It’s safe to say that as far as mistrust goes within an industry, then the SEO one must rank pretty highly. The amount of horror stories we hear are constantly on the up “my old SEO company were on a retainer and said that if I left them all my rankings would drop”, “I never really saw what they did, they told me that disclosing their methods could mean competitors overtake me”., “I got a monthly report with a big long list of articles they’d submitted to various sites”
So how do you separate the good SEO’s from the cowboys? The ones who’ll add value to your business, rather than spend $100 dollars of their £500 retainer on outsourcing link building to India. It’s a tough one, and is quite difficult for business owners to know the difference – unless they have a good knowledge of SEO.
And then you have to consider that there are so many SEO companies out there, which makes it even more difficult. There isn’t a marketing, web design or print company that hasn’t got on trend and dedicated a page to SEO services on their website. The problem here is very few of them actually know how to do it, it’s just a case of jumping on the bandwagon.
Now we’ve read numerous articles suggesting what kind of questions you should ask a potential SEO partner – “what type of links will you be building?” “Do you use black hat techniques?” to name but a few.
These questions are all well and good, but if you have no prior knowledge of SEO (like the majority of business owners/key stakeholders) then ultimately they’re going to be asking questions without a clear idea of what the right answer will be. Coupled with the fact that SEO companies employ strong sales people who know how to say the right things means it’s even harder not to get missold SEO.
With all that in mind, we’ve put together a little list of the 10 signals that if you see them, in all honestly mean they’re probably not the SEO company for you. Because in the words of the Lord Sugar – they haven’t got a bloody clue.
As the good old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is – we’ve recently seen offers like “£200 for any keyword, first page ranking or your money back” – the fact is, this kind offer is way to good to be true, and is so far and away from being realistic.
Now having confidence in your SEO ability is a must, but taking it to the point of offering a paid on results service usually sets alarm bells ringing for us. If you think about it, the company you hire is practically working for free until you achieve whatever the agreed result is. (Usually a ranking). Paid on results to us, states a company is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve a ranking, and because they want it to happen quickly so they get paid quicker, they’re going to take shortcuts and build links in a spammy way. We can see how this one appeals to business owners, as it lowers the risk somewhat, however, from our perspective it actually does the opposite – you may see a quick gain, pay the cash once the milestone has been hit, and then everything drops off a cliff. But what happens after that? You’re in a far worse position that the one you started in.
Again, the minute we see this it instantly set alarm bells ringing – when you pay an SEO company to handle your SEO, you’re effectively paying for their time. So how can any reputable company offer a money back guarantee on a service that by it’s very nature can’t be guaranteed. AVOID.
The very nature of search engine optimisation means it’s impossible to ever give a ranking guarantee. The fact Google outlines this in their Webmaster Help Section should be proof enough that guarantees aren’t possible. Yet still SEO companies offer this, and customers still fall for it. Of course, guarantees sound attractive, but customers need to realise that guaranteeing something that can’t be guaranteed is a total lie. Think of it like the weather forecast, the forecasters, like good SEO’s have all the tools and know-how to make informed predictions but they’d be stupid to guarantee something that is ultimately out of their hands.
No business is the same, and when it comes to SEO it’s not a one size fits all approach that works. So if you see companies offering SEO in the form of pre-built packages that involve things like “600 article submissions”, “25 High PR backlinks” then it’s a sure fire sign that you’d be letting your site get into pure spam territory. Quantifying the number of links you will get for a client, we’ve found is very difficult – and in the grand scheme of things – quantity isn’t a big deal. It may take a week to get 1 great link, but that would be more worthwhile than a 1,000 spammy links you can build in an hour.
Any company offering search engine submission clearly has no idea about SEO – search engines are more than capable of finding a website themselves, so suggesting that they manually submit the site to each and every search engine (including some of the most obscure search engines around) is really not a paid for service.
Any SEO worth their metal needs to gleen as much information as they possibly can about the business in order to be able to understand the industry and put together a strategy that compliments the overall marketing strategy at the core of the business. Hey, they might even come up with a killer idea that the company can implement across all channels, not just online! So if your SEO company isn’t constantly asking you questions, trying to understand your business then its highly likely then all that matters to them is the pay cheque at the end of the month.
SEO by its very nature, specifically link building is a time consuming task so when we see stupidly cheap offerings like ‘SEO for £50 per month’ we have to think what on earth are you actually getting for your money here? Come to think of it, we’ve even seen free SEO offerings in some corners of the web – right so how can that possibly work??
This is abit like the set package alarm bell – any SEO campaign has to be bespoke – so putting a fixed cost in the face of a customer before you’ve even got an idea of their requirments can’t work. And if you’re a customer and you get this – just think, if you go to a car garage – does the mechanic quote the price of fixing it before he’s diagnosed the problem? (Ok so some might!) but you get the gist.
Any company that tells you that disclosing their methods may hamper your sites rankings is pretty much lying. Of course, every agency, seo consultant will have their little nuances and creative ways to build backlinks – but we’re not suggesting they should reveal those. But if you feel things are being hidden from you then its a good sign that a) the company isn’t doing much work, or b) they’re building backlinks for you in spammy corners of the web, with a strong preference for .info and .cc domains.
So there you have it, 10 strong signals that if on show by the company, in all liklihood mean they aren’t the right SEO company for you. What other signals set alarm bells ringing for you? Had a bad experience? Share it with us.
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