When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) there is a thin line between incompetence and a scam. Too many people are getting ripped off online and this is simply because they cannot tell the difference between a genuine SEO expert and a rip-off. Hardly a day goes by without some sordid tale about an SEO debacle. A recent example: A local business was paying a monthly fee of $1000 for “SEO services”, but never got a performance report or any proof of services rendered. Instead what they got at the end of the month was an invoice every month for six months. At the end of the service period, the company dug deeper and discovered that they only got 50-ish leads (none of which resulted in a sale). Huh?? In this case, the decision-makers in the company should have stopped paying for the “SEO services” long before the end of the service period. But, the ultimate blame falls on the “SEO snake oil” provider who promised rankings and conversions without caring about actual results.
There are a number of ways you can tell you are getting ripped off, but here are 5 signs that your SEO Company is selling you snake oil:
1. They make unrealistic guarantees
This is usually the first sign of an obvious scam or evidence of lack of professionalism. Most experienced SEO practitioners know with 100% certainty that no one can guarantee an organic position on Google anymore. Due to the constant changes in Google’s algorithm, it is uncertain what your SEO results will be in the search listings. When you get a specific guaranteed placement, it’s an immediate sign of selling SEO snake oil.
2. Your SEO provider cannot answer some basic questions
When your contact person or SEO rep has little knowledge or experience you can tell from their inability to answer basic questions. Ask questions like: Does my website need OnPage optimization? or Should I change my meta keywords and is it still relevant? The response you get will reveal whether they understand your requirements or just speak the SEO lingo.
Of course, they may have an analytical mind and provide solid answers. But, you can ask as many questions as you want based on an analysis of your websites’ SEO status.
When your SEO provider does not have past examples of their work, be worried. Every professional starts somewhere right? If you want to succeed online, you will want to hire only the best. With SEO, trial and error can get your website banned, so if your provider cannot give you any examples of previous work they’ve done, how can you be assured that they can do a good job for you?
4. They do not provide you with a specific scope of work
If they don’t commit to any specific scope of work then they are SEO snake oil merchants. An unwillingness to demonstrate proficiency until money changes hands or a contract is signed is ridiculous and no one should fall for this SEO scam. In SEO, assessing ability before a project begins is the same as when a doctor tells you that they can remove a tumor in a hard to reach area. If the doctor tells you that you have an 80% chance of survival, then this is the assurance that you need to go ahead with surgery. Your new SEO hire should commit to making your website more compliant to a certain degree and state what changes will be made.
Many skilled experts will recommend several modifications and optimization tasks, just by glancing at your website.
5. No knowledge of backlinking
Here’s the deal, after you’re done optimizing your website, what’s left are the external links. Backlinks, guest posts, and all other content that makes your website relevant to the search engines are key to ranking. These links will supply the juice you need to lift your website, and if your provider is really an SEO specialist, they’ll already have an idea where to look and what to do.
These are just 5 of the many red-lights to look out for when assessing the competence of your SEO company. To reiterate, there are many ethical, efficient, and competent SEO companies available today. Choosing one of these genuine providers means that you can improve your site’s search ranking and get a sustainable SEO service that will be compliant with current Google algorithm.
A combined 20+ years of digital & traditional marketing, web design, marketing strategy, SEO, PPC, marketing automation, and inbound marketing.