Ash Nallawalla's blog

Indian SEO Companies

Ash Nallawalla

15 September 2007

SEO

An unfortunate spat has unfolded between NYC-based SEO company MrSEO and Pandia, on account of this article: On outsourcing search engine optimization to India. Pandia is sponsored by eBrandz, as mentioned in the article, a point that seems to have provoked this unusual, generalised commentary on Indian SEO.

Writes Alan:

“If you want paraphrased, stolen content; spammy, outdated linkbuilding methods or cookie cutter solutions to your site’s unique problems, you’re probably better off with an SEO firm from India.”

I agree with Alan only up to a point and I would not generalise so strongly. In any country, including mine, there are many individuals who claim to be SEOs. Most of them appear to believe their own marketing collateral. I recently helped a travel website who had paid an Australian company for “SEO work” that included incorporating licensed content from Lonely Planet. Perfectly legal, perfectly rendered — and a perfect duplicate of the original text. Guess what? The travel site ranks nowhere for its desired keyphrases — no thanks to the so-called SEO who should have pointed out the fundamental flaw in that tactic.

SEO outsourcing is not the sole monopoly of India and if I examined, say, Egyptian or Russian SEO sites I am sure I could find something to criticise.

You can find bad SEOs in any country and the problem is exacerbated by the nature of the beast — there is no generally accepted measure of “good SEO” and there is relatively little authoritative training material. If you are going to the Webmasterworld conference in December, you might hear a thousand, overlapping opinions on what good SEO means. Incidentally, I am speaking about SEO101, sharing the podium with Bruce Clay and Bill Slawski.

Although there are many Indian English writers with impeccable writing skills, they are not in the SEO writing business. I know just one excellent India-based writer who is in the content writing game and there seem to be quite a few at Chilli Breeze, but the latter don’t come cheap. SEOs in general tend to have a web developer or web design background and have “picked up” SEO along the way.

I have outsourced some content writing and linking work to a few Indian SEO companies including eBrandz in Mumbai, whose offices I have visited. I know exactly what I need to be done, so I get quality work. Some of these companies manage the SEO and PPC work for major European and US companies and I can only assume that their clients are happy. Some of them work for US and Australian SEO companies, so many customers never know where some of the SEO work is done.

I believe that some US SEOs are pricing themselves out of the market — some “experts” charge US$500/hour — great if you can get it, but this could be driving some customers to seek cheaper options offshore. In my hands-on SEO days I picked up a lot of US and UK customers because Australian SEO pricing is in-between Indian and US/UK pricing and the time difference and language differences aren’t too severe.

Let’s see how this topic unfolds.

Ash Nallawalla

Search strategist experienced in large, complex websites. Ash's Google+ profile

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5 Comments

  • Alan on 15 September 2007

    Ash,

    You’re right on the money in regard to finding a percentage of bad SEO providers in any country offering it. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that India is the only country providing bad SEO, just that I’ve run across an exorbanent amount of Indian SEO providers who want to offer the service with little understanding of what even basic SEO entails. That doesn’t belie the fact that there are undoubtedly some Indian SEO’s who do exceptional work, which is something I should have made clear in my initial commentary on Pandia’s article.

    The problem with a market saturated with incompetent SEO providers, whether abroad or regionally, is that it hurts the industry as a whole. As noted by Mr-SEO in an August post entitled “Perfect Example of Why SEO’s Get a Bad Rap”, there are US companies offering services with little or no value to uneducated business owners here as well. I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the SEO’s in question as well as the businesses themselves. In the grand scheme of things, SEO is relatively new, but not so new that the fundamentals behind it should remain a mystery to web based businesses.

    My issue with Pandia stems from the fact that they quoted their sponsor regarding a supposed apples to apples comparison of SEO services without at least examining the quality of those services. To business owners reading their post, it appears as “Our automobiles are cheaper than their automobiles”. Never mind that the cheaper automobile may be a Hyundai while the more expensive one a Rolls Royce. I’m not suggesting that’s the case in regard to the quality of service between any Indian SEO firm and any American SEO firm, just that SEO from one company to the next is often apples to oranges and can’t simply be valued by price alone.

    In terms of price, many American SEO’s are pricing themselves out of the market. In some cases, it’s greed. In others, the market dictates pricing. As I mentioned in our last podcast, we’ve lost work with larger corporations in the past due to coming in too low on our bids. It’s rarely a problem with the small to mid-sized business owner or company, but at the enterprise level, being too low can send up a red flag. I’ve never understood that line of thinking and we refuse to overprice our services to compete at that level, but it does happen.

    On the whole, I think the issue of bad SEO, whether in India, the US or Kerblakistan, will be solved by competition. As businesses become more aware of SEO, the ability for unknowledgeable SEO firms to compete will be lessened. Unfortunately, as I said, they have a damaging affect on our industry in the meantime.

    For anyone offended by my comments regarding linguistic abilities, my intent wasn’t to offend anyone. As I stated in my initial commentary, I’m part owner of a business that imports from China to the US. I handle the US side of the business and leave the China side to those who can effectively communicate there. If I had rudimentary skills in Mandarin or Cantonese, I might be tempted to spread my involvement to the mainland or Hong Kong because of the nature of the business, which involves only buying and selling and no marketing whatsoever. If, on the other hand, I had limited Mandarin or Cantonese linguistic skills and the business centered around marketing products to native speakers of that language, I wouldn’t dream of involving myself until my skills were on par with what’s necessary to do the job effectively. In other words, you won’t find me offering SEO in Germany because I can’t speak German terribly well. I can get by when traveling, hold a conversation and get directions, but that doesn’t mean I’m qualified to write web pages for German websites. There are some Indian English speakers who have exceptional skills with the language, and I congratulate them on their abilities. If they can do the job and are willing to do it for less, they deserve every bit of the business they get. For those, however, who can’t do the job, speak rudimentary English, know next to nothing about SEO and are simply relying on a lack of understanding on the part of business owners, I take issue with their presence in the industry just as I take issue with the same type of individual or firm in the US.

    The white elephant in the room that no one seems to want to touch is that these individuals or firms are more often than not from India. For every ridiculously unknowledgeable US company that contacts us for optimization services in order to sell “SEO” to unwary businesses, there are ten from India. I wish that were an exaggeration, but it’s not. What’s especially disconcerting is that these companies indirectly ask us to help them defraud other businesses and soil the reputation of our industry as a whole. It’s the equivalent of someone opening a child care facility with no knowledge of child care whatsoever, then attempting to pay a reputable child care provider for the buzzwords they use to advertise their services.

    In other words, it stinks, and I don’t have problem pointing out that it stinks any more than I have a problem acknowledging where the majority of the offending odor is coming from. Competent Indian SEO’s and SEO firms shouldn’t be put off by that. In a free market system, those who do the best work for the best price will generally find their way to success, regardless of where they originate from. Additionally, the actions of those from India who offer bad SEO hurt the reputation and limit the business opportunities of legitimate Indian SEO’s and firms far more than they ever will me. It’s a problem that needs to be discussed openly, and acting like it isn’t a problem to save face or be politically correct won’t make the problem go away.

  • Outsourcing SEO to India on 17 September 2007

    […] to pandia.com’s article on ebrandz unnecessarily, and seems to be generalizing here at netmagellan.com. I now throw up an open challenge to him… and wish to share the stage with him for a debate […]

  • Ezhil Raja on 27 September 2007

    Look @ this http://www.mr-seo.com/SEO-case-study.html seems that there is nothing to study about 👿

  • SEOinHood on 20 October 2007

    Ash:

    Well said, Crisp and On-Face. SEO now has been less of Theoretical Knowledge based on Search Engines and more of particular proven practices & techniques that SEOs’ love to keep in with their traditional work style. SEO experts and their clients LACK PATIENCE what’s required in achieving in RESULTS. To be frank every other SEO in Industry is good and should be respected coz everyone means BUSINESS.

    Advice to SEOs’ – PLEASE treat every client website & business as YOURS – with determination and you would sure see results. I MEAN IT!!!

    Ash, I know ChilliBreeze guys personally, they are one of the best content companies. Every penny spend would be WORTH.

    -SEOinHOOD

  • Empowered SEO on 22 January 2008

    Ash: I truly support your views.

    We at empowered seo (http://www.empoweredseo.com) started and have been running operations primarily for US clients for over 6 years now. We have offices in India where majority of work has been done on SEO front.

    We have good guidelines and follow white hat techniques and all our clients are happy.

    It is quality of work that counts and you cannot generalize it to a nation.

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