4 Ways to Tell If Your SEO Agency Is Ripping You Off

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

The landscape of SEO is constantly changing and some agencies aren't keeping up. Here are 4 ways to know it's time to find a new agency.

I’m going to be blunt here: you should be very skeptical of any SEO agency you come across.

Why? Because many SEO agencies are simply not legitimate businesses. Yes, I said it. They’re very good at selling people and taking their money, but when it comes to producing real results that are sustainable through Google’s algorithm changes, they are pathetic.

Because things have changed so dramatically, the effectiveness of what’s commonly referred to as SEO has too. SEO (as we used to think of it) is on the way out and unfortunately there are plenty of agencies out there that are still taking advantage of the market’s ignorance.

So how do you know if your agency is legit or not? How can you tell if you’re getting ripped off by an agency stuck in the past doing shady stuff, yet taking thousands of dollars from your business every month?

Below are 4 warning signs that it’s time to find a new agency.

Related Article: SEO Optimize Your Name for a Good First Online Impression

1. Results (or Lack There Of)

Are you seeing actual results? Are you getting a monthly report showing where you were versus where you are now? Has your organic traffic actually increased?

These are obvious questions to ask but so many SEO agencies find manipulate ways to keep you paying money without actually producing results. Watch out for lines like “SEO is a long-term thing,” “we should start seeing ranking improvements in a few months.” The problem is, a few months later you’ll hear the same thing all over again.

If your rankings aren’t going up on a consistent basis, your agency is definitely ripping you off. You should be seeing consistent progress and if they’re doing quality work that’s what you can expect. This doesn’t mean you’ll be on the front page of Google for profitable keywords tomorrow, but it means you should be seeing consistent progress. And yes, over time, you should EXPECT to be on the first page for the keywords that matter most for your business.

2. Google Updates Keep Hurting Your Rankings

Google is changing things up on a daily basis. However, every few months they’ll release major updates. If your rankings keep taking a fall when these major updates happen it means 1 thing: your SEO agency is doing shady stuff and they’re essentially getting “caught” by Google’s changes.

You need to understand that there are many ways of going about SEO. Some ways are totally legit, but most ways are against Google’s policies. If your SEO agency keeps pushing the line with outdated and shady tactics, an update will eventually rock your ranking world - something no business owner should have to deal with.

Related Article: Google Changes its Mind—Again

Be very careful with the SEO agency you go with. If they’re up to no good, your rankings will take major hits every time Google releases a new major update. Your business is legit. Your website is legit. So you need legit SEO work being done, not shady grey and black-hat tactics.

3. They Lack Transparent Reporting

SEO agencies are the kings of secretive, manipulative, and outright lies within their reporting. Most are banking on the fact that you’ll be ignorant, too busy to check their claims and ‘masked’ work item verbiage, or fearful to call them out. If the reports you’re receiving aren’t completely transparent, with completed work items that are detailed, where you know EXACTLY what was done, your SEO agency is likely ripping you off.

As a business owner or operator, you need to demand 100% transparent reporting. If you don’t, your SEO agency might be doing suspect work, or not doing anything all. It sounds extreme but I promise it is happening all the time. Like I said, most of the agencies are not legit businesses.

4. They’re Not Producing Great Content

I got news for you: proper SEO really comes down to creating great content. Whether it’s creating content for your own site, or to be posted on other sites, the only real way to do SEO is to create content that people love.

Related Article: How to Create Content That Actually Gets Read (and Shared)

SEO agencies are infamous for building out junk content in an attempt to manipulate search engines and then posting the content on networks of pseudo blogs. The fact is, you can no longer get cheap search engine traffic by using low quality links, submitting crappy posts to article directories, spamming on forums and leaving annoying spamming blog comments all over the internet.

That doesn’t work anymore. And frankly, that is what most SEO agencies have been doing over the years. Every SEO agency is going to talk a big game (especially during the sales process). Make sure what they’re doing is actually up to date, high quality, white hat, work.

Conclusion

Be very apprehensive of any business that claims they are an SEO agency. Times have changed and you’re likely paying big money out to an agency that is doing more harm than good for your business.

Specially, make sure they are getting you consistent results (no excuses!), that don’t plummet with the next algorithm update, their reporting is completely transparent, and they actually produce great content.

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