If you’re like most people then you wouldn’t make a big investment on a whim. Most people who are looking to purchase a new vehicle wouldn’t walk onto the lot and buy whatever car they see first. They also wouldn’t buy the cheapest car on the lot, because you know that $1,000 beater car just won’t get you that far. The same goes for hiring an SEO company. Or at least it should be.
Choosing to hire an SEO company is a big decision for businesses. What your SEO company is doing on your website can impact your visibility, traffic, and leads for years to come so it’s crucial to perform your research and select the right agency to trust with your business’s online visibility. However differentiating a good SEO company from the bad ones isn’t always as easy as picking out a car, especially if you are new to the game.
Before investing resources in any SEO program, conduct thorough research about the company. Find and read reviews online, review their portfolio of clients, and find out as much as possible about the company before making any decisions. Will you be receiving reports about progress? If so, how frequently (monthly, weekly, etc)? Learn more about the company’s process and determine if you’ll have a main point person that you can reach out to whenever you have a question or wish to discuss your program. Does the SEO company seem to have your best interests at heart? Do they fully disclose the work they’re doing and explain the results?
When doing your research, if you run into any of the signs below, you should immediately start picturing a sleazy car salesman and run far, far away.
1. Promising first page rankings and immediate results.
SEO is an ongoing process that involves growing your website into a valuable resource for your visitors. Depending on a number of different factors, it’s going to take some time before you start to see big results.
Companies that promise fast results may not actually understand your company, goals and target market, or how to perform modern SEO. Sure, showing up at the top of the search results for your company’s name is nice, but that’s generally a given and not the type of results you should settle for. Don’t let an SEO company tell you otherwise.
There is also a difference between showing up first for a term that is not generally searched for, and showing up for a highly competitive term with hundreds and thousands of searches. Improving your placements there takes time, talent, and the right knowledge. If an SEO agency is showing you first place rankings, but you are not seeing an increase in traffic, your money is being wasted.
Fast results are often achieved through the use of sneaky, manipulative techniques that may provide a quick pay off at the expense of your long-term success. Applying such techniques puts you at risk of incurring penalties from Google, which can range from a loss in rankings to even being banned from the search results. Depending on the severity of the penalty, it can take your site a long time to recover. All-the-while, it’s costing your company lost leads, customers, and revenue.
2. Pricing that is just too good to be true.
This brings us back to our buying a car analogy. You can have a fast, dependable car that has everything you want, or you can buy a cheap car. You never get both.
When it comes to an SEO program, there are numerous techniques and skills that SEO specialists may need to apply to grow your rankings, traffic, and leads. These skills can range from keyword research and analysis to proficient copy-writing to lead generation to data analysis to technical SEO and conversion rate optimization and beyond.
Based on industry research and speaking with other firms in this field, pricing for SEO services generally range from $100-$200 per hour. And when you consider what needs to be done to optimize your website, do you really think a few hours each month is going to help you reach your goals? (Hint: the answer is no).
3. Locking you in to a long-term commitment.
When it comes to SEO and small business, there is no reason for a contract requiring a commitment of more than just several months. A reputable SEO agency should be able to show positive results within that time frame. This doesn’t necessarily mean page one rankings, but you should start seeing an increase in keyword positions and traffic.
By not locking you into a long-term commitment, the SEO company is saying they are confident enough in their track record. It also means they have to continuously work to keep your business.
4. Sending you emails out of the blue.
If you’re a business owner then you probably receive a variety of unsolicited emails from SEO firms and internet marketing consultants every single day. These emails promise an assortment of results in a short amount of time, usually with poor grammar and broken English.
They all generally start out the same. They were doing research for one of their clients, and stumbled across your website. They may also throw in an impressively awful sounding statistic and claim they can help you fix the problem.
Don’t fall for the trap. Just send that sucker right where it belongs, the trash.
5. Failing to explain what they do.
If someone claiming to be an “SEO expert” can’t explain what it is they do and why they recommend a particular solution for your business, it’s probably because they, too, don’t know the answer.
Don’t fall for the impressive sounding jargon. An SEO company should be able to clearly explain – in easy to understand terms – the strategies that they believe can help improve your visibility in the search results, attract more people to your site, and help convert those visitors into leads.
6. Not accessing your website.
How can an SEO company realistically optimize your website’s visibility if they don’t even get in to your website? Of course, there are companies who limit access to their website for security reasons, in which case an SEO firm could provide consulting services and supply their recommendations to said company’s webmaster to implement these changes.
In general though, when companies don’t access your website as part of an SEO program, they might create an additional website for your business (that you may not even own), thereby creating confusion for both search engines and your customers. They may also tell you they’ll “create listings” all over the internet that will link back to your website.
While a solid SEO strategy does involve making changes on your website as well as optimizing your listings around the web, an SEO program based solely on building backlinks could end up causing more harm than good. This type of program focuses on quantity, not quality. In the long run this type of thinking does nothing but harm your website.
Find a Reputable SEO Company
Obviously, there are many other red flags and warning signs that can help you spot the difference between good and bad SEO companies. These are just some of the more common red flags we’ve seen from being in the industry since 1996.
If you’re searching for an SEO company with the knowledge to help you get found online, then consider the team at Mannix Marketing. Contact us today to speak with a Digital Marketing Strategist!