Back in 2010, I held an Internet Marketing conference here in Saint Louis.  The keynote speaker was Barry Schwartz, the most well known SEO blogger around.  Barry had a great presentation, and then took time to answer many questions from the attendees.  It was a super way to start off the conference, and everyone loved his session.

During the session, someone asked Barry about other companies outranking their own for their company name.  Now known as Negative SEO, ranking for phrases that normally wouldn’t apply to your strategy has become a big problem for many businesses.  Barry showed us an example of an SEO company that was not happy with the way Jennifer Convertibles handled their account.

Jennifer Convertibles Sucks

So what happened?  Did Jennifer Convertibles piss off an SEO agency?  Did some scum of the earth SEO take a gig from a competitor of JC to build this site?  I don’t know, but it’s not cool in my mind.

A few months ago I was hired on to help a local company with their SEO efforts.  They were frustrated with their (then current) SEO guy and wanted a fresh and renewed approach to their online strategy.  As with changing web designers, this can be a treacherous journey, because making a not-so-above-the-board SEO mad or upset needs to be avoided if possible.

My new client was pretty excited about moving up in the rankings.  However, shortly after hiring me, the Penguin Update was released, and their rankings tumbled.  My phone was obviously ringing off the hook, as the owners wanted to know what happened.  Turns out, the previous SEO had done a lot of things that were penalized by Penguin.

Once again, Ouch!

As a business owner, you have no choice but to put your faith and trust into an SEO agency once you hire them.  You assume they’re going to do only the best for you, when they could actually be hurting you.

And how do you know if they’re doing things right or not?  How do you know if they’re pulling the wool over your eyes?

As the great Sy Syms said, An educated consumer is our best customer.  Business owners need to be educated in the basics of SEO.  They should know the differenct between PPC, SEO and local/map rankings.  They should log in and understand their analytics.  Looking at pretty graphs isn’t enough.

Find an SEO meetup.  Find a reputable small business meetup and ask other business owners about their successes.  Watch webinars and educate yourself.  Read posts on finding a great SEO.

Business owners have to find out what they don’t know or they’re going to lose thousands of dollars from some idiot SEO “agency”.  Don’t let that be you.

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