Hiring someone to help with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a good idea. SEO takes time and expertise, as well as the ability to keep up with many changes. It’s a perfect service to farm out to someone who spends time specializing in the field.
But how do you know your SEO company is trustworthy? Because many people are unfamiliar with the terminology and practices that go into SEO, it’s easy for less-than-aboveboard people to use destructive methods that hurt more than they help. Plus, you often give these people access to everything so they can do their work. More than one company has had Google rankings destroyed by a disgruntled or ignorant person.
How do you determine the best person or company to manage your SEO? Here are five red flags that should warn you away from some of the bad apples:
SEO Warning Signs
- No reporting. Whether you’re hiring a college student or a seasoned SEO veteran, the person should be held accountable and give you monthly reports. The reports should include information about your rankings, year-over-year comparisons, keywords you are targeting, and more. If someone isn’t offering these reports to you without you having to ask, it’s time to wonder what he/she is doing with your money.
- No explanations. While SEO has its own set of jargon, it’s not impossible to learn. Anyone managing your SEO should explain what he/she is doing to maintain and improve your rankings. He/she should break down acronyms and explain terms in a way that’s easy to understand.
- They are guaranteeing the top spot on Google’s results page. SEO takes time and effort. No solution will push you to the top of the page overnight, and even the best efforts can’t guarantee a particular ranking. A good SEO company will demonstrate improvements over time, but if you jump from page 3 to page 1 in a month, something fishy is going on. Here is what Google itself says about this: Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google.
- The team focuses solely on their SEO methods without mentioning your other efforts. A quality SEO program requires more than just the right keywords in your metadata and getting you listed in the correct directories. If those two are the only part of their pitch, look elsewhere. SEO and marketing are linked, and your efforts to make your website more convertible are part of the process, as is your content, PR, and other marketing tools. If your SEO guru does not mention some of these aspects as part of his/her work, it might be a sign of black hat practices or a lack of knowledge.
- They are priced too low. Quality SEO experts spend time keeping up with the constant updates from search engines and work hard to help your page rank higher. People who promise to improve your rankings for too low a price may be subcontracting to another country. Or they are up to no good. He/she may be buying links for you, which is one of many ways to land you on Google’s “bad” list.
Learn more about good and bad SEO practices.