Generally speaking, in every industry, there seems to be a dichotomy of the good guys (excellent service providers) and the bad guys (mediocre, fraudulent service providers).
Because of this, our cautionary instincts become extremely sensitive when doing business transactions because we don’t want to end up falling prey to the “bad guys”.
Like any other industry, the SEO profession is filled with shady characters. SEO companies are not at all alike – some are good, some are bad.
The bad news is, most clients do not understand the difference between the two, or lack the inquisitive approach to conduct a thorough comparison of the SEO companies vying for their attention.
Well, this article is exactly what you need – a cheat sheet that helps you understand these differences and detect which SEO companies are bad guys (pretending to be good) by examining their work ethics, rhetorics and industry practices.
What to ask SEO Companies
When delivering their sales pitch, most SEO companies usually give a guarantee. When you ask them about guarantees on your investment, their answers will likely differ. Shady SEOs are quick to give you the following lines: “Massive increase in organic traffic in a matter of days” or “No. 1 Position on Google”.
Why? Because they want you to trust that they can help your website climb atop Google SERPs overnight even if it’s outrageously impossible! Reputable SEOs know website optimisation requires lot of hard work, time and patience, and that there are no shortcuts to SEO success.
These SEO companies therefore tell you upfront that sustainable organic growth and organic traffic which builds your SERPs is highly possible, but only at a gradual, steady pace over the next few months.
The list of an SEO company’s previous clients indicates something about their reputation and workmanship. The golden rule is this: the best never settles for less.
Thus, top performing companies are expected NOT to associate with run of the mill SEO companies, because they want their online presence impeccably maintained and managed by a trustworthy SEO.
A good SEO firm is often the one servicing the brightest corporate names. Just think about this: If they’ve earned the trust of some of the best in another industry, there’s no compelling reason why you shouldn’t trust them too.
So the next time you talk to an SEO agency that rarely has clients or has no client at all, have the courage to say NO.
Social Media Signals
Google has often emphasized the importance of integrating social media into SEO strategies. SEO companies should therefore embrace social media signals as part of the optimization plan, as it has been obvious that SEO and social have become co-dependent over the years.
When an SEO agency walks up to you and sells its SEO services, inquire about its approach to social media.
A black hat SEO usually avoids social spheres and is likely to stutter or go silent about the topic you raised, but reliable SEO companies will tell you about the potential benefits of likes, shares,+1s and retweets in generating site traffic and link building.
Because Google’s algorithm updates (Panda and Penguin) have brutally hurt the rankings of majority of sites on the Web, keeping an eye on algorithm updates is a must for SEO companies.
One of the more critical questions you should ask SEO companies is this – “Do algorithm updates influence your SEO practices?”
SEO companies that introduce major changes to their SEO approach frequently are not to be relied upon, as this habit of introducing chunks of change may indicate uncertainty of optimization techniques, not to mention tendency to use shortcuts and unreliable “trade secrets” which may turn out to be black hat SEO practices banned by Google.
White hat SEO companies with good reputation are confident in their own techniques and abide by Google Webmaster guidelines, but still update themselves with latest releases or changes.
Choosing the Best SEO Companies
If you find yourself having troubles picking potential SEO partners, remember to go over the list to help you choose the best SEO provider. Remember, SEO success does not happen overnight, but with the assistance of good SEO to guide you every step of the way.