Not all SEO agencies are the same. Many are using black-hat methods and dodgy sales tactics.
SEO and digital marketing agency support is notoriously expensive. Also, SEO agencies often use shady techniques which could seriously damage your ranking and domain reputation.
Below, I will cover the types of SEO support you should avoid and how you can improve your rankings and your website reputation (organically).
It is not uncommon for UK SEO agencies to charge in the region of £700 per day. Unfortunately, you won’t be getting your money’s worth. Instead, you can expect only one member of staff to be working on your site.
To make this matter worse, much of the time, many of these so called “SEO executives” are fresh out of university and have no prior experience in digital marketing.
To keep costs low, SEO agencies frequently hire new graduates and ditch more experienced members of staff.
Black-hat SEO is a form of search engine manipulation that breaks the guidelines of Google and other search engines. Google openly penalises websites which are found to be intentionally manipulating the search engine results.
If your SEO agency is using any of the following Black-hat methods, your website is at risk:
If your SEO talks about obtaining links, or articles (not from a professional copy-writer) this should ring alarm bells. There are no short-cuts in white-hat SEO. Content should be of high quality and backlinks should occur naturally.
Black-hat SEO is quicker, easier and pays more (per-hour) than white-hat techniques. It is simply faster to push a site up the search rankings if you can manipulate Google’s algorithms.
Black-hat methods don’t always work and even when they do, your website can be damaged, long term. Any reputation your website may have earned over time can be lost and you may have to recover from a manual penalty.
It may take months just to fix what they have done.
SEOs will often complete high volumes of small, insignificant tasks to convince clients that their time has been well spent. One task which is often pushed aside is proper keyword research. Keyword research is essential and should be frequently carried out.
As progress is made with specific keywords and phrases, it is important to pursue and explore those topics in more depth, using them as part of the developing content strategy.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to explain to clients why it is necessary to carry out large tasks repeatedly. That is why I believe in constant communication with the client rather than a monthly report.
It is standard practice for SEO agencies to provide a written monthly progress report to the client. This is counter-productive. It often takes longer to write about the tasks you have completed and, in our time working within agencies, it takes half the day just to write the report. For “low-tier” clients, that is potentially half of their paid time wasted.
For the purpose of retention, SEO Executives are asked to brush over negative results and embellish the positives while reporting. Clients are therefore encouraged to believe their website is doing better than it is.
When talking to the agency, ask what methods they use to improve search rankings. If anything sounds shady, take a step back and do your research.
Improved rankings come from a good content strategy, a ton of research & testing and a solid (technically sound) website. Anything else may leave your website and your business in deep water.