Lots of promises, poor results

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Guest's review of Creare Web Design www.creare.co.uk

★☆☆☆☆

“Lots of promises, poor results”

Written on: 22/07/2013

In March 2012 I contacted Creare to obtain a new website and search engine optimisation (SEO). The reason for seeking a new website company was because my old website company wouldn’t let me take my site elsewhere for SEO enhancement without paying 50% of the design costs again. Out of principle I refused to pay this unethical fee.

I came across Creare by typing the search term ‘SEO’ in Google. Creare were listed number 2 at the time. I figured that the proof was in the pudding and any company good at SEO would be able to get themselves listed highly on the search engines. Creare seemed to be able to demonstrate this. They also seemed ethical and focused on service.

I was initially very impressed with their service. Their sales advisor (Beth Cleminson) was very efficient but not too pushy. The sales manager (Adam Prosser) who visited me was very knowledgable, and helpful in the direction he thought a new website should take. The ultimate reason I chose Creare was that they told me they would build me a website that would give me a return on my investment and that once they got our site and key phrases on to page 1 of Google, that they would keep our website at the top. This persuaded me to proceed and place an order. I do recognise there are no guarantees in SEO but Creare’s sales material and pitches are very clear and persuasive they are one of the biggest web design and SEO companies and that they should be very capable of delivering.

Jarkko Sibenberg, their website designer, built a fantastic site, introduction animation, and later an animated video. Creare were not the cheapest by any means, but I do believe that cheaper isn’t always better (I drive a Saab and use an Apple Mac). You should get what you pay for and better quality when you pay more you would think! So I paid Creare £3000 for a new website which was a bit of a stretch at the time as a young company. I paid them £300 for some new quote forms. I paid them £1500 for an animated video which was later added to the site. I paid over £1200 for Google Adwords pay per click campaign management. I’ve also paid well over £6000 for SEO. All in all, to date Creare have had nearly £15,000 from my company in the last year. 

Up until January 2013 I was very happy. However, things went downhill quickly.

Unfortunately in the last 6 months, things started to go wrong. For the first few months the search engine optimisation was working. Our website visits were increasing month-by-month, and by December 2012 we were listed on page one or the top of page two for most of our main search terms, which was driving extra traffic to the site.

However in January 2013, our Google rankings suddenly dropped like a stone. Some search terms where we were previously positioned on page 1 or 2, were now appearing on page 14 or 15. At one point we had the following search terms at position 3: ‘gas connection, gas connections and gas installation’. We have not got the positions back.

I queried why all the sudden drop in positions and Creare said it was due to Google updates. In the last four months I have complained to them continually to say that we are paying a lot of money and the organic hits to the website are not increasing as I would expect. Surely after such a large investment and hundreds of pages on the site, it is not unreasonable to expect significant gains in visitors after 12 months. I would have expected an accelerating curve but alas this has not happened. On top of this, my staff and I have written vast amounts of content for the news feed on our site, something which is supposed to help Google rankings greatly (there are 150 news articles on our site today (10th July 2013). They’ve continually said ‘content is king’. In their own words they also said: ‘You are so keen on writing [content] and do it so well’. But it doesn’t seemed to have helped us. All Creare have done recently is blame Google rather than consider if it’s something they are doing which is causing the problems.

I have become exasperated by Creare. Their stories about lack of SEO results seem contradictory. On one hand they told me that I wasn’t paying enough money to get more results more quickly, but then they told me that too much SEO work too quickly would be detrimental and that our site would be ‘sand boxed’ by Google. On another hand, they told me that their own organic hits were going up even though their own website went from position 2 to approximately 108 more recently (searching for the term ‘SEO’). I find that hard to believe. They seem to blame Google for poor performance saying at lot of sites had gone down the rankings. This is a ‘cop out’ in my opinion. For every site that goes down Google, another site goes up… surely!

In all honesty, I’ve started to doubt Creare’s SEO ability because they appear to be unable to explain what is going wrong and how to fix it. They advised that they had prevented our website losing even more organic hits than we would have done as a result of the Google updates, but I’ve started to consider the possibility that their SEO techniques may have lost us many of the keyword positions in the first place and that their arguments are self defeating.

To add insult to injury, communication with their company and even the Director has shown a rather defensive and unsympathetic approach. I feel that my requests for extra organic traffic, something which I have been paying good money for (up to £15,000), and that they said they should be able to deliver as one of the UK’s biggest providers of SEO are unreasonable in their eyes. They have been unable to clearly tell me what has gone wrong and how they propose to fix things, time after time. They also mention their other ‘hundreds of happy clients’ yet fail to understand that I have been a good customer and they have failed to keep their promises. I made a buying decision based on what they have told me and also recommended at least two other companies to use their services.

The icing on the cake was being told by their Director it would be best if we went elsewhere if we didn’t like what we were getting and what they said they would give us. When subsequently requesting a refund due to cancellation, the director said any further communication would be handled by their lawyer. It’s left a bitter taste in my mouth and I’m shocked at being treated in such a derogatory manner. The customer definitely does not come first in my view.

All in all, they built us a great website, but ultimately a great looking website is no good without the visitors to go with it. I feel Creare have failed to deliver on the SEO work they promised us and I leave Creare feeling let down and very disappointed. Their customer service has been poor.

I do not recommend Creare.

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