It’s Hard to Choose a Good SEO Agency

By | August 26, 2019

Hello, this is John Locke, and today I want to explore a couple of the reasons why manufacturers have a difficult time selecting an SEO company. As some of you may know, I’ve been specializing in SEO for manufacturing and industrial companies for over a year now, and one of the things that I’ve noticed is manufacturing companies have a hard time wrapping their head around SEO and how to choose the right SEO company for them. This is something that plagues a lot of people and a lot of business owners, not just manufacturers, but sometimes even people in my own industry, that design and build websites. I think I finally put my finger on why. With Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and people who make industrial products, they follow a spec sheet, they use specific materials, there’s specific dimensions to the product [being manufactured]. It’s made in the same way each time, to where there’s predictable results. Because everything in manufacturing follows this straightforward process — that once you’ve dialed in the exact process for making a part, or making a product, or making some sort of thing for somebody else — you follow that process exactly, all the way through, every time. Similarly, when you’re looking at web development, you can choose to code in different languages. You could use a CMS like WordPress or Drupal. On the surface level, the end result is basically going to be the same. Now maybe underneath the hood, there’s different things that are going on that affect the performance. But basically, the functionality and the look and feel of the site is going to be a specific way, no matter what language or tool that you use to put it together. Now when it comes to SEO, it’s a little bit different. Let me explain why. With manufacturing, with coding, everything is pretty straightforward. You do a certain set of processes to get a certain result. In SEO, you’re aiming at a moving target, at the same time that all your competitors on the face of the earth are also aiming at the same moving target. Add to that confusion, that Google and Bing do not give you step-by-step instructions for how to rank your site. Yes, some things they are going to tell you. But a lot of stuff they want to keep secret. They don’t want to put the exact formula out there, because spammers will game the system, and they will rig it completely. There’s a veil of opacity over SEO, to where the best SEO companies are using some sort of scientific method to test theories, and test hypotheses, to make sure that they’re following best practices. Also, Google is changing their algorithm on a daily basis. They’re running experiments in real time, to give users the best results. Also, they’re folding in machine learning, aka artificial intelligence — what they call RankBrain, which is their own AI — their own machine learning, which they’re using to try and produce better results, and give people who are searching for things the exact thing that they’re searching for at the exact time [they need it]. I’m going to add one more thing to the mix here. When it comes to SEO companies, there’s a lot of factors that go into SEO: the content on your page, the way that you format the content, the design and the user experience of your site, there’s technical SEO, building back links, there’s also building publicity for your brand. All these things go into SEO. SEO companies have different philosophies about what works best. And every SEO company might use a mix of [some or] all of these things that I just mentioned. But they’re going to favor some more than others. Now for example, there are some companies that will try and sell you spammy back links, and things of that nature, and tell you that’s going to be the magic bullet that solves your problems. Some people are going to sell you packages of things that you probably don’t even understand [aka the “Baffle them with Bullshit” technique]. Those companies might just have a standard process for every type of client that they take on: whether it’s in health. or education, or manufacturing, or retail, or real estate, or insurance. Now, the fact of the matter is, while some of the basic SEO things are the same [for all categories], there’s specific things that work better in each type of category. So you have to look at each site as a specific thing [a specific situation]. Some people obsess over technical SEO. They look at things like site speed. They’ll read the log files from the server. They’ll try and eliminate 404 errors. Some other companies will try and cheat at everything that they’re doing with SEO. We generally call these “black hat SEOs”. They look for exploits in the system to try and rank sites. The problem is, when Google discovers that sites are going against their prescribed rules, your rankings go away, basically. So you don’t want to be caught with a black hat company. There’s some people they will not build a link at all, which I think is also a bit extreme, and they’ll focus only on content. Some people will tell you that if you just change the URL structure of your site, the web address structure of your site, that everything will be fine. And some people just focus on titles and descriptions. So as you can understand, there’s a lot of different ways to approach SEO. There’s a lot of different methods for going about it, and everybody has a different system for doing SEO. It’s completely different from Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM). It’s completely different from following a product spec sheet. And even if you’re comparing it to web development, it’s completely different than following a set process for developing websites. SEO is aiming at a moving target, and the methods that one company uses over here…will be completely different from the methods this company over here, or this company over here, or this company over there uses. That’s the biggest thing that I see manufacturing companies having a problem with. I think, in the way that their mind works — and I think also with web developers, there’s there’s a certain similarity there — that they see the world in a certain way. Where you follow a certain set of rules, and then everything is fine. But with SEO it’s a little bit different. I would say SEO is more like a cross between forensic science, the scientific method, detective work, and basically following the clues to get the result that you want. Then, building out long-term, to where your risk is minimized, and you’re not using exploits that are going to get you in trouble. But instead, you’re using best practices that are going to stay solid for a long time. Because a lot of people who run manufacturing plants, they [tend to] think of everything as a set process [with no variation], and so every company…basically… *should*…in their mind…have the same process. Therefore, the only differentiator in their mind becomes price. Like I said before, even people who build websites for a living, a lot of them don’t understand how SEO works. So I can imagine what a lot of business owners, and CEOs, and people who run manufacturing plants think of this as well. So to sum up, price becomes a differentiator when you don’t understand the difference between company A, Company B, Company C, Company D — and they all kind of look similar, and you don’t really understand how to evaluate them, and you’re coming from a work environment where everything follows a process [that has no variation] and so everything turns out the same way each time. It’s not like that in SEO — not at all. So what should you do? Look for the reputation of each company. Try and talk to past customers of theirs. Try and look at some of their reviews. Like I said, look at their general reputation within the SEO community. Google their company name, and see if they come up in that right-hand column on the Knowledge Graph. See if they rank for their own business name. See if they’re following the best practices, and they have a footprint in the SEO community. If they’re publishing material on their blog, if they’re putting information out there, if they appear to have some sort of thought leadership within the community, then that might be a good sign. I would also look for case studies on their site. I do not trust any SEO company that cannot provide the case studies of what they’ve done for their clients, and the results that came from their efforts. I want to see proof of where their clients were before, and where they ended up, as far as traffic, as far as rankings, as far as Google driving qualified customers to that website. So those are just a couple tips. I’d love to know what you think. Now, if you have an SEO question that you’d like us to answer, go ahead and leave it in the comments below, and we’ll answer it out in a video for you. My name is John Locke. My business is Lockedown Design and SEO, and we help manufacturing and industrial firms with their SEO. We help them drive more traffic from Google and Bing, and as a result they get more RFQs (Requests For Quotes). If you’re getting value from this channel, please subscribe. Until next time. peace. [Outtakes: Oh wait, I’m going to throw this part in… In the end you get what you pay for.]

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  1. John Locke Post author

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