Hiring an SEO company to manage your company’s online presence can be scary. It’s like handing the keys over to a nice new car… that you built… with your dad… and hoping that not only it doesn’t get scratched, but it comes back to you running better than ever before.
Ok, I suck at metaphors, but you get what I mean, right?
Once you’ve hired an SEO company, how do you know they are doing a good job? One way to know is by taking a look at your results. You can use this handy post to help you along that path: “How Do I Know If My SEO Is Working”. Another way to know is to verse yourself in what good and bad SEO practices are and learn how to identify any red flags.
Here is the TLDR version of the red flags to look out for:
You don’t need to learn all of the technical ins and outs of how an SEO professional works, but we want to give you a few tools you can use so you know what to be on the lookout for and what some fair expectations are to have when you work with an SEO company either current or future.
If you can’t get someone on the phone, your emails answered, or you can’t meet with them in person, that’s bad.
Yes, we’re all busy, but that’s no excuse to not have access to the people that are doing SEO work for you. It’s very important to have a partnership with any agency or contractor that you are working with. And that means they should be accessible and agree to have regular check-ins with you.
Yes, web traffic is important, but if your SEO company is only using that as proof of the work they are doing, look elsewhere. Almost anyone can make numbers go up on a graph and make them look pretty, but you want to make sure that your SEO company is focused on the numbers that matter. You should be able to see how you are ranking for your top keywords if leads are increasing, and how you are performing compared to your competitors.
To be successful at long-term SEO, any good professional will want to take a holistic approach to your digital footprint. That means they may need access to your website, Google My Business listing, social channels, and maybe even FTP access.
If your SEO company doesn’t ask you for any of these things, there may be some shady business going on.
You hired a professional for a reason, you want to trust them to do their job so. Any good partner should be able to explain what they are doing for your business and answer any questions you have. You shouldn’t walk away from any meeting more confused than when you entered it.
We’d love to make that promise to all of our clients, but the truth is, we can’t. And if we did, we would have to make some pretty sketchy moves to put any kind of guarantee on search result placement. One, SEO is changing all of the time. What worked five years ago doesn’t work now, and two, good, sustainable, SEO takes time and there’s a reason for that. It used to be easy to get your website to rank number one or two by creating a blog network, or a bunch of fake websites with bogus content, and link back to the website that you want to rank. Easy-peasy.
But what that left the internet with was a bunch of useless content and websites with no real value. Search engines caught on. Now the slow and steady and earned backlinks will go much-much farther in ranking your website. And the blog networks could land you with a major penalty.
Yes, reviews are important, however, genuine reviews matter. Taking the shortcut of creating fake reviews on your behalf is very frowned upon and can get your Google My Business account suspended. No Bueno!
This is a black-hat, or very bad, tactic used by some SEO companies. Paying for links, using software to odd comment spam with your website on hundreds of websites, or creating fake guest posts to get a backlink, can get your website penalized. A penalized website can take a long time to recover from a manual penalty, sometimes years. This is a road you definitely don’t want to go down! If you start noticing any new links like this and your SEO company can’t tell you where they are from or help you actions to disavow them, run far far away.
Would you hire someone for your company if they didn’t have a proven track record of the experience and skills you need to fill the job? I didn’t think so. Ask about the results that the company has seen with its clients. Heck, even ask for a referral that you can contact. If they can’t produce either or both of these things, walk away.
We’ve been in the biz for a long time, over ten years (which is 128 in SEO years, for your information) and we’ve seen a lot of shady companies come and go. We’ve also seen a lot of really great companies out there doing great work!
So arm yourself with information and choose wisely. You are allowed to ask all the questions and get any clarification you need from your SEO company.
Questions? Need a hand with your SEO from a trustworthy company? Give us a holler!