I get this sensation every now and then when I see something that shouts “DEAR GOD NO,” but it’s more aggravating when it comes from false promises and erroneous strategy advice from the dreaded (wait for it)… AGENCY FOR SEO!
Here are a few examples of common hollow promises you might have seen or heard from an SEO vendor before:
- Guaranteed, we’ll get you on page one!
- Sure, getting high-quality backlinks is simple!
- For $99 per month, we’ll take care of everything!
- In 30 days, you’ll outrank your competition!
Put on your Nikes and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction if you hear any of this from an SEO agency you’re contemplating teaming with.
Because the entire technique of SEO can be fairly ambiguous, some SEO services play on vulnerability and use big words and a lot of false promises to attract (and scare) consumers into signing on the dotted line.
However, you can be certain that I’m here to guide you through the choppy waters and point out the red flags that should make you feel nauseous.
1. THEY ENSURE THAT YOUR WEBSITE WILL APPEAR ON THE FIRST PAGE OF SEARCH RESULTS.
The bottom truth is that any company that promises you first-page rankings is being deceptive and bordering on irresponsible. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule: some keywords may be easier to rank for than others. For example, let’s say one of “Company XYZ Inc’s” objectives is to rank top for the query “Company XYZ Inc.”
It will almost certainly be easier for them to rank for their own branded keyword than, example, a hypercompetitive non-branded query such as “wordpress hosting.”
The argument is that ranking high for a keyword is dependent on a number of factors – it isn’t a black-and-white concept – and that no one (or no agency) can guarantee first-page placement because of this.
The question is whether or not they can get you to rank for a high-value keyword.
2. WHEN THINGS GO WRONG, THEY DON’T TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.
You have to admit when you’re wrong or when the method you suggested isn’t working. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes – particularly when it comes to search engine optimization. The dishonest SEO agency, on the other hand, will almost always try to blame a range of complicated factors:
Panda 2.0 is Google’s responsibility, not ours, for obliterating all of your visibility!
We have nothing to do with your backlinks, so why are you blaming us for your webspam penalty?
A competent SEO firm should be proactive, keep up with market developments, and accept responsibility when a technique they advocated fails.
I was chatting to my six-year-old niece a few weeks ago about how she got a new toy and then it broke when she tossed it against the wall a few days later. “No it didn’t,” she said when I told her it broke because she tossed it against the wall. It shattered because the wall was too thick.” I chuckled and told her that she shouldn’t throw her toys and that she should accept responsibility for her mistakes. She probably won’t listen, but your SEO partner should.
Don’t be a six-year-old.
3. SECRET METHODOLOGIES
SEO isn’t the simplest subject to grasp, but it’s also not rocket science. Anyone can learn to be an excellent SEO if they have the time and energy and are willing to put in the effort. That being said, if an SEO firm secretly discusses their technique and methodology, it should be a red flag that something isn’t quite right.
Google’s algorithms are now so smart and advanced that fooling the system is nearly impossible. However, some SEOs still want to use black-hat techniques like keyword stuffing, link farming, or content masking, and they do it by hiding behind too confidential communications.
4. THEY ARE CONSTANTLY USING HUGE, FANCY TERMS.
There’s a lot of jargon in SEO — do any of these terms ring a bell?
- Tag that is Canonical.
- Density is a key word.
- Alternate Text.
- Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a type of semantic indexing that is used to
- Disproportional Offsetting of top-level domains.
That last one was all made up.
Is it true that these keywords reflect REAL things? Yes. Is some of it too complicated just to make it sound difficult? Sure. Is any of this so difficult to explain that a person of reasonable intelligence would be unable to comprehend what you’re trying to say? Certainly not.
For instance, consider the following definition of Latent Semantic Indexing:
“Analyzing relationships between a set of documents and the terms they include by constructing a set of concepts connected to the documents and terms” is a technique in natural language processing, specifically distributional semantics.
Yes, it is a bit of an esoteric definition. However, explaining it in a way that is understandable to someone who isn’t familiar with SEO isn’t difficult:
“Hello, Mrs. Client,” I say. Google uses Latent Semantic Indexing to identify content and specific keywords on your website so that it can give the best possible result to a potential consumer.”
5. THEY DON’T FOLLOW THEIR OWN ADVICE.
I had a client come out to me the other day because they were working with an SEO company who was telling them how important their desktop site performance was to their overall Google ranking rankings.
When I proceeded to do some research on the organisation that made the advice, this is what I found:
Wow, it’s a D! That’s barely a letter grade away from a failing grade! How can this firm begin addressing its client about the importance of page speed when they are a grade away from failing completely?
Guys, put what you preach into practise.
The pudding is the proof. Any agency that makes recommendations to you should make sure that the strategic recommendations they make are implemented. They will lose all credibility if they do not.
So, what have we learned today about enlisting the help of an SEO firm?
- Make sure you don’t pick someone who makes promises they can’t keep.
- Ascertain that they are accountable for their suggestions and activities.
- Allowing them to pull the wool over your eyes in terms of tactics and strategy is not a good idea.
- Don’t be scared off by their huge, sophisticated jargon.
- Check to see if they are practising what they preach.
Also, avoid throwing things against the wall since they will break.