As I scan my inbox, on a daily basis I have offers to improve the quality of my site, create new catchy logos, and increase traffic through every conceivable method -- but who makes these guys the experts?
Visit their web sites if you dare! When I'm feeling bored, this is what I'll do...
Check their Google Page Rank. To do this, you need to install the Google Toolbar -- you can get it at http://toolbar.google.com
Although Google Page Rank does little more than tell you how many people link to a site, if the result is less than 2 or 3, they have a problem. (Internet 'experts' should know how to build their own page rank -- shouldn't they?)
Next, check their Alexa ranking. For this, you may either install the Alexa Toolbar or visit http://www.alexa.com/# and enter the URL of the site.
An alexa ranking of over a million means the site receives very little traffic. Would you buy a service to improve YOUR traffic from someone who can't even get people to visit THEIR site?
Look at the pages on the site -- do they look like a dog's breakfast gone bad and come back up warm? Are there banners and ads for everything from hair implants to vacations in Tahiti?
Next, open the site in your browser and view the source. In Internet Explorer, simply select the View menu, and Source option.
Do a quick search for the Meta Keywords tag. You'll often see tags crammed full of dozens of keywords, mis-spelled variants and variations that look like they raided a thesaurus.
In reality, if you find more than a couple of keywords and keyword phrases, the author is simply unaware of how the meta keywords tag is treated by the search engine spiders today.
To get any kind of ranking at all, the page and everything on it should have a clear and strong focus. This isn't always possible on the home page -- where a person may offer 4 or 5 different (but related) services, but certainly on each of the inside pages, the theme of the page should ring loud and clear.
Oh yes, and link requests... These have become so annoying they almost always end up straight in the trash. I can count on one hand the number of genuine link requests that came from webmasters of sites complimentary to my own.
Many of these I have recriprocated with -- but the thousands of others to totally unrelated, bogus sites just gotta make you wonder what these people are thinking.
Also, in Google's latest update -- it is said that recriprocal links are being severely discredited in terms of increasing Page Rank. Better to work on one-way links, such as the one you would give me by publishing this article on your site. :)
Just for fun, run the site through an HTML Validator service such as: http://validator.w3.org/ -- although a certain amount of non-standard HTML may be acceptable, one would hope that these so-called experts can write HTML well enough so that their home page will at least pass in most respects.
Last but not least, check the domain registration. Try http://www.whois.sc/beer-store.com (replace beer-store.com with the domain of the site you want to check -- without http://www or any extra characters)
If the site has been registered for less than a couple of years, what gives these so-called 'experts' the experience to give advice to anyone?
(Would you let a doctor with less than 2 years education and experience open you up like a sausage to practice his first open-heart surgery?)
Unfortunately, the Internet is a place where time seems to pass like dog years. Can it be true that everyone who has read one or two eBooks on Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization now consider themselves to be an expert?
As for samples and references -- check them out carefully! One vendor of custom toolbar products similar to my http://www.custom-toolbars.com product gives references to 7 or 8 'customers' -- but when you trace them through -- you'll find that these 'customers' are all the same guy!
One thing that is just as true as ever before -- buyer beware!
About the author:
Marty R. Milette is a Canadian citizen and International Management Consultant who lives with his wife and son in beautiful St. Petersburg Russia. With over 20 years of IT experience, his first web sites appeared in 1994 - long before most 'experts' even heard of the Internet. Learn more at: http://www.marty-milette.com
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