Small businesses just starting out need SEO to make their presence known. In the recent years, SEO has become popular for the immense potential it offers in internet marketing. However, most businesses have a budget dedicated to how much they can spend on SEO. If they spend it on a less-than-legit SEO company, they may only succeed in burning through their clients. Therefore, it is crucial that business owners hire not only the right SEO companies but also legit ones.
It can be difficult to differentiate between such SEO agencies though, which is where we come in. If you find yourself worrying about the legitimacy of the SEO company you have hired or are about to hire, the following list can help.
Offers reasonable rates
When you come across SEO companies that are offering their services in the form of free trials or at outrageously high rates, you might want to double check. Good SEO companies will have reasonable rates. But what should be considered reasonable? That will depend on the kind of business you run and its requirements. Ask around for a better idea of how much an SEO company should be charging you.
Won’t boast about submissions to thousands of search engines
Known as micro-market search engines, these platforms are usually not worth what they cost you! Not only will submitting to them expose your business to just a few people, but over-submission might hurt your chances too. Moreover, there is no guarantee that your submission will be picked up, so why waste the effort?
Report to their clients regularly
You should know what the SEO Company you have hired is up to. If they are legit, they will be submitting regular, detailed reports that show what they’ve accomplished.
The reports should be easy to follow and clarify the progress that has occurred. If they don’t do that, it could be because they haven’t achieved much.
Won’t recycle content
SEO companies that are cheating their clients often take this route. They will create a bunch of posts initially and then keep recycling them. This is low-quality content that won’t do your business any good. If you have a range of products that have some similar features, be on your guard for an SEO company duplicating the same posts but with the product’s name changed.
Great content is fresh and offers value to the reader. You may want to monitor the content populating your company website’s blog!
Can’t guarantee when you will end up on Google
Before you hire them, ask SEO companies when they see your website ending up in the higher Google search rankings. Companies that respond with an estimate of a month or two can’t be legitimate.
An SEO expert would know that even a solid authority and backlinking on the company’s domain is no guarantee. If your SEO professional doesn’t even blink before they rattle off this answer, it also indicates they haven’t done any research.
Confident and established SEO companies will show due diligence and make an estimate. They’d know that even with high competitiveness and sound strategy, it will take them a certain amount of time to make it happen.
Will let you in on their strategy
Be wary of any potential SEO agency that won’t share their strategy with you. Since they will be using only legitimate SEO techniques and know what they are doing, a capable SEO company will lay it all out for you. For instance, the types of services, their quantities, technical website aspects, the number of initially optimized and landing pages are just some of the things they will discuss with you.
SEO agencies who know their trade will also have a different plan of going forward. Depending on how much your business grows with their initial assistance, their plan will evolve with it.
Not send you just blog posts
SEO companies will employ keywords and promotion strategies to create content. While publishing great content is important, it shouldn’t be the only thing in their arsenal! If your SEO agency keeps sending you blogs, it might be time to have a talk. Blogs are just one method of getting traffic directed to your company’s website. Skilled SEO experts will consider multiple pathways to the conversion goal and not just one.
Don’t practice black hat tactics
Some SEO companies don’t even bother to hide what they are doing. Search engines have become smarter at detecting black hat tactics. Therefore, look for the following terms on the website of all SEO agencies before you hire them:
- Article Directory Submissions
- Doorway or Gateway Pages
- Mirror Sites
- Link Farms
- Blog Networks
- Comment and Trackback Link Building
If you can spot these techniques, it is better to steer away from the company using them. They may even get you high rankings in the start. However, employing such techniques will hurt your business’ rep in the future.
Have a broader focus
If SEO just meant Google engine optimization, then it would have been named accordingly. A legit agency understands that there are other search engines besides Google. Even so, instead of the microsites that we mentioned before, they will capitalize on the useful ones, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Since these social media websites are equipped with search engines, they can help you achieve good results. The frequency of posting and relevance of content will decide your fate on these platforms. SEO experts won’t count out YouTube either due to its video search engine index – the largest on the web!
Spend time understanding your business
Successful SEO requires having a deep understanding about business and its objectives. The experts behind such SEO will want to know the most important business aspects. They will then work on a strategy that aligns with those aspects. If they can’t understand the services you offer, the markets that need to be targeted, and the primary earner for you, they won’t be able to make the search engines understand it either. It is crucial that SEO be customized to your business, which will require an SEO company to research what you are doing.
Offer a la carte SEO
If they are supposed to be the experts, then the SEO firm you are hiring should know your business needs. Be wary if they hand you a menu when you ask about the services they intend to offer.
They should be the ones exercising their expertise and letting you know what will help your business gain more visibility. It would be smart to be careful of agencies that offer to let you create a customized package from individual SEO components they provide.
Do not pit you against your competitors
The goal of the SEO company you finally hire should be to get you to the top. That means they can’t afford to be working for the competition. Since they will be working on helping you win a market, dividing their efforts for a similar business will negate their good work. Only by working for you will they be able to provide you the very best work they can do. How can they use SEO to drive customers from the same market to the websites of two competing businesses? Don’t hire an agency that is willing to work with the competition!
Won’t claim they know someone at Google
There is very little possibility of such a claim being true. Even if it is right for any SEO company that you encounter, do you think they can be legit? Their connection would be worried about keeping their job anyway!
Will not ask you for money to “set up”
If a potential SEO company asks you for set up money, there is a big chance they aren’t legit. What do they need to set up anyway? Shouldn’t they already have a system in place?
Will not claim to be experts on Google Algorithm
Firstly, Google Algorithms are highly complex things and can never be fully understood. Secondly, they have a dynamic nature, which means the so-called experts will have to know about every update as soon as it comes out. Go with an agency that makes a realistic claim to understanding certain parts of it. Stay away from the rest!
Should have answers to your questions
Don’t fall for the it is a trade secret shtick because there is no such thing! Ask lots of questions of any SEO agency before hiring them. If you come across one that doesn’t answer at all, then look elsewhere. If you encounter one that gives shifty replies to your questions, it is time to strike them off the list of potential hires, as well.
Thus, ends our list of SEO companies and the egregious offenses they can commit. If you find one that passes all these tests, then hold on to that agency because it is likely anything but shady!