It can make a lot of sense to hire a SEO company to help you increase your search rankings. However, it can sometimes be very difficult to determine if your money will be wisely spent on an effective SEO campaign or will be used to buy yourself a big dose of SEO Snakeoil.
These days, anyone can start up a site offering SEO services, so what warning signs should you look for to ensure you don’t end up wasting your money, and more importantly harming the ranking of your site?
No reputable SEO company can offer an unqualified guarantee that will get number 1 rankings for your chosen keywords.
The old adage “if it seems to good to be true…..”, definitely applies here.
Below is what Google has to say about guaranteed rankings.
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.
Now, I’m not saying that all SEO guarantees are worthless.
If a SEO company offers a guarantee of rankings, make sure you read all the fine print. You’ll most likely find that they have a qualified guarantee with items such as:
- Improved rankings, but no guarantee it will be on page one.
- Exclusion of certain keywords like “car insurance” that are extremely competitive.
- No guarantee that the improved rankings will last due to the changeable nature of SEO.
2Undisclosed SEO Methods
While it is unreasonable to expect a SEO company to fully disclose their methods, if they won’t give you any information as to what processes they will employ, then that is a warning sign that they probably use unreliable SEO techniques.
In a lot of cases, SEO companies will simply outsource their SEO jobs to dubious SEO companies that are very cheap, and the results will certainly reflect that.
I’ve seen instances of SEO companies that charge a premium and then simply use a whole bunch of Fiverr SEO gigs that will create a blast of very low quality backlinks.
A reputable SEO Company should be able to provide you with an outline of their SEO campaign. For example:
- Analysis of on-page SEO of the target website (content, internal linking structure, keyword structure, navigation etc)
- Keyword research to avoid common mistakes from the onset.
- Creation of web 2.0 accounts, eg: YouTube, Blogger, Twitter, Facebook etc.
- Publishing schedule for each of the web 2.0 accounts.
- Social bookmarking
- Tier 2 content
Beware of any description that mentions automatic submission, as that’s generally a sign that they plan on using software to blast out lots of low quality backlinks.
3Lack of Reporting
If you are spending a lot of money on a SEO campaign, you want to ensure you are getting value for your money.
It is essential that the SEO company you use has regular progress reports as part of their SEO package.
The two essential elements that should be included are:
- Report stating what SEO work has been done and what SEO work will be done in the next period (fortnightly or monthly).
- A ranking report for each of the keywords that you are targeting.
It is a good idea to independently check your rankings as a safety measure so that you have a second opinion as to how well your rankings for your chosen keywords are performing.
4No History or Ranking Examples
Just like any other service you may use in your everyday life, it helps if you have some knowledge and assurance that the company has a good track record.
If a SEO company can’t offer any examples of websites/companies they have helped improved their rankings, then be very cautious about entrusting them with your business.
If possible, contact the business they have cited to check if the claims of the SEO company are valid or not.
Also keep in mind that some keywords are very easy to rank for, so if a SEO company is claiming they have ranked company “X” number 1 for keywords “A”, “B” and “C”, where the keywords are long tail keywords and/or keywords with little competition, then ask if they have ranked any sites with highly competitive keywords.
The Bottom Line
Remember that if you employ specific services for your business, then you are ultimately responsible for the outcome of your decision.
Engaging SEO services should not be taken lightly as it can severely harm your rankings if you choose unwisely.
If your website relies exclusively on organic traffic, this can have a huge impact on the income your site generates.
If you’ve come across any other warning signs or experiences with bad SEO services, please leave a comment below.