Watch out for these red flags with SEO services

By Tim Priebe on September 6, 2017

By Tim Priebe on September 6, 2017

SEO is a popular topic these days, as it should be. Search engine rankings are important for businesses, and you should be actively working to improve your ranking over time.

But with that popularity comes those companies who are less than honest about their SEO services and how they plan to improve your ranking. Here are a few red flags to watch out for when picking an SEO company.

They guarantee results.

This really is the biggest red flag, because nothing is guaranteed with the ever-changing algorithms of online search. Plus, you don’t know what your competitors are doing to boost their own SEO, which is another factor beyond your control in terms of your ranking.

If an SEO company promises that you’ll be on the first page of Google in a certain number of weeks, you should either politely decline their services or, at the very least, ask a ton of questions about how exactly they plan to accomplish that. Which leads to our next red flag…

They don’t (or won’t) explain their strategy.

Sure, you may be looking to outsource your SEO because the very thought of it makes your head spin a little, but that doesn’t mean you should be completely in the dark. A reputable SEO company should explain their strategy in a way you can understand it, as well as provide updates about action steps and results.

What content are they posting? What are they changing about the structure of your website to improve SEO? What links have they secured for you? A surprising number of business owners don’t know what their SEO firm is actually doing on their behalf, sometimes because they simply haven’t asked. But if you ask and the company brushes you off, start thinking about other options.

Their content stinks.

Quality content that people want to read is critical for SEO success, but there are plenty of SEO companies out there who will keyword stuff a blog post to the point it’s almost unreadable. Whether they’re sourcing the content from a computer program or from a person with limited writing skills, bad content will come back to haunt you.

Ask for a list of clients for whom they write content and go review the content posted directly to those websites. If the writing is mediocre or the blog posts are stuffed with strings of keywords, move on to the next option on your list.

They don’t take time to talk about your business goals.

Plenty of SEO firms offer one-size-fits-all packages. And while those standard packages may work for some businesses, it’s a red flag if the company wants to force its package on you without truly taking time to understand your business and your goals.

There are plenty of businesses who can tell you about a so-called SEO firm that over-promised and under-delivered. Keep these red flags in mind as you talk to SEO companies and take the time to find one that fits your business.


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  1. Avatar Jay Holmes on September 6, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    I always told people, if a media representative “guaranteed” an increase in business, take a sharp stick and poke them with it until they leave your office and never come back.

    • Tim Priebe Tim Priebe on September 7, 2017 at 8:27 am

      I agree 100%, Jay. Of course, some companies (including ours) provide a money-back guarantee. If that’s the case, make sure you get it in writing!

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