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Evaluating an Unsolicited SEO Proposal

Evaluating an Unsolicited SEO Proposal daily-golden-nugget-1122-72
Your website's contact form is both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because you can protect yourself from unwanted mass email spam by hiding your email address, but it's a curse because you still get unsolicited offers of all kinds.

The typical unsolicited emails can come from random jewelry vendors, especially those trying to offer you a new source for diamonds and gemstones. You'll also get a lot of unsolicited emails from people offering you different online marketing services.

Since I own more than a dozen of my own websites, I receive some type of online marketing offer every week. Honestly, I find it a bit ironic that other online marketing companies are trying to offer *me* their marketing services. It simply proves that these people do not even bother to read the website they are offering service too.

A few months ago, I received this message through the website:
Subject: Want more clients and customers?
We can help your website to get on first page of Google and increase the number of leads and sales you are getting from your website. Please email us back for full proposal.
Best Regards

Google specifically warns against these types of offers and specifically says "Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue."

After ignoring these requests for many years, I decided I should finally check out what they were offering, so I requested their information and received this in reply:

Thank you for your interest in our services. Our main objective is to bring businesses on the first page of Google so they get more traffic and leads from their website. It is one of the most cost effective and efficient way of advertisement as compared to any other available source and important thing is that it has global reach. In short, we help you to get 300-400% more ROI, more clients / more customers, and more business.

For 10 keywords, it will cost you USD 199 per month. In case you go with 20 keywords it would be USD 299. We will work on following things...

Our Optimization Techniques:

A. Onsite Optimization
• Keyword Research and Selection
• Titles tags Generation
• Meta tags Optimization
• ALT tags Optimization
• Hyperlink Optimization
• Sitemap Generation
• XML Sitemap in Google, Yahoo, Bing (MSN)
• Proper linking structure
• W3C validation of homepage
• Right keyword density
• Making dynamic pages search engine friendly

B. Offsite Optimization
• Link Generation by one way linking
• Analysis and Reporting

Also we will be working on:

• Article submission
• Press release submission
• Blogging
• Social Media Optimization

Just so you know, We are Indian search marketing firm with more than 10 years of experience in Internet Marketing and Social media services.

Looking forward to hear from you soon.

What we have here is a typical search engine optimization offer that's not worth the email it was written in, nor the time it took to read it. I'll break down each bullet point and explain exactly why this proposal is bad.

Keyword Research and Selection

The first thing they are offering is keyword research and selection. Obviously they are not aware that web page ranking by keywords is a losing strategy, and that now websites are being ranked by topics rather than keywords.

Titles tags Generation

Then they say they will do some work on the optimization of title tags by "generating" them. It's one thing to manually work on a page and figure out the best title tag. It will take a SEO professional at least 15 minutes to review a page and think of a reasonable page title.

But "generating" title tags sounds like an SEO program I once knew that would take a list of keywords and create random combinations of page titles. It was nothing more than keyword stuffing of page titles, which is now a bad strategy. Page titles should be unique for every page.

Meta tags Optimization

The phrasing "meta tags" makes me think they will use the keywords they find in the "meta keywords" on your website. Except that meta keywords have been useless since the mid 1990's.

There are other meta tags that could be optimized, like the meta robots tag and other tags that are used for social networks, but those are higher level tags that are probably outside the scope of this $199 per month proposal.

ALT tags Optimization

Honesty I do like seeing the offering of this service because they are referring to adding the ALT attribute to all the images on the site. On the other hand, when you mention ALT tag optimization in the same discussion as keyword research, there's a good chance that they are simply offering more keyword stuffing into the website.

Hyperlink Optimization

The over-optimization of hyperlinks is why Google had to create the Penguin Filter in the first place. Linking needs to be more natural, with sporadic linking of phrases to other pages where they make sense. Instead of linking every occurrence of the phrase "engagement rings" to your ring catalog, you might simply link the words "click here."

The next time an SEO agency offers you hyperlink optimization, you have to ask them exactly what they are going to do. The only correct approach now is to make sure your keywords are not being overused in the linking.

Sitemap Generation

From my point of view your website software should be able to automatically create a sitemap for you. This shouldn't be a service an SEO agency needs to offer. A good programmer can write a script to generate the sitemap page for you that you can link to in the footer of all your pages.

XML Sitemap in Google, Yahoo, Bing (MSN)

Assuming your web programmer built an automated script to build a sitemap page, then the XML version of the page can also be created. Notice the mention of "MSN" in this bullet. Before Bing was known as Bing, it was known as MSN Search. Microsoft changed the name of their search engine to Bing in May 2009. That was long enough ago that it seems odd to me to even mention MSN in their service list.

Microsoft is now using the MSN name for a new web portal service which (as of this writing) has nothing to do with search. Maybe this SEO agency things they are being smart by including it, but this simply causes (intentional?) confusion.

Proper linking structure

I'm not exactly sure what they are referring to here, but I have to assume they are talking about a reorganization of the website to create different levels of nested pages. This type of work is better suited for your website programming and design company rather than a foreign company that you're only paying $199 per month to.

W3C validation of homepage

Validating your website programming code is also something better suited for your programming and design company. Honestly, you could run your website through an HTML validation without paying someone to do it. But before you go crazy trying to improve the HTML programming of your website, just be aware that Google is really good at reading and understanding old HTML programming techniques more accurately than how it reads the latest and greatest methods.

The effort you put forth trying to validate for W3C compliance is probably only marginally worth the time and money it takes to do.

Right keyword density

If nothing else, this one item is a clear sign that this SEO agency really doesn't know what they are doing. Writing for a keyword density means you will include a keyword phrase a certain number of times for every 100 words on that page. I remember that the magic density was 5 to 7 times for every 100. Unfortunately, writing that way always sounded unnatural and forced.

When writing your web pages now you should not worry about the number of times a keyword appears, but simply write your content for the enjoyment of our customers.

Making dynamic pages search engine friendly

You won't build a website today without using a content management system (CMS), so in a way, all pages are dynamic now. The sloppy CMS' of years ago had ugly looking URLs, but that's not really a problem so much anymore. The URL cleanup is usually something that your web programmer should be doing because an SEO agency usually won't have access to reprogram your website. This process is usually labor intensive and more expensive than $199 per month.

Link Generation by one way linking

One way linking sounds a lot like they would pay a link farm service to create thousands of links from that farm back to your website. This is exactly the type of link building that gets you into trouble.

Article submission

Those offering article submission service are probably writing one or two articles for you every month and then having them posted on several websites. This process was helpful in the past because each of those articles would link back to your website. Google now views this technique as an attempt to manipulate search results and they penalize you for doing it.

Press release submission

Press release submission was another manipulative SEO approach from years ago. There are many websites that specialize in providing press releases to journalist, the most popular is A few years ago the SEO industry discovered that those press releases carried a lot of search engine ranking weight, and the technique became heavily abused. Google eventually stopped counting press releases as a legitimate source of ranking.


I'm a big believer in blogging, as long as it's quality blogging over quantity blogging. The trouble is that you can't expect an agency to write a quality blog every month if that same agency is also doing everything else mentioned here. A quality blogger would charge between $200-$400 for a legitimate blog post; at only $199 per month you can't expect much blogging value.

Social Media Optimization

The only social media optimization I can think of is adding the appropriate meta tags and HTML code that Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are able to read. Most SEO agencies will add generic tags on every page throughout the website, but the correct approach is to tie these tags into the CMS so relevant information can be surfaced for every page.

Like many of the suggested items above, this feature is more appropriate for your programming company than the SEO agency.


I didn't pursue any further conversations with the SEO agency after the first email, but they keep trying to contact me every 7 days like clockwork. Although their sales force is quite vigilant, their SEO proposal is several years out of date.

The SEO of today takes a lot of time. Google has depreciated many of the website ranking methods that once could be automated. Agencies offering low pricing like $199 or $299 per month are probably using some type of automation that won't work, or will get you penalized through Google.

It's upsetting to see companies like this still offering services that are years out of date. I realize that the everyday average business owner is not keeping up with the latest SEO trends, and many still believe that everything shown above is still the right way to manage your SEO.

The best advice I can give when evaluating an SEO agency is to run away real fast if they offer you the services shown above. They will ultimately harm you more than they will help.

AT: 11/11/2014 10:18:34 AM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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