In the SEO business, there’s a little trick how to persuade site owners into new clients. It’s lying about your SEO performance. Remember, most SEO firms are just people sitting in front of a computer trying to make a few bucks working from home. Bona fide firms have layers of staffers and come with a premium price tag.

Or they’re an overseas chop shop with 200 employees. Each staffer earns a buck or two an hour and speaks broken English. There’s positives and negatives in value depending on what you’re budgeting. But the real question is how do you know who trust?

Analyze Their #1 Rankings

When many SEO people talk about their #1 client rankings, they always tell you about their “top” Google placeholders.

Often they ramble on about something like this:

Our client XXX.com is #1 for XXX keyword on Google.

What you need to ask is this:

Can you please tell me the exact search counts for XXX keyword?

Usually you will receive one of these answers:

  1. But they are #1
  2. We can send that information to you soon (which is code for never:-)
  3. I’m confused, don’t you see they’re #1?

If you receive any of the above answers, run the other way.

Plumbing and Local SEO

Let’s use a real example. Joe is a plumber living in Miami, Florida. But he no longer smiles as much as he use to back when business was good.

You see, the bigger plumbing companies are crushing Joe’s business. Heck, he’s a great plumber and even has a memorable plumber’s name. So Joe starts talking to SEO people for help. He wants to rank better  for plumbing keyword phrases in Miami. Good thinking Joe.

One SEO guy says he already does plumbing SEO. Usually what happens is he shows you some thinly veiled proof. As you can see, there is no search traffic for ‘miami plumbing for my home’. So why would you pay an SEO guy (or girl) to help you rank for a keyword phrase with zero search traffic?

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Poor Joe

Now he has two problems. Business is off  a staggering 58%. Plus, now he doesn’t know who to trust for SEO. He use to do pretty well landing plumbing customers. But he can no longer compete with the big guys who dominate Google.

My advice? Be very careful who you hire for SEO. Run them through the meat grinder asking about exact search keywords before you ever pay them money. Also demand they send you their client rankings by keyword along with exact search counts for each.

Broad vs Exact Keywords: What’s the Difference?

I cannot stress how important EXACT keywords are to target. Forget about ‘broad’ keywords. But what’s the difference?

  • Broad match = Contains all the words in any order & can include other words
  • Phrase match = Contains all the words in order & can include other words before or after the phrase
  • Exact match = Contains only these words in this order

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The problem with broad match search volume is it’s an aggregate of all searches involving any combination of keywords. Even worse, they can include other words un-related to your services or products. In simple terms, it’s an inflated number of estimated search volume.