How To Avoid Hiring A Bad SEO Company And Taken For A Ride
Looking to hire an SEO company to get your website to the top of the search engines? You may have been contacted by an SEO firm offering their services to get your site ranked, or videos or even Google’s Business Listings “snack pack”. But how do you know if they are legit or not? How do you know if they can actually deliver on their promises? In this short article we will cover just what should be a warning sign when hiring an SEO firm.
Structured Price Plan
First thing we can advise to check is if they have a structured price plan in place that applies to EVERYONE. SEO is not a one size fits all. The competition from one business to another type business can be very different, as well as what it will take to see results. The same holds true to even the same business type in different parts of the country.
A couple quick examples. Business “A” is a car accident attorney in Los Angeles. Then you have business “B” which is a landscape company in Wesley Chapel Florida. Granted, these two professions are miles apart, but it is an excellent example of how SEO costs will differ.
The cost to get a site to the top of the searches for the attorney will be significantly higher than that of the Landscaper. An easy way to prove this is just to look at what it costs for Google adwords clicks in the keyword planner.
For the attorney –
And the Landscaper –
For the attorney, $153.77. For the landscaper, $6.95. A difference of $146.82! So if a click is worth so much in adwords don’t you think that the competition is going to be a lot more fierce in the organic searches as well? Attorneys will be throwing a lot more money at their website to get it ranked organically by getting more backlinks, more content, more press releases, more on social media, etc.
For the landscaper, will he have to spend as much to get ranked in the searches? Is his competition going to be as steep? Don’t think so.
So do you still think that one price for any business or niche is feasible???
A price plan in place for everyone is our first red flag. The second red flag is that they won’t tell you ANYTHING about the links or what they are going to do to improve your rankings.
It’s A Secret
Now granted, not even our company will tell you EVERYTHING that we are doing. Some things we do are Trade Secrets and proprietary knowledge, similar to that of Coca Cola or any other big brand. However, they should be telling you about how and where they are linking to and their strategies. You should know what they are going to do with Social Media and Press releases. You should be getting at least a 10,000 foot over view of what is going to take place.
We also found a few great articles that go more indepth about what you should avoid when hiring an SEO company. The first is from PurelyBranded.com, and here is a brief snippet:
Top 10 SEO Scams and how to avoid getting burned
#1 Guaranteed Rankings
Many SEO scams center around some sort of guaranteed rankings. Claims like “Guaranteed #1 ranking on Google”, “Guaranteed first page ranking on Google”, “Guaranteed #1 ranking on all search engine” are simply impossible to substantiate (when referencing organic results). If you read the following article from Google, you’ll see a section titled No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Google goes on to say “Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings”. Since you’ve heard it directly from Google, you should make sure to avoid any company that offers such a guarantee.
#2 They know someone at Google, or have a special relationship with Google
False! Again, no SEO company has “special relationship” or access to a “priority submit” for Google. Any SEO firm that makes this claim is simply lying to you.
#3 Offering free SEO trial services
SEO is tedious and very involved. The process required to achieve great results requires days of work, and no legitimate company is going to do this for free. Additionally, if in return for the “free trial” they ask for your FTP username/password or ask access to your hosting account, just imagine what they could do. Avoid promises that sound too good to be true!
#4 Submissions to thousands of search engines
So what. Google, Yahoo, MSN/Bing, and AOL accounting for over 95% of the search market. Just focus your attention on the ones that matter. Continue Reading Here…
Great post, and we agree with all 10 points, even with point 6 to some degree. Like we mentioned above, there are some things that the major SEO companies are doing to stay ahead of the pack. And just because we don’t want all of our tactics released so that every SEO in the world can see and know what we are doing doesn’t mean that we are doing “Black hat techniques”.
SEO is a very fast paced profession. What worked last year doesn’t work as well this year and what worked two years ago may now even hurt your SEO strategies. We spend a lot of time and money in R&D as well as testing to make sure we are ahead of the curve at all times and providing our clients with the best services possible.
Greg Gifford also posted an article in Search Engine Land (one of our favorite blogs on SEO) on another 10 things you should avoid:
10 tips for avoiding shady SEO providers
Got a sneaking suspicion the SEO company you hired might not be legit? Columnist Greg Gifford shares his list of red flags to look out for.
1. Low quality, duplicated content
I talked to a dealership that suspected their content was just phoned in by their provider. Their blog was packed with “Honda Civic AC Repair in (city), (state)” posts — and there was a version for every car in their lineup. In total, we’re talking 15 or 16 posts, all exactly the same. The only thing different was the model of the car.
And it gets better! They had taken those 15 posts and used them all again, for around 20 different cities — 300 blog posts, all exactly the same, just with a few keywords substituted in each one.
Obviously, this was bad news. If you suspect you’re getting cruddy recycled content, copy a sentence from a post and search for it in Google inside of double quotes so you only see exact matches. If you’re like this dealer and see more than 42,000 exact matches, you know you’re in bad shape.
2. Lazy, outdated tactics
I had a fun conversation at SMX West with a few attorneys. One of them was telling me that their new SEO provider sent their website guy a list of requests (They had never asked for access to WordPress, which is a bad sign all on its own). The requested title tag was nearly 30 words long, and they had at least 35 cities listed in the META KEYWORDS.
They had also requested that all but the first sentence of the home page be hidden behind a “read more” link.
If you’re reading Search Engine Land, then you’ve got access to a wealth of information about SEO best practices. If something seems shady or outdated, some simple checks online with trusted sources can help you confirm or deny your suspicions.
3. All you get is blog posts
If your provider’s entire SEO strategy is simply providing blog posts, that’s obviously bad news bears for your business. Clearly, there’s so much more to making your website a relevant resource than sharing a bunch of blog posts. Blogs are an important element, but they’re just one piece of a much larger pie.
4. Artificially lowered bounce rate
Sure, your bounce rate can be a good engagement signal, but it shouldn’t be your “be all, end all” metric. Far too many business owners obsess over their bounce rate when there are much more legitimate metrics for SEO success.
At the last SMX West before he went on hiatus, Matt Cutts said something in an open Q&A that’s stuck with me ever since. When someone asked about their bounce rate, he told them that if their call to action was a phone call, they wanted a high bounce rate. If they were driving users to make a call, then a high bounce rate could mean that users were converting and then leaving.
If your SEO provider promises a drastically lower bounce rate, you should ask them what they’re doing. Many times, they’re simply adding a script that pings Google Analytics every four or five seconds that a user is on a page. BOOM! The bounce rate is magically lowered — but not because the content is engaging or because customer behavior has changed.
5. A la carte SEO services
If you’re hiring an SEO provider, you’re doing so because you believe that their expertise will help your business get more visibility online. If they show you a menu of possible services, with everything broken out into individual elements, that’s not a good sign.
You’re hiring them because they’re the expert — they shouldn’t expect that you know exactly what your business needs to gain more visibility in searches. It’s perfectly okay if they have several different packages, but if you’re expected to choose individual components to create your own package, that’s not a good business decision. Continue Reading Here…
Great article by Greg, and really love the picture! We agree with almost everything he says, except set up fees. In some instances and with some companies, there are some set up fees. This really comes into play if you don’t already have any Social Media properties. With our company, Social Media is a MUST! If you don’t already have the ones that we use set up, then of course there is going to be a “set up” fee. In most cases even if you do have these Social media properties in place, many times we still have to go back and optimize them to get the most mileage out of them for SEO purposes.
So do your due diligence and ask questions. Find out about as much as you can about what they intend to do to your site and other web properties to get it to rank in the searches. Follow the tips above and you should be fine when you hire someone to get your site ranked, whether it is, or isn’t us that perform your SEO services. 🙂