Yes, it is an unfortunate truth that there are some… “not so great” service providers in the SEO world.
What you have to know is that good SEO works. You’ve been burned, possibly several times and finally concluded that SEO and internet marketing is a racket. But it is not true. The concept is that the search engines are kind of like the phonebooks and catalogues of old. When people are looking for a product or service, they jump onto the internet instead of cracking open Big Ole’ Yellow. And boy do they research. Your customer is very educated these days.
You know you need to be found in Google, but how do you not get screwed…again?
Here are some of the pitfalls I have heard: SEO Agencies with no customer service, no communication, don’t care, don’t know how to do SEO, don’t do the work at all, don’t know marketing, don’t know biz dev, don’t know advertising, have scary long-term contracts and huge up-front fees. Do I need to go on? I have heard the horror stories- worse than yours, I guarantee.
Here are some simple common sense things for you to think with before hiring an SEO Agency, to help you weed out some of the good from the bad:
- Get rid of the idea that it doesn’t work, because it does. Not ALL SEO companies are bad.
- Try to find someone who specializes in your industry. If no one does, find someone competent enough to research it and figure it out.
- Do they know the technical aspects of SEO?
- Do they know marketing, advertising and/or business development, at all (outside of SEO)?
- Do they answer their phones? And not just the sales guys…
- Do you even like them?
- Do you just get a bad vibe and then ignore it? I can’t tell you how many right decisions I made by vibe alone- trust yourself.
- Ask all of your questions and get them answered. And I mean all of them.
- Ask more questions.
- Don’t let someone snake you with a bunch of technical jargon to confuse you into a sale. I hate this sales tactic. Make sure you understand what you are buying.
- Don’t let someone use scare tactics. This is slimy sales. They will say your current SEO is or is not doing things; it’s hurting your business and fear, fear, fear. What kind of service provider do you think they will be, if this is how they work?
- Look at their website. Search for them in their industry or niche market. Do they rank high? At least high enough so you can see they know what they’re doing? I have seen SEO’s whose own sites were an utter SEO failure- yet charge thousands. In other words, look at who you are hiring- don’t just listen.
- Is their website just another faceless, nameless company? Not that those are all bad either, but it is nice to see the faces of who you are hiring once in a while.
- Do they have references? If they have to protect their clients (which some do and can’t send client data), can they at least give you some testimonials and reviews?
- Find someone who has a successful SEO relationship and get referred to THAT company. If that SEO company was worthy of a referral from your friend or associate, that’s a good start.
- Run from the companies that promise all this overnight-first-page garbage.
I am sure there is more advice I could give, but I want you to notice that none of the above has any technical anything involved. It is common sense. It may not be perfect, but hopefully will help you weed out some of the shysters.
When you hire a company for SEO, you need to realize a few things. Google, Yahoo, Bing- the search engines, do not change overnight. It takes time. I am not saying you shouldn’t get results, you should. But be reasonable. One or two weeks is not enough when it comes to SEO. No one but Google controls Google.
Spend the time to find a good service provider. Know it will take some time. Work with your provider and, if you found a good one, they will work with you to make it a success. You will know when you find a good one, even though it may take a few phone calls to find them. But, better that than thousands more down the toilet.
Dan York, CEO & Founder