Are You a Rebound SEO?

Posted on Posted in International SEO, Internet Marketing

Today is the first day I’m going to write a personal post, and it won’t be a pretty one. I’ll talk with assertiveness, so for those sensitive souls I will tell you right now–do not read.

Since Internet marketing has exploded in recent years, everyone now at days wants to be an SEO. And that is fine, but the fact that SEO is not an objective and concrete science (neither there is a degree for it), some people are using this to their advantage. There are a lot of people that have self-proclaimed themselves SEO experts, who do not understand a lot of SEO, and have been creating a real bad reputation for real SEOs out there.

Before I begin, I want to say that in my 10 years working in the digital marketing field, the majority of my clients/or jobs have given me a great and enriching experience. Only three times I have accidentally wind up as a rebound SEO…so here is the story.

Today I just came from visiting a client, and for the 3rd time, I got into a situation where the client has someone else—web designer, server administrator, link building kid or friend, the cat, the family turtle, or someone advising him wrong. This type of situation puts an SEO expert (translation: more than 5 years of real experience in SEO) in a very precarious and uncountable position. Normally, these self-proclaimed SEOs have worked in other fields before (banking, law,  healthcare, car sales and the like), and they excel at selling themselves  regardless if they even know the field at all (few articles they read here and all of the Sutton they are ” SEO Gurus,” “SEO televangelist,” #SEO doctors.” Yes, the adjectives and tiles are endless, who cares, no one is checking or saying anything. The clients who do not understand  SEO, listens and if it the message is transmitted from a person with confidence, with a nice suit and a labtop, then is a go. These individuals take advantage on the clients’ lack of technical knowledge, and some even have lied to their clients, wasted their time and broke their wallets in the process. After months the client finally gets it, this dude is totally ripping him off, and none of the outlandish promises he made came true.  Bad SEO dude is done. Finally the client lands a real professioal. Problem is the new SEO is there to pick up after the bad one. Two things happens here:

1) a total mess for the new SEO to fix, and

2) an distrust and traumatized client in which the new SEO will have to pay the bad debts the bad SEO left behind.

If you are lucky to get the job/client under those terms,  you will then become what I call The Rebound SEO. Just like the baggage one carries after braking up a relationship. The client is so traumatized that anything you do is questioned. Even when you develop and present the client with an clear SEO road map (objectives, goals, metrics, etc), you won’t be able to get to the end of that road. The bad SEO  (or SEOs) left the client in defense mode and he ready to get it at you. . You will be working for the next month or two in a very odd place. The Ghost of the bad SEO will always be around you. And guess? Yes that is right, it wont last more than a month or two–that is almost guarantee.

My professional SEO friends out there know exactly what I mean.

The next two or three months, you will spend it trying to be a teacher, an emotional counselor, a lawyer, and a jail gard-. And if you’re strong enough to stick around and survive the turbulence while your client finally moves on emotionally,  you could end up developing one or all of the following SEO PTSD symptoms :)

1) you begin to question if you’ve chosen the right career path,
2) you start daydreaming how would it be like winning the lottery and never have to work agai in your life, and
3) you’re ready to kill someone (not recommended).

Another scenario is that while the bad SEO is gone. The client has hired you and another bad one. The client didn’t take the time (or had the time) to learn and know what to look for on a professional SEO. She here he is, again, working with a bad SEO (one with a big mouth– pardon, I mean, verbal skill). So now is like a chase game. You and the new bad SEO are both  Rebound SEOs. The bad SEO knows you are the “real deal” but he doesn’t want his cover to come off. He now engages an the BATTLE OF THE SEOs (typical). For every move you want to make, the GOOD-GAME TALKER (GGT) SEO will be watching over your shoulder.  He wants to find anything that can credit you. Since there is not way he can won over you with  skills and experience, the bad SEO starts a character assassination campaign against you . Thing like he will report back to your client with all sorts of elaborated conspiracy theories of why you suck, and how great he is at finding you out. The bad SEO, since he is good with “verbal skills comes up with an alleged laundry list of characters defects (oh yeah, sometimes it gets real personal). This individual will advice your client/or boss how or what you “allegedly missing on your SEO work. LIke I said before, this is done with the sole purpose of covering his lack of SEO skills because your presencen can blow up their cover. The GGT SEO knows that your client/boss doesn’t quite understand how internet marketing works, so with a few intricate and chip-techie words, the GGT SEO can make your client/boss to begin to double question your abilities–from which you’ll have to constantly explain, debate, and exercise a lot of maneuvers just to make it through the day in one piece.

One example of this situation happened today.

Here I present to you the cycle a Rebound SEO goes through, so you can recognize it if this ever happens to you.

SITUATION: Old html site, good ranking, client don’t want to lose ranking.

INITIATION OF THE REBOUND SEO:

  • I re-designed his old site from scratch– but not before the client can ask the friend, the partner, his cousin, the wife, and the turtle pet, if they all like the new site design (which the client originally picked and already approved) Finally and after tons of changes, the new site is up on. Tested the site first on a  sub directory. [due to low budget, we didn’t use a test server].

ENTERING THE PURGATORY:

  • The Site is now seating there in the sub-directory. The client is not sure about moving it to the root and set it live.
  • Client would say one day, yes, move it! Then the next day will ask– for the 100th time– again if I think we should do it.
    Note: my advice, if client acts like this, don’t move it. Move it till you make him sign an approval to put the site live.
  • Month one: A whole month has gone by, and by now, I’m thinking I should put a code telling the robots not to index, the sub directory– but I don’t like doing that for file names that will eventually need to rank.
  • Month two: So now, the server guy (the friend), and another SEO firm are all advising my client not to change the old site to a new site because he will lose its ranking.
  • After many debates with my client trying to convince him it was ok to transfer a perfectly healthy, content-rich/ SEO friendly site, the Good-game talkers won.
  • So me and my client said, asta la vista baby! –web site login password changed. And despite my advises by email, by phone, by chat– and by Powerpoint presentations (LOL)– to convince my client that it wasn’t a good idea to leave the new site seating in a sub dir, at the end, I left my baby website behind–rotten there–for him to use it as a PPC landing page (which by the way, the quality score went from 4 to 8 with my site). At this point, i let go since it was like working in hell anyways. The bad SEO stays, the server guy and the friend, cousin and turtle pet. They convinced my client a wining victory for them, or is it?
  • Three months: Almost three months has gone by and my ex client contacts me, again. I’m thinking “WHAT? what happened?!,” I asked. Yep, just as I predicted, terror had set the hell house on fire. My prophesy came true!! Google indexed the sub directory making the site almost a black-hat site with duplicated content (google see this as cheating).
  • Long story short. It took Google banding them to teach them I was right. Thanks Google!! Love you, J.
  • So, client is begging me for help. I moved the site, did on-page SEO a little more . We put a dynamic site, turn it static URLs working beautifully, and replaced file names to imitate old ones–without using 301 re-direct.
    Next: Upload and wala! Google didn’t drop the site. In fact, Guess what? it loved it!! Google search gave us one of those extra links under our URL. Job well done!! –Patting myself in the shoulder :)

TOTAL TIME SPENT IN HELL: 3 months.

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So yeah, going back to today events

I come to pick up my check for the week putting new site up and SEO. Clients is happy, offers me to work on doing local search for his 15 locations. All great!

Came home and got bombarded with emails from him and some another NEW guy that is doing link building for him. I know what you are thinking, “what can he possible say to make this situation go back to hell?” I will copy and paste for you to read what he emailed me (without introducing himself) and my client right after I closed the second SEO deal.

BAD SEO>> Fred, the site is missing keyword meta tags!

My answer?…. Google does not longer use meta tags for ranking since last decade.

I’m not sure about you, but this blows my mind. I have seen the mention of keyword meta tags even on well recognized internet marketing publications sites like Mashable.com. How in havens snakes some “SEO experts” don’t know this? Meta tags are old SEO practices. Last time Google used keywords meta tags was about 10 years ago. (proof: scroll down to watch video from Google explaining  this).

Time spent in this debate about the meta tags: 5 hours
Total of emails answered: 8 (long ones explaining, teaching, case study, and convincing)
Individuals involved: 2 ( between the link building guy, back to my client, back to link guy, and then again  my client–very concern– because the link building guy kept on insisting very eloquently saying he is absolutely right.

Who won? Him..(only temporally though. He got fire two weeks later).
Why? Because I told him the following: You are the link building guy…what’s it to you? Stop telling my client my SEO site is missing meta-tags, that is an old SEO practice!! Heheeh. I lost my patience, sorry. I had to confront him. Was that my job? No!. Did i signed up for this? Absolutely, no.
Result: I looked unprofessional to myself  because… I never asked to be put in this place — a Rebound SEO!

Time to RUN?

At the end of the day: I found an article coming directly from Google itself, backing up what I had said earlier. It reads as follows:

 

Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Recently we received some questions about how Google uses (or more accurately, doesn’t use) the “keywords” meta tag in ranking web search results. Suppose you have two website owners, Alice and Bob. Alice runs a company called AliceCo and Bob runs BobCo. One day while looking at Bob’s site, Alice notices that Bob has copied some of the words that she uses in her “keywords” meta tag. Even more interesting, Bob has added the words “AliceCo” to his “keywords” meta tag. Should Alice be concerned?

At least for Google’s web search results currently (September 2009), the answer is no. Google doesn’t use the “keywords” meta tag in our web search ranking. This video explains more, or see the questions below.

Q: Does Google ever use the “keywords” meta tag in its web search ranking?

A: In a word, no. Google does sell a Google Search Appliance, and that product has the ability to match meta tags, which could include the keywords meta tag. But that’s an enterprise search appliance that is completely separate from our main web search. Our web search (the well-known search at Google.com that hundreds of millions of people use each day) disregards keyword metatags completely. They simply don’t have any effect in our search ranking at present.

Q: Why doesn’t Google use the keywords meta tag?

A: About a decade ago, search engines judged pages only on the content of web pages, not any so-called “off-page” factors such as the links pointing to a web page. In those days, keyword meta tags quickly became an area where someone could stuff often-irrelevant keywords without typical visitors ever seeing those keywords. Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag.

Q: Does this mean that Google ignores all meta tags?

A: No, Google does support several other meta tags. This meta tags page documents more info on several meta tags that we do use. For example, we do sometimes use the “description” meta tag as the text for our search results snippets, as this screenshot shows:

Even though we sometimes use the description meta tag for the snippets we show, we still don’t use the description meta tag in our ranking.

Q: Does this mean that Google will always ignore the keywords meta tag?

A: It’s possible that Google could use this information in the future, but it’s unlikely. Google has ignored the keywords meta tag for years and currently we see no need to change that policy.
Posted by Matt Cutts, Search Quality Team, Google.

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IN CONCLUSION: What a nightmare to be a Rebound SEO. Once a client has been burned, his lack of trust will get in the way.

MY ADVICE: It’s better to fire a client who has turn you into a Rebound SEO. He will only drained you, take up all your time, and at the end, you will lose money instead of marking a profit.

 

Update: March 2016

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Client, Mark Lamantia from scoliosissystems.com/  injured me in December 2009–leaving me with a permanent disability in my neck and back. He did this to me in one of his anger attacks or who knows. My back and neck before that was  strong and perfectly normal and healthy.

Back then, I  tried to proof to myself that I can handle tough clients, and that if I stay professional, any project can prevail.  By Christmas time, the client continue hiring random Social or SEO people, putting them to fight (I think he was enjoying this because he used to laugh).

HOW Mark Lamantia ruined five years of my life?

HOW THIS HAPPENED? By the end of 2009, I was in his office and I made a comment that if he was spending money for my services, why he was spending $800 dollars for a facebook page profile (not to run it– just design it). That is it, and I moved on.

Next thing I know, he came from behind and rob my back. He offered me a adjustment (He is not a chiropractor neither a doctor). Scoliosis Systems only sells braces for teens with scoliosis. Their office is in Manhattan, NY.

I asked him what is was he going to do? He convinced me it was like a massage and I will feel great. I put myself  on a table, which belong to therapist who was renting a room in his small office. With out any warning he cracks my neck and back and sends me to Emergency Room, right after. That was almost 6 years ago. I suffer from tear muscles, and he pinched a nerve in my neck. That same year, I was going to open and run an office in NYC for an SEO agency in Spain. I had to cancelled all those plans, and due to the injuries I wasn’t able to do much work. Lost my last two clients, I stopped using my twitter account. I was just in bed 80% of the time.  He never took responsibility. He actually fired me because I couldn’t work due to the pain and the desirability he caused me, how about that?!. For the next few years, I just focus on not drooping out of college–was getting my MBA. I lost my home, I ended up renting a room. I also had to let go Baruch College, in Manhattan, which was a privilege getting accepted. THey have the same business accreditation Harvard Business School has, and choose another near home. I could not carry heavy books, so I apply for DSS at the school.

I was in denial for  a while, I though it was a temporary injury and I will heal, without insurance in USA you dont get treated. So eventually I came to realized that indeed Mark Lamantia, made me a disable person. On top of that, he made a pass on me, asking me to put one of the bikini batting suits one of the team patience left behind. It was a shock and very unpleasant, but the disability of my neck was the worse offense.

Till this day, I can’t lift heavy items (like a book), or pull open heavy doors because it causes me pain for days (and i have to lay down). I don’t want to go into details because what is the point.

The only point here is that I was naive writing about being an SEO rebound. The client was simply a total jerk. If I can do it again or give an advice to anyone, I will tell you to run. A client with Anger management issues, and control issues who is turning things personal and jut flat out unprofessional, it is time to run… I should have left the moment i saw his erratic behavior.

Side note: I did block him after the first incident. I blocked all my all emials and mobile devices. I forgot to block gmail, and that is how he reach out to me the second time. If only I blocked gmail as well– I wasn’t even using it–and I was a kid in college naive thinking I could learn from the experience. Its one of those things that when you go back in time, you say,” Shot, if I  had only have  blocked him from gmail, too… my neck and back will be healthy, and would be fine today.” The life and experiences I lost.

The upside is that I haven’t gave up. I will continue finding a real doctor or a rehab professional who can fix me.

I guess I will update you a year from now. I hope my I get that fixed and life goes back to where this client from hell left me. I was afraid of him for years, this is why i never talk about it, but I’m not any more.

 PS. I Know this last update is too person, but I had to come out and say something.

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By Mary

Head of Integrated Digital Marketing and International Outreach
Maris Pozo is an Integrated Digital Marketer and member of the American Marketing Association, with over 9 years of experience on the agency side-and has worked with clients such as HP, LATimes, and Monster.com--In bilingual markets in Spain and U.S.

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