As the digital marketing industry continues to expand at exponential rates, we see a number of companies coming out of the technological woodwork with inflated promises that they cannot effectively deliver on. Because of this, we are seeing more clients than ever who have been burned in the past and are now skeptical of agencies that have the resources and expertise to get the job done right.
SEO Scams: What To Look For
Avoiding an SEO scam can be challenging if you don't know what to look for. These are the red flags that should send you running in the opposite direction when you are in the market for a reputable SEO agency.
If an agency tells you that they can guarantee you #1 rankings, you should be wary. Google itself says that no one can guarantee a ranking of any sort. Google has rigorously developed it's algorithms over the years to deliver search engine results pages (SERP) that best provide what a consumer is looking for. Every new search query returns the most updated and accurate SERP for that specific searcher, so it is impossible to guarantee the #1 spot for any search query.
Any Promise Without Industry Knowledge
An agency that guarantees rankings is irresponsible at best, however, an agency that is willing to make any kind of ranking without having a deep understanding of your industry is another red flag that should warrant skepticism. Some industries have significantly higher competition than others. Without extensive research of how your website compares to that of your competitors, any promise is nothing more than a guess.
Fast Turn Around Times
Search engine optimization is a process. Unlike some of the other digital marketing tactics that can deliver more immediate results, SEO requires strong bones with robust supplementary content to deliver any kind of results. A reputable SEO agency will take the time to research your industry, find opportunities for growth and weaknesses that can be improved. They will then develop a strategy that encompasses a variety of best practices to deliver the results you are looking for. Then, once all of these steps have been implemented, it is time to hand the project over to the search engines to index and evaluate.
Not only is SEO a slow-growing process, but it is also on-going. Search engine optimization is not a quick fix. A reputable SEO agency will continuously analyze the data to keep the optimization up-to-date. A limited or specific time frame, as well as promises of one-time-only, are signs of an SEO scam that will not only not deliver the results you are seeking, but also potentially result in penalties from search engines.
A favorite tactic of SEO scammers is to claim insider knowledge or connections with search engines like Google. All webmasters have to follow the same protocols to be recognized by Google and there is no special relationship or connection that provides one site or webmaster priority over another.
Additionally, Google is constantly updating, even more quickly now that artificial intelligence is involved in the ranking of pages. With such a complex system determining rankings, an SEO agency that claims insider knowledge is almost assuredly a scam. Rather, you should look for an agency that stays up-to-date with search engine updates and can share that knowledge with you – which brings us to our next point.
Lack Of Transparency
Any lack of transparency – whether with references, pricing, or techniques should set off the alarm bells. Because SEO is such a complex process, there are many experts out there who have done extensive research and published information regarding what works and what doesn't. The best practices of SEO are well-documented, so an agency that is unwilling to help you understand the process is likely just in it for the money and will utilize black hat techniques that may result in penalties to your site. To put it frankly, there is no secret strategy to successful SEO. A reputable agency will be willing to outline their techniques for you and answer any questions you may have.
Black Hat Techniques
Black hat techniques in the SEO world are a way of cheating the system. While they may work in the short-term, it almost always comes back to burn you. The downfalls of black hat techniques could span anywhere from poor user experience that sends searchers to your competitors all the way to penalties from the search engines themselves that prevent your site from ranking. Be cautious of agencies that mention outdated techniques and don't be afraid to ask questions, especially if you are unfamiliar with SEO.
Finding The Right SEO Agency
When it comes down to it, an SEO agency that seems too good to be true probably is. Successful SEO is not a perfect science and the development is ongoing. The hallmarks of a reputable SEO agency include:
A willingness and ability to answer questions
An active understanding of any business-specific needs and the SEO economy
Rransparency throughout the partnership
A portfolio of successful clients
Well-rounded capabilities, including supplementary digital marketing tactics
A good SEO can help your website reach peak performance. Unfortunately, for every reputable agency, there are so many more scams. Don't let your website performance be hindered by the downfalls of an SEO scam. Find the right SEO agency the first time by looking for these red flags.
If you're looking to improve your organic rankings by implementing an effective SEO strategy, contact FiG Advertising + Marketing today for a consultation.