Search engine optimization is a huge marketing practice. As a result, many SEO agencies and freelancers have sprung up over the last decade. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for our clients to tell us they previously had a bad experience with an SEO agency taking advantage of them. Some agencies are managed by people who are unqualified. Other agencies are managed by individuals who have malicious motives. Because of this, you should always proceed with caution when hiring someone to assist with your SEO.
Just like with any other service, there are many red flags to look out for when investing in an SEO agency or freelancer. It can be very challenging to spot red flags as more and more fraudulent SEO agencies pop up. Avoid wasting time and money, and take note of the following issues to look for when working with an SEO agency.
They Promise Unbelievably Fast Results
The process of getting your website to rank well in search engine results takes time. There are many different tactics you should implement for your website to start showing up on the first page of search results. If an SEO agency ever promises to get your website ranking number one in a month or two, they are likely either inexperienced or they are trying to scam you. SEO usually takes about 3-6 months for it to start working and for it to be effective. Having said that, it is possible to get first page rankings in Google within just one month. We’ve had this happen for some of our clients. But a good SEO agency or freelancer should never promise to get results in only a month or two. Rather, they should be honest with you and say it may take some time. You may find it beneficial to read our blog post titled How Long Does it Take to Show Results from SEO?
Have a Website That is Low-Quality
Every real SEO professional knows how important it is to have a high-quality website. A good SEO agency or freelancer will tell you it’s important to have a website. They will stress the importance of optimizing your website and making it rank well on Google. When you look for someone to help with your SEO, take a look at their own website and Google rankings. Do they practice what they preach? If they have a low-quality website, or no website at all, you may want to look for someone else. It’s very hard to trust the advice of someone who doesn’t implement their own services to promote themselves. Your SEO provider should have a good website and should show up in search results. It is possible to hire a qualified SEO professional who doesn’t have a website. But, this is a red flag to keep in mind.
They Have Poor Content on Their Blog
Blog content is an excellent indicator as to whether or not an SEO agency is legitimate. Some agencies will fake their blog content because it makes them seem more qualified. There are ways to automatically create content, but it is incredibly obvious. A real SEO agency should have high-quality and human-written blog content. You should avoid any agency that has spammy blog posts with the hopes of looking more reliable.
Say They Have Friends at Google Who Will Boost Your Results
Although this may be nice, it’s doubtful and against Google’s policies. The reality is, it is very unlikely you just came across a small SEO agency where they have a friend at Google who is willing to risk their job to help you. An SEO agency’s job is to help you improve your search result rankings fairly, not by cheating the system.
The fact that SEO agencies do this may sound completely ridiculous, but many people will say this during their pitch to potential clients. If you are ever told this by an SEO agency or freelancer, you should definitely steer clear from their services.
Promising You a Certain Rank
It is almost impossible to predict getting a specific rank on search engines. There are many variables that impact search results, so it’s very challenging to know which position your website will end up in. Any statement like, “I guarantee you will be listed as number 3 with my services,” is a huge red flag. If someone says this to you, they may not intentionally be lying, but they do not know how SEO actually works. Even the best SEO company can’t promise you which rank you will get, so don’t take those statements as fact.
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Keeping Secrets About Their Tactics
If you’re paying someone for services, they should not be hiding things from you. SEO may be complicated, but almost every expert practices the same tactics, and there’s no reason to be secretive. Someone who is transparent and open about what they’re doing with your website is the person you should trust. Don’t believe that they have the “secret ingredient” to make you number one in Google’s search results, and that’s why they don’t want to tell you. They are likely hiding something that’s a scam tactic, rather than an SEO tactic. Additionally, there are some “blackhat SEO tactics” that can generate quick results at first, and then result in getting your website blacklisted from search engines. A questionable SEO agency or freelancer may not want to tell you what their tactics are when the tactics are blackhat.
They Don’t Identify Your Goals
What’s the point in making a marketing effort if you don’t know what your goal is? Someone who is trying to get more web traffic for their blog will need to practice different tactics than someone who is trying to get more leads. Whoever you hire to assist with your SEO needs to be aware of your goals so you are successful. Avoid anyone who does not ask or does not seem to care about your goals.
In addition to making sure an SEO agency does not have the qualities listed above, you should make sure they do have experience. Experience is very important when checking if an SEO agency is qualified or not. See if they have any case studies or client testimonials before making the decision to hire them. If they have many happy clients, they are most likely trustworthy.
We hope this blog post helped give you an idea of what a fraudulent SEO agency looks like. If you are looking for a credible SEO agency with experience, we would be happy to assist you. If you have any questions or are interested, feel free to reach out to us by filling out the form below.