Wood Street Journal

Informed Marketing Insights & Inspiration

Our goal for the Wood Street Journal is simple: to educate and empower the reader by providing them with the tools to market their business, organization, or cause online. We do this by offering posts by experts on web design, tech trends, SEO, social, content marketing, and more. If there are any related topics you’d like us to cover, please let us know!

Does Your SEO Expert Know What They’re Talking About??

The number one most important thing to focus on when trying to build traffic to your website is… content that your target audience can use! That’s it, top dog. No debate.

And yet, there are so many SEO “experts” out there who seem to either miss this or ignore it altogether.

I am a partner at a web design and development firm. I know a few things about SEO.

But, for some reason, I get pitched DAILY via email and occasionally on the phone by companies trying to “improve my traffic” using words like “dramatically” and “guaranteed.”


First of all, did they even read our services page before they called? Doubtful. We rank very well and get great traffic. And yet, they seem to know something we don’t.

They have the secret! Whew. So glad someone knows the secret.

Yes, I’m being a tad bit snarky here. But, it drives us insane that so called experts are feeding good, reputable companies a bunch of malarky.

The other day I was speaking to an MBA class on online marketing. One of the students (who also owns his own company) asked if he should listen to all the “optimization companies” calling him. My answer, there are lots of great SEO firms out there but “if it seems shady, it is.”

SEO firms who are great at what they do will probably not be cold calling you.

Most of these companies are one trick ponies. They found a solution that worked and continue to use that again and again. Great! You’re getting traffic, awesome! Is it converting? Are you building trust? Is this sustainable? What happens when Google changes the rules? Are you safe?

The only way to truly know you are safe is to always focus on delivering great content to the user. Focus on their experience. Focus on giving them what they need. Google is smart enough to see this and rank you accordingly.

If you try to game the system, think about who you’re up against… a bunch of very smart programmers whose job it is to sniff you out.

But wait, what about Meta keyword tags? That’s the answer! You have to have Meta keyword tags right? Hmm, let’s ask Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google, what he thinks (in 2009!)…

There are Meta tags that Google will use but Meta keyword tags have no impact on ranking whatsoever. Meta descriptions, while they don’t directly impact ranking, do have some importance in terms of traffic.

Google will use your Meta description in the listing (or some version of it). So, it is a good idea to have a compelling Meta description. But, it has very little to no impact on the ranking of your website.

It’s the content, the utility content that matters. And unless they are discussing code, they’re either pitching  advertising or snake oil.

3 Comments on Article

  1. Point well taken, Jon.

    I have to say that many companies have highly complex web presences that include numerous sub-domains, servers, and even separate CMSs. In such cases there are some serious SEO skills involved that go way beyond content. There’s also quite a bit of know-how involved with properly setting up XML sitemaps for news, video, etc., properly annotating mobile sub-domains to get the full search value, microformats and schema for rich-snippet results in the SERPs, SEO-friendly infinite scroll and AJAX experiences using progressive enhancement techniques…the list could go on and on. But the reality is most SEO companies who are cold-calling you don’t fully understand all that. That’s what makes companies like mine different.

    For small businesses running WordPress with a well-conceived, keyword-researched information architecture, a ongoing investment in high quality content is absolutely what matters most.

    1. I should have said perceived SEO companies. Yours is one that I respect immensely as you know. In fact, there are many SEO experts and companies I have a great deal of respect for. This is not about any of them. This is about the hucksters who take advantage of small business owners just trying to market themselves online.

  2. Great article! I too get calls (some real people and some robocalls) and emails from companies claiming to do just that. I have warned clients of these “guarantees.” I advise them to work on their content and social media efforts and if that doesn’t work, then I will find them someone who focuses more on SEO than I do. (I’m an FSU grad too.)

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