Still, if a SEO service can do that marking of the text with proper codes – this can be an extra SEO boost to the quality of your text in the eyes of search engines. I do not think that this job can cost more than $5 per page, because usually it is about just putting a code here, a code there, and it can take 2 minutes.
Price: I am not giving any exact prices here, because you see that the choice is huge here – articles can be unique or rewritten or given by you; the HTML marking of the text can be done, but not necessarily. Too many options. But I gave you hints about how much each of the jobs can cost.
For more details about offpage optimization (link building) and how to keep SEO services from cheating you on this part of SEO – wait for the upcoming Part 3 of this publication and stay tuned to Terry Dean’s blog.Related Entries:
- Keep SEO Companies From Cheating You – Part 1
- Using Long Tail Keywords for Profit
- 5 Cool Internet Marketing Resources
- What Is a Landing Page?
- Laser Focused Marketing Approach