I chose Mindshark Marketing for SEO services because of their professional looking email advertisements.
I should have known not to go forward with this company from the beginning when I had to point out to the account rep that her phone number in the footer of her email was missing a digit. The 2nd clue was when the information questionnaire she sent me was in an unreadable format (win.dat). I had to use a special program to extract the file. Once I was able to get to the file, I learned it was in Excel format (who uses Excel anymore?) which made it very difficult to fill out, save and send back. It would have been much more professional if it were in a fill-able PDF format. Anyway, these were just some small clues that should have been a warning to me of things to come.
So, I signed the contract (for $339 per month) on July 31st, 2012 and was told that they would start analyzing and choosing keywords for my campaign the following week. About a week later, I received an email response recommending keywords. It was apparent that nobody did any keyword analysis. They recommended about 10 keywords that included my core service plus the county (for example: Plumbing Suffolk County). The problem is that in my area, nobody searches by county. If they had done a keyword analysis, they would have known that. And, if I had approved them, it would have ruined my search results.
Each time I brought this up, they responded with a different set of keywords, some of them totally unrelated to my service business. It was like they had no idea about SEO at all. I had to explain to them that the keywords they chose were not related to my business or that they were so broad that they were bringing up companies from all over the country. I am a local service business. Even after my service rep agreed that the words she chose were unrelated, she still recommended more unrelated key words. At that point, I was fed up and asked to cancel the service and get a refund.
Instead of granting my cancellation request, they promised to fix things. After we finally agreed on appropriate keywords, they supposedly began work. By the end of August, still nothing had been done. They were supposed to have set up Google Analytics on my site, but it was never done. They were supposed to provide backlinks. They were supposed to submit articles. They were supposed to have provided updates on the work they completed via a web portal. Every time I went to check it out, it said "no updates yet". Basically they had done nothing in 3-4 weeks.
Finally, on August 27th, I demanded cancellation and a refund again. Not only did they not respond but they charged me a 2nd month for $339. I emailed them to ask them what happened and they said that I had to give them 20 days notice.
I hope that my credit card company can get me my money back!