Red Flag Warnings to Look For When Hiring an SEO Company

Written by Nick Stamoulis

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The growing influence of organic search rank on business success has correlated with a growth in SEO companies. There’s certainly no shortage of them. Unfortunately, the industry isn’t regulated. Anyone can essentially call themselves an SEO professional, which is why if you’re working with an SEO firm or are in the market for one, you need to understand what separates the good from the bad. Here are 4 SEO company red flags. If any seem familiar, you might want to switch providers:

You don’t know what they’re doing

We’ve spoken to so many prospects over the years that couldn’t tell us exactly what their current or former SEO firm was doing. They might have had a vague idea of what they were supposed to be doing, but no actual proof. Who would ever pay for this kind of service? An SEO client should know what their firm is doing month to month, especially since they should be approving the work. An SEO firm should always get the OK before making website changes, publishing content, posting in social media, or securing any link on behalf of a client. In addition, the firm should be delivering SEO reports on an agreed upon, regular basis, such as once a month or quarterly.

You can’t reach them

Your SEO firm should always be accessible to you. Yes, you might have regularly scheduled meetings, but things can pop up from time to time that necessitate communication. When you reach out to your account manager, you should receive email or phone call follow up in a timely manner. Going days or weeks (!) without hearing from them means that they aren’t very respectful of your needs.

They guarantee placement

It’s frustrating, but there truly are no guarantees in SEO. There are just too many moving parts that can’t be controlled. For example, the search engines are always changing their algorithms, competitors are always making moves, and search results are largely personalized based on things like search history and location. Google publicly cautions against working with any SEO professional that guarantees rankings.

They only offer long term contracts

Every SEO company will have a different business model. An SEO contract isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it can protect both parties and outline what will be done in a given timeframe, but we caution against working with a firm that only signs long (year+) contracts. A lot can happen in a year, especially in SEO! You want to be working with a firm you are comfortable with and a year is a long time to get trapped in a contract that isn’t doing it for you.

While the overall impression of the SEO industry improved after most of the scummy SEO firms closed shop once Google severely cracked down on black hat SEO practices, it’s still important to consider whether you’re working with a trustworthy firm. If any of these red flags sound familiar, it might be time to explore other options.


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