Search engine optimisation companies have a bad reputation.
We get it. In fact, Safari Digital was founded to put these companies out of commission. Our team have come from agency-side roles and seen just how shady some marketing companies can be, which is why we’re continually striving to be better.
The profession is improving, the number of ruthless cowboys blazing through the industry to make a quick buck is on the decline. Google’s refined algorithm has exposed the SEO companies that have cheated themselves and their clients to the top of the search engine results pages for short term gain.
Not all marketing agencies are trying to run an SEO scam with unsuspecting business owners. There are plenty of reputable marketing firms in Australia (including us) who help thousands of businesses to achieve real, business-changing results.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a small business looking for greater online visibility in your local area, or you’re on the AFR Fast 100 list looking to dominate national and international search. You need to work with a marketing company who gives a stuff about your long term success.
So, what can you do to avoid shady SEO providers, and how can you find one invested in your long term success? We’ve put together a list of 7 signs to look out for when you partner with an SEO agency or SEO consultant.
1. Your SEO Company is Unresponsive
Are your emails and phone calls going unanswered? If your answer is ‘Yes’, then it’s time to rethink your decision to work with that provider.
Getting updates and having a clear line of communication with your chosen SEO agency is one of the cornerstones to a productive (and profitable) SEO campaign. Talking to a different consultant or getting handballed between account managers every time you pick up the phone is a sure-fire sign that you’re just another number on the books for your agency.
Before you blame your account manager, think about this; Account managers are up against the wall in a big agency. Sometimes forced to juggle more than 50 different clients in a big agency, account managers are some of the hardest-working (and lowest paid) people in an agency, which ultimately affects the clients.
Working with an SEO agency versus having an in-house SEO team is a trade-off. Working with an SEO agency means having access to the brightest minds and best SEO tools in the industry for a fraction of the cost of an in-house consultant. But, on the other hand, you have less access to the agency than you would a fulltime, in-house consultant.
The trade-off means that you get less communication, but your SEO provider should not be unreachable. Having scheduled meetings and a reasonable turn-around-time for emails is not a luxury – it should be part of the service.
While it may not be an SEO scam, engaging in an SEO campaign with a marketing company that does not have the time to work with your business is a waste of time.
2. Your SEO Agency Is Obsessed with “Technical SEO” Fixes
Technical SEO is essential. But, how long does it take to carry out technical SEO fixes for a website? 1-month, 2-months, 6-months?
The size, build, and age of your website will impact the number of technical SEO fixes that are required to help your site perform at its best. There is no definitive timeline, but you should be wary of an SEO company that says they’re continually making “technical SEO fixes” for your website.
Technical SEO makes it easy for Google to crawl, index, and understand the information displayed on your website.
SEO scammers often disguise no-work as technical SEO work. You know why? Because clients can’t always see completed work and they rely on the technical naivety of their clients to hide their lack of real work.
Don’t get too bogged down in technical fixes. The law of diminishing returns can definitely be applied in technical SEO.
Yes, several technical elements can be enhanced to improve the ranking potential of your website. Still, for most businesses (eCommerce, aside) it should not be a project that requires significant ongoing work.
3. SEO Scam Companies Promise Hundreds of Links Each Month
Building high-quality backlinks are one of the most challenging and time-consuming elements of an SEO campaign. It requires research, outreach, copywriting, and countless unread emails to land links that are going to improve the performance of your website.
One high-authority link is more valuable than 10,000 low-quality links. In fact, thousands of low-quality links are a sure-fire sign of an SEO scam and are going to do more harm than zero backlinks.
In 2012, Google rolled out its Penguin update. For SEO companies, the Google Penguin update was a game-changer. The updated algorithm exposed low-quality websites that had created 1,000’s of low-quality links to ‘game the system’. Since 2012, Google has continued to refine their algorithm so that sites that build engage in ‘black hat link building’ are de-ranked or even de-indexed from the search results pages.
Link building is amongst the most important ranking factors in SEO. Behind on-page content, we consider link building to be the most potent ways to improve organic search visibility. When done correctly, building high-quality links can skyrocket rankings, increase website authority and dramatically increase organic search traffic.
Link-building is unpredictable. On a good month, Safari Digital might be able to build more than a dozen links for our clients, on a slow month, this number could be significantly lower. White hat link building is unpredictable. If your SEO partner is promising to deliver a certain amount of links each month – be very careful.
4. Your SEO Partner Does Not Ask You About Your Conversion Goals
Working with a new client means understanding their business and their goals. Before we start working with a business, we need to know how they measure success and what their conversion look like before we can determine if we are the right fit for their business.
The first conversation that you have with an SEO consultant or agency should be like an interview. The SEO agency or consultant needs to learn as much as possible about your business before deciding whether they are the right fit.
Be careful of agencies who are willing to work with you without knowing about your goals or reason behind wanting to employ their services. Companies that are running an SEO scam don’t care about your conversion goals – only about getting their invoices paid on time.
At Safari Digital, we have a rigorous screening process to ensure that we are the right fit for our clients. In some cases, SEO is not the best way for a business to invest their marketing budget. If we believe that there are better ways for that company to achieve an increase in business – we let them know.
5. SEO Scammers Can’t Explain Their Strategy or ‘Reveal Secrets’
Your SEO company should be able to explain (in simple terms) what work is being completed on your website. If they are unwilling or unable to provide you with a monthly breakdown of deliverables, then that should raise some red flags.
Are your questions being met with one of the following answers? If you answer yes to any of the below questions, you could be involved in an SEO scam:
· We can’t reveal what we’re doing – our strategy is the secret to our success
· We’ve poured our time and resources into figuring out the algorithm; we can’t share it with anyone.
· Our industry does not allow us to disclose any strategies
· It’s complicated and tough to explain
Search engine optimisation is time-consuming and resource-intensive. It takes a lot of time, effort, and research to achieve results. However, there is no secret formula. Your SEO agency should be able to explain the strategy behind the work being carried out. If your SEO consultant can’t explain their SEO strategy in layman’s terms, then they probably don’t understand it that well themselves.
6. They Don’t Ask for Access to Anything
On-site SEO, performance research, and technical SEO improvements require access to your CMS, reporting programs, and hosting provider. Before we begin working with a new client, we need access to the following programs:
· Your website CMS login details
· Access to website hosting information
· Access to your DNS settings
· Access to your Google Search Console
· Access to your Google Analytics
· Access to your Google My Business Profile
If your SEO agency does not have access to these programs, then you have to wonder what they are doing. If they do not have access to your CMS, there is no way that they can perform effective on-site SEO.
SEO agencies and consultants that do not request access to any of these tools are (more than likely) running an SEO scam or going to engage in low-quality link building schemes that will hurt your site in the long run.
7. They are Generating Traffic, But No Leads
Not all keywords are created equal. We hear so many people say; “I don’t need SEO; my website is already ranking on Google”. While that may be true, your website must be ranking for the RIGHT keywords. This article outlines different types of keywords and the difference between informational, navigational, and transactional intent keywords.
Before commencing your SEO campaign, your SEO provider should define exactly your target keywords and explain the strategy behind their choices. The goal is to generate valuable, conversion-oriented traffic for your website. If you are getting leads from outside your service area, or not getting any enquiries/conversion, then your SEO provider is targeting the wrong keywords.
It is not reasonable to expect every website visitor to convert to a sale or enquiry. General website visits to informational resources are still an essential by-product of content marketing. Low converting traffic does not inherently mean SEO scam; however, your keyword strategy should be targeted towards conversions – not only website visits.
The majority of website visits should be directed towards a transactional landing page or resource page that helps users move towards a predetermined conversion goal. If the majority of your site visits are directed towards a content marketing resource or landing page that is not assisting your conversion goals, then it’s time to talk to your SEO provider.
Find out if Your SEO Company is Trying to Screw You
Want to see if your SEO company is trying to help you or trying to screw you? Get in touch with Safari Digital for a free website audit and SEO consultation.