SF Bay Area SEO Company Choices – Read it or Weep!

Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!

We spend the majority of our time around here looking at our clients’ rankings and seeing what we can do to improve them. But, just for fun, we check out our own sometimes. Our firm, Solas Web Design, ranks at the top of Google for SEO, Web Design and Graphic Design in Sonoma County (in various keyword permutations of those phrases). Sonoma County is located about 60 miles north of San Francisco, which puts us in the northern end of the SF Bay Area. We’ve never tried to rank for our services in conjunction with the term SF Bay Area, but I thought it would be fun to see who is ranking. The results of my research have been far from fun. Rather, I’m feeling distressed by what I see being sold as SEO services to my neighbors, and I’m writing this post to attempt to counteract the misinformation being put out by the current choice of SEO service providers in the SF Bay Area. We’re in for a bumpy ride here, but we’ll come out the wiser at journey’s end.

What I’m seeing top ranking SF Bay Area SEO companies saying

Example #1)
Our first scary SEO encounter is with a company at jigsawinc.com. Let’s get right down to the bad part here. This company claims to offer:

Meta Tab editing

keyword placement

search engine submission

content optimizing

Yes, you read that right. Meta Tab editing. What in the blue blazes is a Meta Tab??? Okay, you know (and I know) that they must mean Meta Tag…but why don’t they know that? I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt that this is a typo, but when I realized they were calling meta tags this throughout the copy of their website, I stopped handing out benefits. The additional service of Keyword Placement makes me feel doubly concerned. What does this even mean? Placing keywords on my pages? Ranking me for keywords? Sounds fishy. Search engine submission comes next…uh-oh. No one who has been in the SEO industry for even a few months fails to learn that you aren’t supposed to submit your website to search engines. Search engines are supposed to come looking for you and then index your pages and rank them as they see fit in terms of the perceived relevance of the page to the user query. So, submitting to search engines is not something anyone should be paying for. And finally, content optimizing. Yah, yah, it’s important to be able to write SEO-savvy content, but the best content writers know that the real art is in writing compelling copy for humans. And, frankly, taking this company’s other ‘services’ into consideration, why do I feel you’d end up with a page that reads like this:

We sell red shirts for red shirt fans who like to wear a shirt that is red because red is a good color for a shirt.

The copy of the these folks’ website is in bad repair, full of grammatical errors and what I’m guessing are typos. This is not a good advertisement for their brand of services, but I’m not really too worried about that. What I AM worried about is what may be happening to any small business owner that pays these folks for their meta tab/submission/keyword placements services. They are getting burned.

Example #2
C313.com is our second candidate for SEO proficiency. This company may be good at some of what they do, but their website hit me the wrong way from the get-go. Their navigation is practically written in invisible text, and I don’t care how good the SEO work is on a site; if users can’t navigate it, there will be zero conversions. Usability and SEO go hand in hand, in our opinion. One without the other is pointless. Moving along here, let’s look at their SEO services. I’m sad to report that, yet again, I’m seeing the following:

• Direct submissions to the top search engines & directories using cutting-edge techniques.

• Direct submission to Google.

• Affiliate and affinity linking to boost site traffic, increase brand awareness, and get better rankings.

I’ve covered why these top two bullet points are marks of a bad SEO company. Let’s look carefully at the third one, here. Affiliate linking? My take on this is that they may be running some type of internal link farm amongst their clients. It won’t boost rankings, and it can result in penalties or banning of your website. So, let’s pass on that service!

I’ll skip over alchemistmedia.com here as they look like they might just know what they are doing and I see NO mention of submitting anything to anywhere, praise be!

#3) Google has blown me away with their high ranking of the next site: searchengine-websitetuning.com

Here is what they offer:

landing pages
link building campaign
Link partners
simmilar area content wise, reputation,
affiliate programs
get word out for site, link popularity down, value dilluted
If both organic and paid = bouble barrel visibility = credibility
managing keywords:
Zar of official terms vs list per department

Can anyone tell me what this means??? I sincerely hope no one is actually paying for it, whatever it is.

4) Handsubmit.com may just be your favorite here (I know it’s mine!). Here’s their philosophy:

Optimization simply means that we find a niche where you can rank well and attract clients. This is accomplished by tweaking your metatags and your submit page content. This is a subtle art but one based on detailed research. There’s much more to it than relying upon common sense or just copying the metatags of a well ranking site.

The classic combination of submitting to search engines AND tweaking meta tags is so beautifully summed up by the above, I can hardly think of anything to add to it. Again, I am floored by this being a top offering for SEO services when I run a Google search.

*Just as a refresher…meta tags have nothing to do with search engine rankings. Nothing whatever.

I was really glad to see Jill Whalen’s Firm, High Rankings, show up in the midst of all of the above hooey. So, at least Google is giving their users SOME chance at hitting upon a legitimate SEO provider, but the math seems pretty grim to me here.

SEO companies like the above give the industry a really awful name, and I sincerely hope that this post will serve as a kind of a warning, culled from an hour’s browsing of the SERPs. To date, most of our clients have been out-of-state, but what I’m seeing out there is making me yearn to rank well for SEO in the Bay Area. I think we may just have to do something about this…

A final note
If you’ve come to this post doing a search for a Bay Area SEO provider, please, take a moment to read some of the articles on our website. We are truly dedicated to small business owner education and it’s foolishness like the above that has caused us to spend the time writing articles like the following:

The Simple SEO Guide for the Small Web Business

Custom Web Design – How it works

Craving Custom? Craft Creative, Comprehensive Content!

Google Local Business Listing – Got One?

4 Responses to “SF Bay Area SEO Company Choices – Read it or Weep!”

  1. on 26 Jun 2007 at 2:14 pm lori

    Wow, it’s amazing what passes for SEO services these days!

    On a kind of unrelated note, do you find it helpful that your firm ranks for geographic terms, when you’re not actually bound by geography?

    Obviously, if I were searching for furniture, I’d look for a store in my area. But for web design or SEO, I wouldn’t look for a Chicago firm necessarily.

    I guess I’m asking if you think it’s worth my time to market my products as being from Chicagoland? I think of my company as global =)

  2. on 26 Jun 2007 at 2:46 pm admin

    Hi Lori,
    Yes, what you say is quite true. One of the key benefits of the web is its global reach. So, certainly, most businesses should cater to global (or at least national) customers, if it’s appropriate to their business model.

    On the other hand, ranking for local is also a big help for anyone who wants to work with a local company. Additionally, it is usually much simpler to get local rankings than global ones due to a smaller sphere of competition.

    So, we have a couple of pages on our website geared specifically to our county, and do get business this way. It might be helpful for your site to include a page or two that is geared toward Chicagoland Montessori materials or some similar thing.

    It really depends on the type of business. Obviously, some companies provide ONLY local services (like landscapers, dentists, etc.) Most of our clients are out-of-state, but why not take advantage of local searches as well? It can’t hurt!

    Good question!
    Miriam

  3. on 30 Jun 2007 at 1:12 am tinkerbellchime

    Miriam–I’m glad you pointed this out. I feel sorry for people who pay money for this kind of bunk. It is such a rip off. I bet they didn’t get their high rankings with meta tags. So sad. I hope you and your husband go after the SF market and set things straight. It just isn’t right that this kind of misinformation continues.

  4. on 30 Jun 2007 at 2:16 pm admin

    Thanks, Tinkerbell!
    It really is a problem. One of the most uncomfortable results, for us, of this kind of misinformation is that we then have potential clients who approach us who have read this stuff. They don’t know what to think, having read things like the above, when they hear us saying,
    “No, no..that’s not important. Keyword density? No that’s not important either. No, please don’t worry about Page Rank. No, no, we can’t put 97 words in your meta keywords tag. No. No. No.”

    At the point where a client is still a stranger, they have no more reason to believe us than they would anyone else, and because the bad information is so rampant, our disagreement with it can cause the client to feel like we must not know what we are talking about. This can be tough, and I’ve gotten to the point a couple of times where I’ve just had to say,

    “You’ve got to feel confident in what I’M saying if this relationship will work..not what you’ve read someplace else.”

    It’s a challenge!

    Thanks so much for your comments. I just checked rankings yesterday and see that this post is now ranking at #3 in Google for SF Bay Area SEO Company…so, hopefully searchers may find us and read it before making a costly mistake.

    Always nice to have you drop by!
    Miriam

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