Unsolicited SEO Offers to improve your website ranking -my in-box is full of them. I get about a dozen offers a week to improve this site by a professional SEO company. Some weeks I even reach two dozen offers. Should I be tempted? Would it add any benefit to my site? Should YOU accept such unsolicited SEO proposals?

The funny thing is, I do offer SEO services myself – multinational SEO, to be exact. SEO translation, to be extremely precise. I have however not even seriously tried to promote my blog. Yes, in some forums I include this site as my signature, and I also comment in some blogs providing this site as a link. But most of it is no-follow, so little link juice can be expected. SEO for this site is based mainly on content, content, content and a few SEO plug-ins for my WordPress site. Does it increase in the SERPS? Yes. Does it increase its page rank? Yes. Does it score well for the keywords that I intend to target? Quite well, thank you. Could it score much better it I did some serious promotion? No doubt. So why do I not do it?

The main problem is that I have no time. I already have more work than I can handle. I am not a big SEO company, just one single person (and not interested in hiring staff and running a company). So why should I attract more visitors? More clients? I write for FUN! A nice side benefit is that I get customers that are impressed with what I write, customers that recognize quality when they see it and are willing to pay me what I ask for after waiting until I have finished with a previous customer. But perhaps I should still invest in additional SEO? Perhaps should you?

Now, your site may not be written for fun. You make a living about of it – most of my customers do. SEO is important, not just so as to get on the top of the SERPS, but also to attract traffic, to get customers that buy your products and services. Probably you NEED that traffic. OK, I have more work than I can handle. But that may not necessarily be your case. So if somebody writes to you offering you SEO services, should YOU accept them?

I have made some small statistics of the last 38 mails that I have received offering me SEO services (38 because that’s what I had in my mail trash or spam box). Now, most of the sites were quite nice, very attractive and professional looking. But, amazingly, I did not find any of the sites in the top SERPS for major SEO keywords.  As I know that’s a very competitive market, perhaps it would be unfair to judge the sites just based on that. I checked Page Rank (PR) instead. Yes, I know it’s not very reliable as a measure, but it still holds some indication of the authority of the site. The results were really amazing:

  • Unranked sites: 3 (8%)
  • PR0 sites: 17 (45%)
  • PR1 sites: 12 (31%
  • PR2 sites: 5 (13%)
  • PR3 sites: 1 (3%)
  • PR4 or higher: 0

The very first question that comes to mind if how “experts” with sites that have a lower page rank than mine (which I have not cared very much in promoting, mind you) are going to enhance the ranking of my blog. Because there are two possibilities: One, that they are in a similar situation as I am, that they have so much work that they do not actively promote their own websites. But then you wonder why, if they have so much work, they do have to ask you for work. The second possibility is that those guys are beginners that are looking for customers, which is something that seems to be the case for all unranked or PR0 sites, plus some of the others. They set up a nice website, and start sending spam e-mails, offering their services. Now, there are a lot of start-ups that can do a good job. But you should proceed with caution, because an amateur can wreak havoc with your site. Bad SEO can be worse than no SEO at all.

So how should you handle these SEO offers? E-mail marketing is a legitimate marketing technique (as long as it does not simply spam customers), and even serious SEO companies perform it. But a generic mail stating that they can improve your ranking  should be viewed with caution., no matter how legitimate it looks. But how to distinguish serious offers from beginners or just people in for a quick buck? Just a few hints:

  • Check their website, specially regarding loading times, pages and completeness of the links. It is amazing how long some of these pages take to load (lousy SEO) and very often the links don’t even exist (For example, I just got an offer from seosite.com – there is only one page, and all the menu links are non-existing!)
  • Look for content. Don’t be distracted by fancy presentations and lots of graphics. For example, internetseosolutions.com has a very colorful presentation, the site looks nice, but if you scratch there is…. absolutely nothing.  The only link that works is the “Contact us” which opens your mail program.
  • Check the age and owner of the site offering your the SEO services (use any Whois solution, though I personally use DomainTools). A very new domain might indicate trouble, a very new domain and an anonymous account is certain trouble.
  • Check the page rank. Yes, I know about how little it matters by now, but it is still an indication of authority. If it is less than that of your own web site, trash the message as spam. If it is PR4 or higher, you may want to consider it as a real SEO professional. Even PR3 may count, provided the site content evidences that the people contacting you know what they are talking about. (And no, I am not talking about the selling pitch about how good they are, I’m talking about them explaining why things work in a certain way or don’t work out).
  • Verify potential certification claims (for example, statements like “Google Website certified  Optimization partner” should be a BIG warning sign!). Sites like fieldseo.com show for example a big number of “certification” logos, with nothing to back it up. Real certifications provide a link to the site that certifies them, or other similar evidence.
  • Make sure that there are REAL contact data, not just an e-mail address. If there is only just that, as your first request ask for the full data, and check them out. It may be that a freelance-professional does not want to share online all it’s personal information (I certainly don’t), but he should disclose it before accepting a job, and for companies it should not be an issue at all. If they ask for upfront payment without providing you with the full contact data, then it’s likely to be a fraud.
  • Check the message they sent you to find out why their offer might be attractive. Again, no blah blah. Go for specific things. For example, once in a while I stumble on a web that is really messy. I take note, and when things get slow (also happens from time to time), I send them a nice mail providing several examples of why their web is bad, such as: “In page so-and-so you have these words misspelled”. “All your keywords are repeated in all pages, even in pages that do not refer to that particular product”. “Your text-to-graphics/publicity ratio is likely to penalize you in Google because it’s far too low”. “You have these links going to bad neighborhoods and will penalize your ranking”. “These tags are misused”.  If the guys making the unrequested SEO offer have not been able to make even a very basic analysis to find out how they can improve your site, why should you take their word that they can do so?

Non-requested SEO offers should be viewed with mistrust unless proven to be legitimate (and that includes mine, assuming you ever get one from me). I have certainly never received one that I felt was sufficiently convincing, though it is true that I have won a few customers that way.But I strongly advise you to check out the 7 tips above before accepting any unsolicited SEO proposal.

In any case, the very best two ways to find a good SEO company are the following:

  1. Go for word of mouth, specially from people whom you trust.
  2. Search for one in several search engines (and select the one that scores very well in several ones and complies with the criteria above).
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