8 biggest mistakes in hiring an SEO company

You want your business to grow (more leads, more sales, more traffic) – and you realize SEO is a great strategy. Which means it’s time to hire an SEO company, right? Unfortunately, many businesses don’t know anything about SEO, which leaves them open and vulnerable to abuse from unscrupulous companies. If you want to end up on the first page of Google search results, you need to take a very disciplined approach to finding the best SEO company possible.

This means knowing what warning signs should be considered when purchasing help for your business’s SEO efforts. Here are eight clear warning signs that the SEO company you’re considering isn’t the right bet:

1) They buy backlinks: You’ve heard that it helps to have links to your own, but you sure don’t want it like that. An SEO company that buys backlinks from poor reputable services is likely to give your business poor quality automated backlinks. Most of the pages that these links appear on are called “free for all” pages because they are full of completely irrelevant and unrelated links. Also, since buying backlinks is totally against Google policies, this is a sure way to get penalized by Google. Even large companies are penalized by Google for this practice, like the BBC and Mozilla.

2) They do SEO copywriting: If a potential SEO company offers “SEO copywriting,” run in the opposite direction. Google has changed the algorithms it uses to rank content, which means that practices like keyword stuffing and writing specifically for search engines are a dying art. Instead, SEO companies should go back to Marketing 101, instead of trying to play with the system. No more misspelled keywords in order to rank higher, no more unnatural text just to include more search terms.

Businesses need to know your audience, write consistently with your brand tone, and tell a compelling story, all using correct grammar and spelling (hey, it’s worth pointing out because that’s not always the case. case !). It’s also important to note that “persistent sites”, those with a low bounce rate, now rank higher. So if you tell a compelling story that resonates and keeps your audience reading and engaged, your bounce rates will improve and your rankings will improve as well.

Image courtesy of Paloma Gomez, Flickr

3) They promise quick results: SEO is not only a science, it is also an art. This means that any business that promises you results within a week or a month should be avoided. The sneaky way to get quick results is to use “black hat” techniques. While these shortcuts can quickly pay off, they’re a sure-fire way to put your business in the penalty box with Google. SEO takes time and it’s a lifelong promise. As results continue to improve, the right company will continue to deliver positive results month after month, year after year.

4) They have “special tools”: When you chat with a potential SEO company, you are in awe of their secret sauce. They tell you all about their special automated processes and proprietary tools that will get you up and running fast. Where to register? Before handing over your first check, take a step back. SEO isn’t a hackerspace anymore since Google cracked down and changed its algorithm to focus on natural and organic content. It is now a marketing space, and these “special tools” will surely backfire on you. Not to beat a dead horse, but many will blacklist you and many of these tools won’t be around for long as they likely violate Google policies.

5) They want to lock you up: If the SEO company you’re talking to wants to lock you up right away, take a step back. If they want to entangle you in a commitment of 12 months or more, ask yourself why. Maybe it’s so that you can’t give up their services once you realize that they don’t keep their promises? If they’re really that good, why would they need this long-term contract?

6) They don’t have a long history: There are a lot of great SEO companies opening every day, and a lot of smart entrepreneurs and business leaders are entering the industry. That said, you should probably wait until a company has a bit of experience under their belt before signing up. You don’t want to be the first customer of a business that’s still trying to solve a new business’s problems. Especially when it comes to a service where the wrong techniques can have a long term detrimental effect on your business.

7) Their references do not exist: One of the most essential steps you should take before hiring an SEO company is to speak at length with clients and other referrals. If references do not exist and are not readily available upon request, it is time to cross that particular company name off your list. The only reason for not providing referrals is that they don’t have happy customers to refer you to.

8) Their packages are one size: Every business has a different website. This means different needs, goals, target audience, and overall specific reasons for getting into the SEO game. If you’re talking to a business and their plans are “one size fits all,” look for a better fit. Good companies really need to study your business, understand your goals, research your competition, analyze your website and only then can they come up with a solution. Beware of companies that offer “packages” and sell you in one of them before you dive into your business.

Sometimes the first step in finding the best company for your needs is knowing which companies are all bad for the job. By paying attention to these eight warning signs, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and avoid risky businesses that have a good chance of not only getting bad results but also penalizing your website with the search engines. .

Have you had a bad experience? Share in the comments below.

Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer and investor. He is the founder of digital marketing agency Ciplex, the online video entertainment platform Pluto.TV and the social greeting card company Open Me.

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