Last year I wrote an article titled “10 Signs You’re Buying SEO Snake Oil“. Since I’m into SEO, I thought I’d do a follow up article piggy backing on that article on 8 Sure Signs Your Current SEO Company Sucks.
I get told all the time about how small business owners have been taken advantage of by unethical SEO companies, and frankly it makes me sad that there’s people out there that would risk the livelihood of a hardworking business owner just to make a buck. These same SEO Snake Oil salesmen also make ethical, hardworking SEO companies job that much harder, as they have eroded any trust these business owners may have had in the prospect of real and quality SEO
1) Your SEO Company Talks About How Many Hundreds or Thousands of Links They’re Building For You
The question of whether “link building” is dead in SEO is a hotly debated topic. Many SEO companies still actively pursue link building as a must obtain goal for great rankings. I myself do not believe that link building in the old sense of the term is a viable SEO tactic with changes in Google’s updates and algorithm changes. Instead I like to use the term “link earning”.
A quality SEO company can help a business earn links by putting good quality content out on the web, promoting it, and being creative.
2) They Talk About Directory Submissions, Forum Comments, and Article Submissions
If anyone starts talking about directory submissions, forum comments, or article submissions end the conversation. These types of SEO tactics will surely land you in hot water with the search engines. There was once a point in time, many many years ago that these tactics worked to some degree, but even back then, they were considered borderline unethical.
Anyone that talks about these types of tactics is just going to slap your url into an automated software program to spam the internet.
3) They Promise to Submit Your Website to Hundreds of Websites & Search Engines
Hundreds of websites? Hundreds of search engines? What does this have to do with your business being ranked on the major search engines? What good is it to have your website submitted to websites or search engines no one uses? Quality SEO companies will focus on the major players, for them quality over quantity is the key factor.
4) They Won’t or Can’t Tell You What They’re Doing For Your Business
SEO companies or consultants that can’t (or won’t) tell you what exactly they’re doing to get you search engine rankings are hiding one of two things, either they don’t understand SEO well, or they’re doing it unethically. Don’t be an easy target for an SEO snake oil sales person. Ask questions, and make them answer the questions.
SEO is not a hard concept to explain, and neither are the exercises and tactics that good SEO companies use.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
5) They Tell You They Have Contacts or a Special Relationship With the Search Engines
It still baffles me that some SEO and web advertising people use this line. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing would never risk their reputation by offering preferential treatment to a select few. The organic section at these search engines is nothing more than a learning algorithmic equation.
Good SEO companies help their clients by helping the search engines understand what’s important about their business.
6) They Guarantee First Page Rankings
This is another one that’s hard to believe still exists, and for that matter business owners get suckered into buying. First page rankings, especially those for competitive keywords come by hard work, many times over months – even years, and still that can’t be guaranteed.
Don’t fall for the Guaranteed First Page Rank scheme. More often then not, it’s a scam where an unethical SEO will point a bunch on links to your site, where you’ll see a temporary increase in rankings, until the search engines see the links and you get a manually or algorithmic penalty, or even worse, blacklisted.
7) They Solicit You via Email or Automated Dialer
If you have a website, or a phone, you’ve probably been hit up already many times by companies like this. They promise everything from inexpensive SEO, to Google Maps listings, to inclusion in thousands of directories. The emails will often point out that they were doing some type of research for one of their clients, and came across your website, and out of the goodness of their heart they did an extensive SEO analysis for you. Don’t believe it, it’s just an automated software program that’s sending out hundreds or thousands of emails like this everyday.
Most good SEO companies do not solicit their prospects, if they’re good, they get business by word-of-mouth, and guess what, good SEO on their own website.
8) They Promise to do a lot of Work for a Upfront Flat Fee
This often has one of two unfortunate endings. First ending is that you’ll never see or hear from these people again, as they just pocket the money and run. Second ending is they outsource your SEO efforts to their “Corporate” office, many times which you can’t speak to (because it’s overseas). In the second case, the SEO is most defiantly not going to be quality, and most likely will hurt your website over the long term.
How to Choose a Quality SEO Company
- References, references, references. A SEO companies past performance is a darn good indicator of their future potential. If an SEO company can’t provide you with a few verifiable customers they do business with (and you can see on the web) should you give them your money?
- Ask for referrals from business owners you know. Good SEO companies get most of their business because the companies that do business with them want them to succeed, and stay around. Maybe you own a plumbing company, ever think to ask the auto repair shop that works on your fleet vehicles who they use for their internet advertising? Check your local Chamber of Commerce, do they have anyone they can recommend? What about your vendors? They certainly need to advertise as well.
- Check the SEO company out on the web. Search the company name on Google with terms like “reviews” or “complaints” and read what others have to say about them. Check out their blog, what do they write about? Do their values match yours as a small business owner?