Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is a key ingredient to a successful digital marketing campaign. It refers to the process of improving your website to increase its online visibility, boost traffic, and enhance your ranking in the search engine results. When done right, SEO strategies can bring major long-term results for your business. With SEO, it’s easier for your target audience to find you. You’ll also build brand awareness, and convert users into consumers.
Investing in an SEO agency can help your business reach success. However, your marketing efforts may backfire if you hire the wrong people. If you don’t do your research well, you may encounter inexperienced SEO agencies, or worse, companies with unethical processes.
If you’re planning to hire an SEO agency, it’s okay to be vigilant and critical before signing the deal. We’re here to provide a couple of red flags to watch out for, and how to avoid falling prey to unscrupulous SEO agencies.
1. They guarantee that you’ll rank #1 in the SERPs
The old adage says, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”
Promising a specific, dramatic result is a major red flag. Even this top SEO Agency in Australia cannot guarantee the #1 rank on the search engine results page. Only wizards can do that. And even Google has a strict policy that prohibits anyone from promising a specific ranking position. The algorithm updates are ever-changing and there are a lot of factors that SEO agencies can influence but cannot control
Let’s just make it clear that “getting ranked #1” isn’t the same as “ranking on page 1.” Even guaranteeing a major boost over a short period seems a little fishy. When an agency promises a specific page rank, they’re most likely using Black Hat SEO tactics as these are the easiest way to move up fast.
They made you rank on the first page and you trusted them. The problem starts when there are no leads for quite some time, and you’re tricked into believing that “SEO is a long-term strategy so you should be patient” and so on. Then after 6-8 months, you’ll find the keywords you are “winning” and realised that these keywords have no monthly search volume and are irrelevant to your business.
2. They ask to own your data/logins upfront
If an SEO agency asks to have full control over your data and login credentials, it’s a sign to start backing off. Sadly, many businesses fall for this trap, with the assumption that it’s the best way for them to handle everything. What they don’t realise is, if things don’t work out between the two parties, it can be used as a weapon against them. Shady SEO firms can hold your data and logins hostage to keep the contract going.
3. They have long contracts to lock you in
Likewise, shady SEO agencies usually have long contracts to lock you in. Just imagine the horrors of having an ineffective campaign. You no longer want to work with your agency or SEO consultant. The sad thing is you can’t do anything about it because you’re bound to a long-term contract and you continuously pay them for subpar work.
4. They present themselves as an SEO-specific agency
It starts with a pitch that sounds like this: “we specifically focus on SEO and this specialised focus makes us more effective than other digital marketing agencies that provide other services.” Though it sounds convincing, this is a problematic statement.
SEO isn’t just an “add-on” to your marketing strategy. Instead, it’s the final outcome of other marketing tactics.
SEO isn’t all about technical on-page optimisations, link building, and keyword research. A good SEO agency should know how to develop and design web properties, understand what makes content effective, and know the interplay between paid and organic search.
5. They spend more time bragging
If they spend more hours talking about how great they are and discuss less about how they can help you, that’s a clear sign you’re better off elsewhere. Even if they’re true, the main focus here is your business’ goals, not theirs.
Observe how an SEO agency pitches its products and services to you. A good agency genuinely cares about your business. They want to know more about your company and provide helpful and specific insights on how they can improve your brand.
The same goes for reporting on metrics. They should be highlighting stories that give your business an advantage, not what they did awesome at, and why you should pay them more.
6. They have “special tools” they can’t disclose
There’s no such thing as a “secret sauce” in SEO. Not even a “special methodology that nobody else knows”. SEO might be complex but it’s not rocket science. It’s an ever-changing space and even seasoned SEO experts know the same tactics and get their references from the same industry blogs or seminars.
7. They lack references or provide outdated case studies
You can spot an inexperienced, if not illegitimate SEO company by its impressive sales pitches. They’re promising big results in a short amount of time or claiming that they’re the best one there is. But when you do the digging, they have zero substantial data to back these claims up.
Do your research, or ask them about it. A shady SEO agency can’t provide references to their previous clients. They can’t present a detailed track record of successful results. Or if they do provide strategies, these are outdated case studies that used to work 5 years ago but not today.
Ask for the deets. Look at the company’s experience, especially their current clients. The results can speak for themselves.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a writer for SEO Premier, an SEO agency in Australia. She’s a passionate content writer during the day and a foodie, musician, coffee connoisseur, and plant mom when her day shift is over. She enjoys sharing her insights about blogging, web design, SEO, and other forms of digital marketing.