"Hi. My name's Margo. I'm calling for Google to help put your business on Google's home page..." So goes the prerecorded pitch from a telemarketer.
What's wrong with this? Where to start!
First: the prerecorded intro - that first makes me wait for it to click in then tells me, on its terms, what it's up to. But it gets worse (or if you're up for laughs, better.) Read on.
Second: If you decide you're interested or just nosing around, you press the digit as instructed and you're rolled to music on hold. That's right, there's still not a live person. You have to hold until they're ready for you. Friends, that's just insulting. Please ask yourself how you feel about someone being so bold as to send a prerecorded rather than live message and then asks you to press a number for more and then, puts you on hold to wait for them.
Here's a recommendation. When it's a search engine-related telemarketer, wait it out. Have some fun. My last one went something like this:
(Wait, wait, wait wait then...)
"Hello, My name is Margo and thanks for letting me help put your business at the top of Google."
"You're going to help me? Great. What does that mean?"
"When people search for you, you'll come up first."
"Well, of course, if they're searching for ME, why wouldn't I come up first?"
(Deriding laughter then...) No, your business. When they search for your business they see your name first."
"Ohhhhh. So how would you do that?"
"We have ways of ensuring that when someone searches for you, you are represented on Google's first page. And let me add, Bing and Yahoo, too."
Now's where the real fun starts. "Well do you optimize for certain search words?"
Then she says, "What do you mean?"
And I reply, "Keywords. Do you plan on using certain keywords?"
"Do I get to give them to you?"
Pause. "Uh, Yes, of course. And we'll help you choose them"
"Cool. Well, uh, for your company - what words would be for your company?"
"Let's talk about your company. First the company name. And then maybe words related to what
"Oh. Like you do search engine optimization. OK. Hang on. Let me punch that in."
Then enter it into a Google search box. Surprise. Nada.
Back on the phone, "Hmmmm. When I do that, I don't see your name. Not on page one or page two. Nope. Not even page 3. Hang on. Let me use my search engine assistant..."
So, with a chuckle, I reward myself with a snack for at least keeping them from harrassing a few people while I tied them up.
Fact is, with search engine optimization, if you can't do a search on your company name and come up with a first-page rendering, something is severely wrong. I mean, really. You may have been blacklisted or otherwise penalized for some real or imagined infringement of Google [or Bing or whatever] rules. So really, you don't need any help getting that on the first search page. And any company that can't put themselves above page 4 on Google - I'd say page one, but there are so many SEO's and somewhere along the line, they'll trade places - needs to be ignored.
I will say that we do it as a service in site design, but we also have an SEO specialist that we bring on when it gets down to the short strokes.
Search engine crawlers don't know what's in a graphic. Mention your company name, what you do, a great sale, the crawler doesn't give a hoot about it. Imagine the crawler knocking at the door of your site and asking, "Who are you?" You want to answer them with pictures but they don't speak graphic.
So, sure, use graphics. Make your site as beautiful as you want. But make sure that the same information is in HTML, too. And use the ALT tags. Construct a good balance of what you do and how you do it and what you're selling on the home page. Wanna use a splash page? Knock yourself out. You can revel it its simple beauty...and you'll have plenty of time for that because that splash page may well reduce the number of visitors by lowering your search ranking.
But if beauty is your sole goal, go for it.
Download and use a keyword analyzer. You can look at your page(s) and see what words pop. You'd be surprised how many times you stand back and look at it and realize that a lot of the words don't relate to what you do. "Waste, waste, waste!" - General Bradford Steele, three "e's , not all in a row, M*A*S*H. You wind up higher in ranking with people not actually looking for your services and lower with those who do.
Inbound links are still key. But be careful. That's another one many telemarketing SEO offerings stress. But they set you up with a number of links that are unrelated like a link to your hat shop site from a tree-trimming service in Omaha. That can help in the short term. Then you get crawled a couple of times, the engine's database has been updated and, rats, down you go.
BTW, there are numerous programs for checking your ranking based on keyword searches. Xenu is one. You enter the words a prospect might use to search and it'll tell you what page you rank on with whatever search engine you request. Do that before you engage any outside party for SEO help.
And a piece of general advice: Eschew the telemarketing SEOs. If you're tempted, ask them who they really are. They'll probably tell you they're affiliated with Google or Bing. But ask them what name is in the corner of their paycheck. About that time, they hang up and move on to their next victim. Celebrate.