Ignorance is Bliss. Unless you’re hiring a website design & development company to do SEO.

In case you haven’t noticed it, the world of SEO has significantly changed. What was once easy is now hard. It takes technology, people and highly sophisticated analytics driven by well-coded software to do the job right.

But, that hasn’t stopped thousands of website design & development companies from proclaiming their capabilities with SEO. It also hasn’t stopped thousands of their customers from believing they’re getting SEO services when, in fact, they are receiving nothing or very close to it.

In Portsmouth NH, where our U.S. offices are located, we’ve found several website design & development companies in the area proclaiming their expertise at SEO but actually having no expertise at all.

How do we know? We ran some analytics on their own websites to see if they are practicing the SEO techniques they claim to be doing for their clients. The techniques we looked for were just the very basics and something any company claiming to do SEO should be able to do. Think of it as the equivalent of an electrician changing a light bulb.

What we looked for:

Meta Tags: A Meta tag offers a short description of the page it’s on. Google and many other search engines look for these tags (which are invisible to people). It’s one of the most basic elements to doing SEO

Google Page Rank: Named in honor of Google co-founder Larry Page, the Page Rank is a measure of the relative popularity of a site, ranging from a rank of to a rank of ten (which means you’re one of the dozen top sites on the entire Internet). If you’re a good website design & development company that does SEO (and you don’t play games with linking) you should have a page rank of at least three.

DMOZ Directory Listing: This directory listing is critical because Google and other search engines use it as all or part of their search engine directory listings. If a website is not listed in DMOZ, SEO is severely hampered.

Unique inbound links: Having in bound links to your site from other relevant, high-quality sites are key to moving up on the search pages. The key is their relevancy. In the past, companies got ranked hiring using a technique called link farming, wherein many thousands of inbound links could be bought and sprinkled into sites. Do it now and Google will de-rank or even delist you.

Success for Keywords chosen: A website design & development company that touts their ability at SEO should be able to choose their own keywords and then move themselves up in rankings on search engines. This is the ultimate test for any SEO savvy company.

Our results
So there you have it. FIve simple and very basic requirements for doing SEO. We looked to see where three New England based website design & development companies stood when it came to meeting the basic requirements.

When it came to Meta tags two website design & development companies met this requirement. Shockingly, one website design & development company had none at all. It’s kind of like being a photographer shooting without film or a flash drive in the camera. Or, perhaps, a guitar player with a guitar but no strings.

As for Page Rank, one company had a five which is great, another had a four which is good too. The same company that had no meta tags also had a big fat zero when it came to Page Rank.

One website design & development company had 45,000 inbound links. Another had an unbelievable 75,000 inbound links, while the one with a zero page rank and no Meta tags had—you guessed it–no links at all. While inbound links are good, it is virtually impossible to get tens of thousands of inbound links legitimately. Google agrees, so they have, no doubt de-ranked or de-listed the companies with 45,000 and 75,000 links.

The biggest shocker came when we analyzed the keywords each of these website design and development companies had chosen to rank for on Google. All three had chosen 10-15 keywords. What was astounding is that not one company had a single keyword that ranked above page 100 on Google. The bottom line is that ranking well for keywords is the ultimate goal for any company hiring a website design & development company to do SEO. These companies are clearly incapable of doing SEO work, yet they are constantly hired and paid to do what, in the end, amounts to nothing.