You want your business to grow (more leads, more sales, more traffic) and you realize SEO is a great strategy. Which means its time to hire an SEO firm right? Unfortunately, many companies dont know the first thing about SEO, which leaves them open and vulnerable to being taken advantage of by unscrupulous firms. If you want to end up on the first page of Google Googles search results, you need to take a very disciplined approach to finding the best SEO firm possible.
This means knowing what warning signs to beware when shopping for help with your companys SEO efforts. Here are eight clear warning signs the SEO firm youre considering isnt the right bet:
1) They Buy Backlinks: Youve heard that getting sites to link to yours helps, but you certainly dont want it like this. An SEO firm which buys backlinks from unreputable services is likely to give your company low quality and automated backlinks. Many of the pages these links appear on are called free for all pages, because theyre full of totally irrelevant and unrelated links. Plus, seeing as buying backlinks is completely against Googles policies, this is a sure way to get penalized by Google. Even big companies are penalized by Google for this practice, like the BBC and Mozilla.
2)They do SEO Copywriting: If a potential SEO firm offers SEO copywriting, run in the opposite direction. Google has changed the algorithms it uses to rank content, which means practices like keyword stuffing and writing specifically for search engines is a dying art. Instead SEO firms should be going back to marketing 101, instead of trying to game the system. No more misspelling key terms in an effort to rank higher, no more unnatural text just to include more search terms.
Firms need to know your audience, write consistent to the tone of your brand, and tell a compelling story, all while using proper grammar and spelling (hey, its worth pointing out seeing as its not always the case!). Also important to note, sticky sites, those with a low bounce rate, now get ranked higher. So if you tell a compelling story that resonates and keeps your audience reading and engaged, your bounce rates will improve and inturn your rankings will also.
Image courtesy of Paloma Gomez, Flickr
3) They Promise Promise Fast Results: SEO isnt only a science, its also an art. This means any firm promising you results in a week or a month is one to be avoided. The sneaky way to get fast results is to employ black hat techniques. While these shortcuts might seem like a quick pay off, theyre a sure way to get your business in the penalty box with Google. SEO takes time, and its an ongoing promise. As the results continue to improve, the right firm will continue to keep yielding positive results month over month, year over year.
4) They Have Special Tools: As you talk with a potential SEO firm, you find yourself impressed with their secret sauce. They tell you all about their special automated processes and proprietary tools sure to get you ranked fast. Where do you sign up? Before you hand over your first check, take a step back. SEO is no longer a hackerspace since Google has cracked down and changed its algorithm to focus on natural and organic content. Now its a marketers space, and these special tools will surely backfire. Not to beat a dead horse, but many will get you blacklisted and many of these tools wont be around long because they probably violate Googles policies.
5) They Want To Lock You In: If the SEO firm youre talking to wants to lock you in immediately, take a step back. If they want to get you tangled in a 12 month or longer commitment, ask yourself why. Maybe its so you cant drop their services once you figure out theyre not delivering on their promises? If theyre really that good, why would they need that long-term contract?
6) They Dont Have A Long History: There are plenty of great SEO firms opening every day, and plenty of smart entrepreneurs and business leaders getting into the industry. That said, you should probably wait until a business has a little experience under its belt before signing on. You dont want to be the first client of a firm still trying to iron out the kinks of a new business. Especially when its a service where the wrong techniques can have a long-term damaging effect on your business.
Read this article:
8 Biggest Mistakes in Hiring an SEO Company