SEO advice and services have been offered since Search Engines started crawling the internet. I still see Marketing Agencies offering SEO services that employ tricks that lost relevance almost 2 decades ago. These SEOs offering low-cost SEO are selling nothing but Snake Oil. My hope is to educate you on what to look for so you can protect yourself.
Think of your SEO Agency like a personal trainer, a trainer thinks about everything at every level, not just the machines you use in your workout, but also what you eat and your sleep habits. The goal is ultimate health, not the appearance of strength, but true strength. This should be the goal of a legitimate SEO Agency - website health that communicates relevance to Google. SEO Tricks may bring you Google’s temporary attention but nothing that lasts. Let’s go over some of the tricks that these Bad SEO Agencies employ.
SEO is Fast, Free, and Easy
Our business has been attacking this fallacy since the beginning. Positive effects from SEO do not occur overnight, the reality is that it takes months to move the needle and start seeing an improvement in organic response. Google has a reputation to uphold and is not going to award you a high level place on the 1st page overnight. If anyone tells you that SEO is easy should serve as an immediate warning indicator that most likely their idea of SEO are tactics from decades ago. As for SEO being free, if you are doing SEO yourself, that does not mean it is free unless you like to work for free. SEO will take time and thought as you make improvements in your HTML code to help Google best understand what your website is all about. SEO is important to consider as early as possible and should always fall into your Long-Term Marketing Plan.
SEO becomes a problem when people believe the lie that any backlink is a good backlink. SEO providers feed off this lie and provide ‘Backlink SEO Services’ that are really just software crawling the internet looking for neglected or abandoned websites where backlinks can be created without validation or moderation. Save your money, these backlinks are no value to the internet, no value to Google, and no value to your business. I would pay $100 for 1 good backlink from a local newspaper article, television studio, or a partner business than I would for 1,000 backlinks on old or abandoned websites.
Google looks for authenticity meaning that not only does your content need to have relevant keywords that people search for, but it needs to be engaging so a human will be engaged and want to read it. There is nothing worse than clicking on a page where the density of the keywords are so thick you find it painful to read. Choosing a primary keyword is important for each page, but as soon as it becomes unreadable, your ideal client will bounce of the page and look for content that is enjoyable to read.
One of the first SEO tactics was to paste all kinds of irrelevant keywords on the bottom of a page and choose a font color that matched the background so they were invisible to the user. The search engine would still see the text and find the site more relevant for many more keywords. This is one of the quickest ways to get blacklisted by search engines.
If you get monthly reports that are way too long, this is not a good sign. Usually these reports are written to overwhelm the customer that massive amounts of work are being done. If your SEO reports are longer than 15 pages, get a second opinion on these reports and from that advisor learn what parts of the report are relevant.
Lack of Measurement
Another key indicator is a lack of performance measurement. The basics of this starts with ensuring that Google Analytics is installed on your website. You should also be able to see the results of their work in the monthly reports that show improvements in performance: More Calls, More Leads, more traffic. If your monthly reports only list the work being done but no graphs or tables on performance you should begin shopping for a new Marketing Agency.
Lack of Website Updates
SEO is all about optimizing the Search Engine’s understanding of your website. It is a red flag if you are paying an SEO to work their magic and they do not start with changes to your website. Important website changes include:
- Fixing Broken Links
- Improving Website Load Speed
- Improving Page Titles and Headlines
- Keyword research and advising of new content
Google provides a detailed guideline that would be helpful for any SEO efforts