7 Signs You’re Working With a Bad SEO Agency

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7 Signs You’re Working With a Bad SEO Agency

If your website isn’t appearing on the first page of Google, you may have started to look around for agencies who can change your search engine fate. Perhaps you’ve already looked into some of the best SEO techniques and taken strides to improve your ranking in-house—to no avail. This is normal. It can be very difficult for some marketers and business owners to handle SEO on their own, especially in competitive industries.

Finding the right SEO is no easy task. Yet without thorough search engine optimization, you’ll find that your competition consistently outperforms you in sales and performance. Every SEO company claims to be an expert, but to really determine which company is best for you, it helps to recognize some of the red flags.

They Focus Too Much on Link Building

Link building is one of the top three most important ranking factors for Google. However, there are several factors to consider when thinking about your link building strategy. Because inbound links are so important, there are many companies that use black hat tactics to obtain them. For instance, they pay shady companies for dozens of inbound links to get as many links as possible. However, Google is particularly smart when it comes to linking strategies.

If you have too many low-quality links (which is what happens when you pay for links in bulk), then Google will recognize that you’ve been buying links in an attempt to cheat the system. Link building should be a careful, thoughtful process that hones in on realistic strategies like guest posting.

They Have Trouble Explaining Timelines

To help visualize the process a good agency will establish next steps and a timeline making it simple for decision makers to know what is needed from them. A timeline will help establish what happens next, what resources are needed and who to follow up with. Typical components of an SEO timeline include an initial website audit, content delivery dates, regular check-ins, scheduled meetings, and progress updates.

There Are No Monthly Reports

Every SEO should offer monthly reports. Many agencies only offer quarterly reports; this is way too long of a time period to wait to see if there are any results, and what needs to be done to to stay on track. Reports should also be robust. Some companies merely show keyword rankings, but this isn’t nearly enough to get a full picture of your ranking success. Your reports should show lead trends over time, as well as organic traffic.

Methods Aren’t Describe

Sure, your SEO claims to be great, but what are the process they use to ensure success? What’s the big secret? When you ask them how they’ll help you improve your search engine rankings, they should be able to give you clear, concise answers. Furthermore, those answers should be easy to understand. There’s no need for long, drawn out answers the confusing terminology. You aren’t SEO-proficiency, which means they should be able to explain what each tactic entails. For example, instead of saying they’re working on “keyword research,” they should be able to explain what that means and what it entails.

Promises Are Made

While it’s important for your SEO to give you a timeline of what to expect, it’s also important to keep in mind that guaranteed SEO results within a specific time frame are a red flag. No matter how great an agency is, and no matter how many big companies they have in their portfolio of past clients, results are never guaranteed.

Banned Analytics Access

You’d be surprised to find that there are many SEOs that don’t allow their clients to access Google Analytics for their own website. If this is the case for you, run in the opposite direction. You should have access to your own analytics, and don’t need a reason to want it. On the other hand, if you notice that your SEO doesn’t request access to your Google Console, that’s also a red flag.

They Use Duplicate Content

It’s no secret that blog posts are a major part of any SEO strategy. Knowing this, some agencies will spearhead your blogging efforts to help better position your business. However, it’s a major red flag when SEO companies give you duplicate content or low quality content. For example, let’s say you owned an auto business. In an effort to rank you higher, they may be using the same blog posts and changing small details like the make and model of a car they’re highlighting in the post. However, these duplicate posts can only hurt you in the long-run.

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John is a serial entrepreneur and writer who is passionate about helping small businesses launch and grow. His work has been featured in Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Forbes.