Web Certain

One of my main beliefs in SEO is that you should always get the basics right first and then move on to the more advanced SEO techniques.

It's really not that hard to make sure you don't have any broken links on your website, that all your pages load and that you remove any test files you may have uploaded.

If an SEO company cannot get their own website in order how are they going to manage yours?

Web Certain
I was taking a look at the Web Certain website and found a link in their site map to a file called test5.html, but when I clicked on the link I was given an error page. The funny thing was that the error page contained their site map which includes the link to test5.html!

Web Certain Test
Deciding to look a little more into this, I found a total of 10 pages that are all linked to but either don't exist or serve an error page:


Web Certain Error
This is a joke, an SEO company who claim to offer a "greater range of service from one team anywhere in the world" they can't even keep their own website in check!

SEO Experts?

I am always surprised when an SEO company's website is not fully optimised, has broken links or is just plain rubbish. It's unacceptable it really is, and the number of websites out there that fit this description is way too high. SEO is a highly technical and skilled talent to have and it has to be learnt, practiced and perfected over years of hard work. I think there are too many companies out there claiming to be "SEO Experts" when they are clearly not.

Over the next few posts I'm going to try and flag up some basic and obvious errors made by SEO companies.

Little Big Voice Have No Idea About Robots.txt Files

I was just checking out the Little Big Voice site again after my previous post and found that the site is not indexed in Google at all. Not one page!

Thinking that this was a little strange I had a look at their robots.txt file and found the following:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /*?
Disallow: /
Disallow: /*.php
Disallow: /?N=A
Disallow: /cgi/
Disallow: /stats/
Disallow: /templates/
Disallow: /?*

The line in bold above is the culprit! "Disallow: /" tells the search engine crawlers that they should not visit any pages on the site.

Now, what would the reason for this be? I don't think this was done on purpose. It looks to me like a costly error! The robots.txt file was last edited on 9th August 2008 at 17:59:10 so it looks like it has been like this for over a month. You would think that they would notice that their site is no longer indexed! To find out the date a static page was last edited, type the following into your browser's address bar while on the page you're interested in:


Checking in Yahoo shows that the site is still indexed, this highlights the fact that Yahoo is a lot slower than Google at crawling and updating their index (or it may show that Yahoo do not follow the robots.txt protocol!).

Yahoo Site Explorer also shows a number of pages that have been indexed at some point in the past and have now been removed from the site but Yahoo are still showing them in their index:


Most of these are showing a 404, but the real question is what are they? Why were they indexed in the first place. It looks like another site was indexed on the www.littlebigvoice.com domain.

All round some pretty Bad SEO from Little Big Voice once again!

I Spy Search Marketing - Their Reply

So, I received an email from Nick Jones, a Director at I Spy Search last Friday 27th June. I have included it below for your viewing pleasure.

Thanks for your email Nick and thanks for the job offer but I'll politely decline at this point in time.


One of our SEOs Jon (cc’d here) flagged up the review of our website on your site at the moment.

As you’ve picked up - its in need of some pretty significant improvement.

In all honesty we’ve been too focused on trying to "crack in to the big time" with our clients to have spent any time at all on optimizing and improving our website.

Having grown from 4 to 25 people in the last 18 months (45 clients) I’d say we’re doing a pretty decent job. It’s a shame you couldn’t review some of the work we’ve done for clients!

Just to clear one thing up - Hatch designed our website, that’s the limit of their involvement.

You’ll be pleased to know we now have some time and resource to sort the website out so expect to see some big changes and improvements over the next 8 weeks. We’ve been painfully aware for some time of the issues you’ve flagged and are looking forward to having a site to be proud of.

The one immediate change we have made is to sort out the spelling of Chris’ name – a shocker – thanks for pointing that out.

Frustratingly we use Google alerts for all clients where we help monitor reputation online – looks like we need to start doing this for ourselves asap.

Fancy a job? Our SEO team has trebled in size this year and we’re always on the look out for bright people.

Feel free to post this mail if you like.



Nick Jones – Director

I SPY SEARCH | 2nd Floor | London House | 54 Haymarket | London SW1Y 4RP
T: 020 7968 2074 | M: 07890 918 360 | F: 020 3272 0187

Website: www.ispysearch.com


SeatwaveI was checking out the Seatwave site the other day, www.seatwave.com, I have used them before to buy tickets to a gig and wasn't very impressed with their service. Yes, I got tickets to the concert, and yes, I enjoyed it. But, I paid a lot for the tickets and the service was pretty bad, tickets not mailed out to me, customer service couldn't help, slow responding to emails. In the end I had to go and pick the tickets up from their offices before the show, not the ideal situation.

Anyway, so I was looking around the site and thought that their SEO looked pretty average, especially for a venture capital backed company with £36M behind them! £36,000,000 is a lot of money, and for them not to be pouring some of that in to SEO really surprised me! They've got quite a lot of competition, with www.viagogo.com, who have also received a lot of funding, at least £50M.

I thought I'd take a look at their robots.txt file. I found nothing out of the ordinary in the first few lines:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /feeds/
Disallow: /WebUserControls/
Disallow: /tickets/buy/
Disallow: /admin/
Disallow: /err01.aspx

but reading the next few lines, I started to laugh!

Disallow: /msn.seatwave.com/
Disallow: /virginmedia.seatwave.com/
Disallow: /dev.seatwave.com/
Disallow: /stage.seatwave.com/
Disallow: /stage-en.seatwave.com/
Disallow: /stage-de.seatwave.com/
Disallow: /stage-nl.seatwave.com/
Disallow: /stage-es.seatwave.com/
Disallow: /stage-it.seatwave.com/
Disallow: /stage-se.seatwave.com/
Disallow: /stage-fr.seatwave.com/
Disallow: /abendblatt.seatwave.de/

Looking at the above lines in Seatwave's robots.txt file, you can see what they were 'trying' to do. The last twelve entries in their robots.txt file are subdomains, e.g.:


and they are trying to exclude these from being indexed by using the robots.txt file on www.seatwave.com.

Nice try!

This got me thinking, "Who does their SEO?". So a quick Google search and according to PR Leap it looks like buy.at won their affiliate marketing, but nothing about their SEO or PPC. So now I'm thinking that maybe they do it in-house, or maybe it's been outsourced quietly.

Checking their Jobs page, I found they are recruiting at the moment for a Search Marketing Manager! and from the sound of the job description, they don't have anyone specifically doing the SEO at present.

Listen guys, if you're still looking when you read this then drop me an email on BadSEO (at) gmail (dot) com

Update - 24/06/2008: I received an email from James Hamlin (Seatwave's Online Marketing Director) less than 12 hours after I posted this article! Great response time James! It really is surprising how many companies don't monitor their company and brand names! It's good to see that Seatwave do! I love your video too!

I Spy Search Marketing

I Spy Search are a relatively new player amongst the big names of UK search marketing agencies. Having been around for about 2 years they have yet to really crack in to the big time.

I was taking a look at their website recently and found a few things which I'll describe below:

  1. The CEO of I Spy cannot spell his own name
    The CEO of I Spy Search is Christopher Whitelaw, but according to I Spy's contact page, his name is spelled "Chirstopher Whitelaw"

    I Spy CEO Chirstopher Whitelaw
    Upon looking in to this in a little more depth I found that this has been the case for at least the last year.

    You might assume from this that:
    a) There are no users using the site, or
    b) The users using the site aren't very observant, or
    c) No one from I Spy checks their own website, or
    d) Chris Whitelaw doesn't use the site, isn't very observant and can't spell, or
    e) All of the above

    You'll also notice in the above screen capture the small blue line above I Spy's logo. This is actually an erroneous &nbsp that has been included in the logo div. This is actually on quite a few of their pages and again shows their lack of attention to detail.

  2. I Spy Search News & Search Engine
    I've always believed that if you are going to do something, then do it properly. If you are not going to do it properly, then do not do it at all.
    It looks like I Spy decided to start publishing Search News, they had the new site designed with the functionality for a news feed, then decided not to do it.
    Instead of removing the code, that enabled them to do this and removing the files off their live server, they commented out the links (using HTML comments) to the Search News page and left the files sitting on the server. You'll see a screen capture of the Search News page below:

    I Spy Search News
    Good old Lorem Ipsum!

    It also looks like I Spy have developed their own Search Engine, or maybe they are still in the process of developing it, that's why the link is still commented out and the content is again Lorem Ipsum.

    Either way, I'd love to see it and give it a test run!

    Both pages are linked to from the left navigation and are both commented out:

    - http://www.ispysearch.com/searchnews.html
    - http://www.ispysearch.com/searchengine.html

    Both pages also have Google Analytics installed, which, if it was being used correctly, should have flagged up the fact that these 2 pages existed. The version of Google Analytics installed is also the old code.

  3. Screen Captures
    Have a close look at the following pages:

    - http://www.ispysearch.com/naturalsearch.html
    - http://www.ispysearch.com/paidsearch.html

    Better still, have a close look at the following screen captures:

    - http://www.ispysearch.com/images/google2.jpg

    I Spy Google Screen Capture 1
    - http://www.ispysearch.com/images/google3.jpg

    I Spy Google Screen Capture 2Notice anything? A few things here:

    1. Email Address
      You can quite easily make out the email address of the Google Account of the person who took these screen captures. Big mistake!

    2. Other Items
      Again you can quite easily make out the user's links and tabs and see what they are looking at. This can be quite dangerous, as you can often give away too much, and give away things you don't want anyone else to see.

    3. Cutting Remarks - A Question of Hair, Make-up & Beauty
      Looking closely you can see one of the other tabs open in the browser is for a website with the title "A Question of Hair, Make-up & Beauty". A quick Google search and we can find out that this belongs to a website called Cutting Remarks. Nothing special here, might be a client of I Spy, might be nothing, but on closer inspection of this web page I found a link at the bottom with the following anchor text "Website Design, Online Marketing And Search Engine Optimisation By Hatch".

      Search Engine Optimisation By Hatch
      Hatch was interestingly enough one of the open tabs shown in the above screen capture! Now I got interested, so I checked out Hatch.

    4. Hatch
      Hatch have a number of websites:
      - http://www.hatchpartners.co.uk/
      - http://www.hatchfirst.com/
      - http://www.searchengineoptimise.me.uk/

      Looking at all 3 websites their SEO is not great, for example, http://www.hatchpartners.co.uk/ has a Meta Refresh to http://www.hatchfirst.com/.

      But the most interesting thing is on Hatch's Clients page:

      Hatch's Clients
      Now I'm wondering exactly what Hatch do for I Spy? Did they design their website? Do they do their SEO too?!?!

      One thing is for sure, neither the folks at Hatch or the guys at I Spy can list "attention to detail" among their qualities!
I wonder if I Spy are undertaking any online brand monitoring? If so I expect these aforementioned issues to be corrected and rectified quite quickly. Let's see how long it takes!

Update - 25/06/2008: It's now 25th June, over 2 weeks since this post was made and no sign that I Spy have even read this post, let alone updated and corrected their site. I'm guessing they don't even have a Google Alert set up for their company name.

Update - 01/07/2008: I received an email from Nick Jones, a Director at I Spy Search in response to this post, which I have posted here: http://badseo.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-spy-search-their-reply.html

Little Big Voice: Something Smells Fishy!

Today I found 2 SEO agencies using the same graphics. Not ground breaking news I know, but when you're just starting out as a Search Agency the last thing you want to be accused of is ripping off someone else's website.

The 2 websites are:

www.firstfound.co.uk and www.littlebigvoice.com.

If you have a look at the FirstFound homepage, you'll see it looks something like this:

First Found

Now, compare that to the Search Engine Marketing page on Little Big Voice:

Little Big Voice

You've spotted it! Something smells a little fishy there.

FirstFound have been around for a while but Little Big Voice have only been around for less than a year, so I'm guessing it's Little Big Voice who have been doing the copying! But as they say, "Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery"!

On the About Little Big Voice page it names Paul Keene as founder of Little Big Voice. Doing a quick Google search for Paul Keene brought me to his personal blog, www.paulkeene.com. He's got a nice link back to Little Big Voice from his About Me page with the anchor text "Search Engine Optimisation", now click the Photos 07 link. IT'S BROKEN. That's great SEO.

Looking closer at the site you'll see that the homepage redirects to http://www.paulkeene.com/Paul%27s%20Site/Welcome.html check the method of this redirection and you'll soon discover that it is a Meta Refresh!!

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0;url=Paul%27s%20Site/Welcome.html" />

Awesome SEO from the founder of Little Big Voice, Paul Keene! NOT.

Quoting from the Little Big Voice site: "Paul Keene, founder of Little Big Voice has been working in the field of search engine optimisation since 1998...Building on the lessons of those lean times and the streetwise kind of expertise that came with it, he has worked hard to become one of the most web-savvy operators..."


Tamar Paid Linking

I came across some of Tamar's work recently and was surprised at how obvious their paid linking was! Tamar have a reputation for being prolific link buyers and not for their technical knowledge.

There were a few things that caught my eye.

1) The fact that they are linking to 5 of their clients at a time from the one site.
2) That some of their links are going to the wrong URLs.
3) That they use the same link blocks more than once.

Tamer Paid LinkingThe image on the right is a screen capture taken from one of the websites Tamar uses for their paid linking. As you can see they are linking to the following clients:

1) B&Q - www.diy.com
2) Direct Line - www.directline.com
3) Tesco Personal Finance - www.tescofinance.com
4) Hillarys - www.hillarys.co.uk
5) Empire Stores - www.empirestores.co.uk

If you look closely at the Tesco Personal Finance link the URL is:

If you follow this link you get the following message:

Sorry, this page has now moved to Discount mortgages.

So the page has moved location but Tamar are still buying links for the old page! And just as alarming is that the old page hasn't been redirected to the new page.

Looking at some of the other links we see that they are all from low quality blogs, a lot of them on the Blogger platform, a lot of them written by stay at home mums, and the same text has been used for over 300 links for each company.

"From Conservatories to Wind Turbines" - Google Search

"Every little helps with Tesco Discount Mortgages" - Google Search

"Get a Home Insurance quote from Direct Line in the UK" - Google Search

For such a high profile search agency, and such high profile clients I expect a higher standard of work.

Welcome to the Bad SEO Blog

Hi there and welcome to my blog about SEO, especially BAD SEO. I'll be posting (regularly I hope!) about SEO Companies, Media Agencies and their work that just isn't up to scratch.

I am a London based SEO and have had enough of cowboys claiming to be ethical, professional and 'SEO experts' when they clearly aren't, so thought I'd take the time to point out their mistakes.

I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that this is my personal blog. The views and opinions expressed within the pages of this blog are mine alone and not those of my employer.

So now I've got that disclaimer out of the way, let's get started!