Digital marketing is always changing, rapidly adapting to shifting consumer trends and access to new technologies. This makes it exceptionally easy for those with... well, let's just call it less-than-altruistic intent to try to hop in and make a few bucks without actually providing any lasting value for business owners like you.
Wondering if there are any signs your SEO company is a scam that you should watch out for? There absolutely are, and we've put together a list of bad habits your SEO company might be hiding.
Protect yourself—and your business—by knowing what to look for.
1. They're Fast Talkers Who Don't Give You Time to Think
Working with an "SEO company" that uses so much marketing industry jargon that you can barely keep up? Do they seem impatient with your questions, changing the subject or or pushing for you to make decisions now now now? Do they seem annoyed when you say you need a little more information?
Every industry has its own lingo, and there's nothing wrong with a company using some industry jargon! However, if your SEO company can't seem to break things down into layman's terms to make it a little easier for you to understand, business owner beware.
It's entirely possible that they're hoping you'll be so dazzled by their jargon that you won't look any closer... or that they don't really know what they're doing, and they're just sort of hoping phrases like "contextual marketing" will make them sound more competent than they are.
2. Guaranteed #1 on Google in a Month?! Why, That Seems Too Good to Be True!
We're sorry to have to tell you this: if your SEO company is guaranteeing you a place right at the top of Google's results in a month or less, they're probably lying to you.
Effective digital marketing, just like every other business, involves a certain investment of time and resources in order to generate positive results. However, flash-in-the-pan "SEO companies" spring up seemingly overnight and throwing out SEO guarantees like glitter.
Just like glitter, those guarantees don't amount to much, and somebody else ends up having to clean up the mess.
There are a ton of different factors that affect what drives this business or that to the top of organic search results — your geographic area, how compelling and effective your content marketing is, how many competitors are in your area and what they're doing for digital marketing, and more.
No one can guarantee a top spot on organic Google search results... not even Google.
You should definitely expect to see improvement from your digital marketing company's strategies, but a reputable agency will be upfront about the fact that these things take time. Your money is best spent paying for proven tactics that lead to measurable results.
When it comes to an SEO company guarantees results they can't possibly provide, hoping you won't find out? Delete that company's email and find an honest agency.
3. They Rely on "Black Hat SEO" (A Big Fat SE-NO)
After reading the last section, you may be wondering why an SEO company would think they could even get away with those instant-results guarantees. The answer is, by relying on what we call "black hat SEO" practices. These spammy, scammy marketing bad habits do accomplish high rankings in a super-short time period... but they're also heavily penalized by Google. You'll wake up one day to discover your entire online presence has been removed from the search engine entirely.
Then, the SEO company that promised you all these amazing results suddenly stops returning your emails.
Getting blacklisted by Google is a Very Big Deal. Business owners who get on Google's bad side could receive heavy penalties, including possibly being kicked off Google permanently.
Don't get taken advantage of by a black hat SEO company that just wants to make a quick buck and run. Make sure your chosen marketing agency is on the level.
4. Your SEO Company Only Seems to Care About Social Media
We're the first to declare the importance of an active social media presence! While not every social media marketing platform is perfect for every business, staying engaged with customers using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other platforms is a great boost for businesses.
It's just not the only, or even the most important, piece of the SEO puzzle.
Optimized social pages and consistent activity on a variety of platforms gives you a definite SEO boost, but without relevant, authoritative content that Google and other search engines recognize as valuable? Your SEO company is just throwing words into the wind.
Search engine algorithms look for over 600 factors when they compile results for each and every search your potential customer may make. An "SEO Company" that just wants to manage your Facebook page isn't performing the work you're paying them for.
5. Your SEO Company Seems Allergic to Progress Reports
With digital marketing done right, there will be plenty of progress to report on. After all, search engine optimization and content marketing generate massive amounts of data to sift through! You can see how website traffic is trending month-over-month, whether or not organic leads and conversions are rising, year-to-year comparisons, pay-per-click results, email marketing open rates and click-through rates... the list goes on and on!
If you're not receiving regular progress reports and updates from your SEO company, you may want to look more closely into what exactly they're doing for you. You may discover that they don't want to put together progress reports simply because they don't want to admit they're not actually making any progress.
In the end, everything done online under your company's name reflects back on you and your business. If your online presence is developed as part of an honest partnership with your marketing company, all of your online activity—your website, social profiles, and SEO tactics—will reflect that integrity.
Don't waste your time and money on a company that promises cheap SEO results but who don't deal with their clients honestly or represent them accurately.
Download our whitepaper, 10 SEO Mistakes To Avoid During Your Next Website Redesign, to learn more about good SEO practices.