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Top 10 Ad Agency SEO Lies

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 15 years and 95 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

lies,lies,liesThe best long-term SEO strategy is well researched website project management that maintains users and search engines as co-existing priorities by utilizing a combined understanding of search engines, consumers, and web technology. I am mind boggled by the garbage that passes as SEO and makes anyone claiming to practice SEO look like a dolt. Yes, SEO moves fast. Yes, the strategies change periodically, but the essence of SEO basically stays the same.
This post started just picking on BAD SEO companies, but I figured I’d keep with the theme of picking on ad agencies a little bit instead (mainly because I couldn’t think of any good reasons not to). These same lies are told by clueless account executives at ineffective SEO companies as well as ad agencies. If you hear one…run for cover.

On the heels of Hugh (who’s a big hero of mine), and Guy, I present you with the top 10 SEO lies told by ad agencies.

1.You really need metatags
…if this was 1999. Now you need social bookmarking, press releases, content syndication, a blog and someone to run it, some viral content as linkbait, and about 500 more good sites linking to yours with your targeted anchor text, but we don’t actually DO any of that yet.

2. We shouldn’t have a problem ranking you for “home loans”.
Actually, we could probably buy your way in on PPC if you can afford $5 clicks. Even if you had 100k budget to spend just on ranking for that phrase you’re probably screwed, but you’ll be fine just ranking for “low rate home refinancing loans in detroit” instead right?

  • Links aren’t really that important.
    Don’t worry, our crappy corporate-speak content should attract them naturally. If it doesn’t we’ll just continue to charge you until we get so fed up with each other that we’ll just outsource your project to someone else.

  • No, they’re not doorway pages, they’re “landing pages”
    (It’s okay, BMW does it)

    5. Rankings in 30 days? No problem.
    …for your obscure 7 word keyphrase it should only take a couple months after we get all the copy approved by the legal team.

    6. It’s easy to rank well (*cough* in dogpile), We’ll just submit your site to 150,000 search engines.
    I learned about search engine marketing in 1997, and really don’t give a damn about your rankings. Pony up the dough, and I’ll help you come up with a real pretty powerpoint presentation made of important sounding statistics and graphs that don’t actually mean anything to show your boss how well our voodoo is working.

  • We would never do anything that violated the SE’s insanely ambiguous webmaster guidelines.
    …we’re huge pussies that don’t experiment with anything except meta-tags, or have fed our clients so much sh*t over the years that we’re starting to believe it ourselves.

    8. Most companies AREN’T number one for their own name.
    Most of OUR clients don’t rank for their own name, because we never bothered to get them a link.

    9. There’s no benefit in SEO, we can’t track it like PPC.
    We don’t know how to do it and it seems kinda hard.

    10. Cool flash pages and user experience are more important than SEO
    Get rid of the $5,000 flash intro page? That would destroy the whole user experience (and you’d probably be p*ssed if we admitted we were wrong!)…so what if they can’t find you on a search for your name, they can just type in your domain name. Not that many people really use search engines to find stuff anyways.

    …and don’t think that SEO clients don’t tell a fib or two now and then.

    Good working relationships between SEO’s and their clients are hugely dependant on managing expectations. Whether you are a consultant or a client, be sure to spend some time communicating your expectations or process to be sure you are on the same page. You’ll all be happier in the long run.

    There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.

  • -Benjamin “D-to-the-hizzy” Disraeli.

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    • Thomas

      Excellent Post. You’re writing skills are brutally honest and truthful! That’s why I love this blog.

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    • rmccarley

      Geez dude. Looks like you’re in the same mood I’m in today. The more I read your posts, the more I like your style. Great work – keep it coming!

    • Nadir

      I am pissed too with all these charlatans who started doing SEO overnight. I’m more concerned about the poor companies who get ripped off paying 2000 bucks a month for a change in the meta tags and 10 directory submissions.

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    • ray

      Read some SEO forums for a few months… hang out a shingle. It’s kind of like anybody who cooks nowadays calls themselves a “Chef”. Joe Schmoe takes a 3 month course at the local tech school (the same place where they teach heating and air conditioning repair, along with how to be a diesel mechanic), now he calls himself Chef Joe Schmoe.

    • rcjordan

      hhh. Good one, stuntdubl.

    • Rae

      Wow. I’m still in shock that Todd said “pussies”. ;-)

    • Xenith

      “fed our clients so much sh*t over the years that we’re starting to believe it ourselves.”

      My Fav.

    • Shimon Sandler

      Hi Todd,

      I’ve worked for a top ranked agency, and you tell it as it is. Like most comedy…it’s funny cause it’s true. Great post, great blog:-)

    • Mike Dammann

      It’s been a while since I’ve cracked up over something as I did just now over your post. Definitely worthy of a feature on threadwatch :)

    • hash

      Wow, I think I used to work at a firm like that.

      Very funny, and true. Thanks for the great post.

    • Cedric

      Nice article. Pleasant to read, and maybe usefull to some newcommers in the SEO…

    • Patrick Kilhoffer

      I had an SEO firm approach me about handling their marketing, my first question was why they didn’t just get themselves ranked well for SEO services :), my second question was what success story could they show me and they said they got a client #1 on Google for “affordable housing in Denver Colorado”.

      Now I’m no SEO expert, but I suspect that a dedicated high school student could have done just as well with that search term.

    • Mustafa in Los Angeles

      “if this was 1999.”

      I am about to print this out and give it to a client.

    • Melanie Phung

      Ugh. I know this is an old post, but I think it still applies to the current landscape. I just joined an interactive agency as their first real SEO, but I was previously an in-house SEO for an ecommerce company, and educating our sales guys is one of my top priorities now. I think the problem with a lot of ad agencies, not all and not exclusively, is that they leave the sales guys to their own devices so who knows what they’ll come up with in order to land the sale.

      But for the most part I agree with some of your other readers in saying that this whole “anyone can call himself an SEO” thing is way out of control. In fact, I know developers who are now advertising themselves as SEO service providers on the basis of my having done a site audit for them once. LOL. (it’s true!)

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    • Orange County Advertising Agency

      Stumbled on this while looking for keyword competitors. I always get nervous with articles like this because I sometimes wonder if I have not screwed up somewhere. Happily I agree that all 10 are common lies. Meta tags, sure but only so that your page is described well in the SE’s. Creative flash? Sure, I mean the page has to sell the product as well as SEO sells the site right? But flash has less to do with SEO and more to do with product presentation. Number one for the company name, well I suppose it, like all SEO, depends on the name of your company, if you’re smart then your company name wont include the word sex. :o Links, still need them, bloggers.. oh hell yeah, and writers too (we have interns).

    • nagakuli

      wow , i learn seo for a couple years , and i get something difference from your blog todd.. many thanks for inspiring me and other with your success , i also provide seo blog called jasa seo | jasa seo toko online | cara meningkatkan penjualan toko online | jasa seo murah | jasa seo profesional pakar seo and i also have travel tour website they call it agen tiket pesawat | bisnis tiket pesawat | usaha tiket pesawat please feel free to visit my website todd. thanks for sharing !

    • aditya
    • seo fighter

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    • Sara Tabesh

      Your blog is very
      unique in every way.Keep doing good work.
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