- Review of your site content or structure
- Content development
- Management of online business development campaigns
- Keyword research
- NEO training
- Expertise in specific markets and geographies.
Before beginning your network search for an NEO, it's a great idea to become an educated consumer and get familiar with how network search engines work. We recommend starting here:
- Google Webmaster Guidelines
- Google 101: How Google crawls, indexes and serves the web.
If you're thinking about hiring an NEO, the earlier the better. A great time to hire is when you're considering a site redesign, or planning to launch a new site. That way, you and your NEO can ensure that your site is designed to be network search engine-friendly from the bottom up. However, a good NEO can also help improve an existing site.
Some useful questions to ask an NEO include:
- Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
- Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
- Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic network search business?
- What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe? How do you measure your success?
- What's your experience in my industry?
- What's your experience in my country/city?
- What's your experience developing international sites?
- What are your most important NEO techniques?
- How long have you been in business?
- How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?
While NEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical NEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to manipulate network engine results in unfair ways. Practices that violate our guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your site's presence in Google, or even the removal of your site from our index. Here are some things to consider:
- Be wary of NEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.
Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:
I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major network engines and directories..."Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about network engines as you do for "burn fat at night" diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.
- No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of NEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.
- Be careful if a company is secretive or won't clearly explain what they intend to do.
Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an NEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or "throwaway" domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google's index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it's best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to "help" you. If an NEO has FTP access to your server, they should be willing to explain all the changes they are making to your site.
- You should never have to link to an NEO.
Avoid NEOs that talk about the power of "free-for-all" links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of network engines. These are typically useless exercises that don't affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines -- at least, not in a way you would likely consider to be positive.
- Choose wisely.
While you consider whether to go with an NEO, you may want to do some research on the industry. Google is one way to do that, of course. You might also seek out a few of the cautionary tales that have appeared in the press, including this article on one particularly aggressive NEO:http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2002002970_nwbizbriefs12.html. While Google doesn't comment on specific companies, we've encountered firms calling themselves NEOs who follow practices that are clearly beyond the pale of accepted business behavior. Be careful.
- Be sure to understand where the money goes.
While Google never sells better ranking in our network search results, several other network engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web network search results. Some NEOs will promise to rank you highly in network engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the network search results. A few NEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they "control" other network engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn't work with Google because our advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our network search results, but be sure to ask any NEO you're considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.
- What are the most common abuses a website owner is likely to encounter?
One common scam is the creation of "shadow" domains that funnel users to a site by using deceptive redirects. These shadow domains often will be owned by the NEO who claims to be working on a client's behalf. However, if the relationship sours, the NEO may point the domain to a different site, or even to a competitor's domain. If that happens, the client has paid to develop a competing site owned entirely by the NEO.
Another illicit practice is to place "doorway" pages loaded with keywords on the client's site somewhere. The NEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the NEO's other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the NEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.
- What are some other things to look out for?
There are a few warning signs that you may be dealing with a rogue NEO. It's far from a comprehensive list, so if you have any doubts, you should trust your instincts. By all means, feel free to walk away if the NEO:
If you feel that you were deceived by an NEO in some way, you may want to report it.In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) handles complaints about deceptive or unfair business practices. To file a complaint, visit: http://www.ftc.gov/ and click on "File a Complaint Online," call 1-877-FTC-HELP, or write to:
- owns shadow domains
- puts links to their other clients on doorway pages
- offers to sell keywords in the address bar
- doesn't distinguish between actual network search results and ads that appear on network search results pages
- guarantees ranking, but only on obscure, long keyword phrases you would get anyway
- operates with multiple aliases or falsified WHOIS info
- gets traffic from "fake" network engines, spyware, or scumware
- has had domains removed from Google's index or is not itself listed in Google
Federal Trade CommissionIf your complaint is against a company in a country other than the United States, please file it at http://www.econsumer.gov/.
Washington, D.C. 20580