For many SEO companies, ripping off business owners is so profitable that they’ve built a business model around it.
Fraudulent SEO companies offer cookie-cutter plans, dupe easy targets, make you sign contracts with confusing fine print, and move on to the next target after their victim realizes they’ve been ripped off.
It’s enough to make any business owner bitter and develop contempt of SEO.
Just read some SEO horror stories on Reddit. You’ll quickly see that SEO agency rip-offs are a real thing (which explains terms like 'SEO is evil', which you’ll see being tossed around).
Fortunately, even if you have minimal SEO knowledge (which is just a Google search away), you can use these indicators to tell whether your SEO Company is fraudulent.
They Offer a Cookie-Cutter Approach and Don’t Ask You for Information
We can’t stress enough that each business requires a unique SEO strategy. There are just so many factors involved in good SEO that one size can’t possibly fit all. If you bought an SEO package from a company, reconsider your decision.
- A typical example of a package would look like:
- 1,000 backlinks
- 100 blog posts
- 1,000 blog comments
- 1,000 forum comments
- 200 directory submissions
- 600 article submissions
The numbers and deliverables may be different, but you get the idea. This approach doesn't require the SEO company to know anything about your business needs.
SEO requires you and your SEO company’s combined efforts. Your SEO company will require access to your Google Analytics, Google Webmaster tools, previous audits of your website, your current strategy, and what your previous SEO company has done (if you worked with one).
A great SEO company will offer you lots of advice on how to increase your rankings, such as:
- Disavow spammy links
- Integrate your social media profiles
- Optimize your site for mobile
- Add alt tags to images
Without a discussion, an SEO company can’t know your needs. If you start working with such an SEO company, be aware that they may not have your best interests at heart.
They Keep You in the Dark About Their Work
A good SEO company will be completely transparent with you. Reputable agencies have ways to keep clients up to date with the work they’ve done, such as:
- Online collaboration tools like Asana and Trello
- Their CRM
- Online spreadsheets
If an SEO company says they can’t share the details of their methods, it’s a major red flag. You don’t want spammy links from irrelevant and shady websites, as they might give an initial boost to your website traffic but will hurt your rankings in the long run.
Google updates ensure that only websites that employ ethical SEO practices rise to the top, which leads to our third point:
Suspicious Backlinks and the Wrong Incoming Traffic
Link-building is a common tactic used by SEO agencies to increase a website’s authority.
When done right, your website will get a major boost. But doing it requires a lot of effort. And putting in the effort is just what shady SEO companies don’t want to do.
To get you quick results and a transient increase in traffic, some SEO companies resort to spammy suspicious link-building sites. If you see links coming from websites that are entirely outside of your niche and language, then it’s almost certain that your SEO company is ripping you off.
Many SEO companies own these domains and stuff lots of links into your website, which doesn’t require a lot of effort and isn’t worth your money.
Owing to spammy link-building and ranking for the wrong (read: low competition and low conversion) keywords, the traffic to their website can increase, but your conversion rate will remain the same or decrease. That means the people coming to your website are not your ideal customers.
Ranking higher does not mean more sales. Period.
They Guarantee You the #1 Spot in the Search Engines
No legit SEO company will guarantee the #1 or even the #2 or #3 spot in search results. SEO is dynamic, and your rankings can change (go up or down) overnight due to:
- Google updates
- The SEO efforts of your SEO company
- The SEO efforts of your competitors
If you hired an SEO company because they guaranteed you the #1 spot, they’re probably ripping you off. You can be sure you won't be ranking at the top anytime soon.
A good SEO company will inform you about your ranking potential and work hard to give you better conversions, higher rankings, and maximum ROI.
The best SEO agencies are transparent and honest with their clients. They will tell you about your potential clearly and upfront.
You’re paying them to be the expert. A knowledgeable SEO expert will drive the conversation about improving the ranking and conversion rate of your website.
Good SEO agencies never evade any questions you ask and explain everything to you in simple terms.
At studio1c, we’re motivated by the possibility of your success. We’ll custom-design a plan to suit the unique needs of your business. If you have any questions, feel free to call or email us and start the conversation.