Getting what you want takes hard work, and you can’t shortcut success. In all aspects of life you have those who are willing to put in the work to achieve their goals and those that are not. Shortcuts and cheating lead to failure and sadly it happens all the time. When contracting out with an SEO company you would like to trust that they have your company’s best interests in mind, but that’s not always the case. Whether its laziness, a lack of ethics, or just trying to cheat the system, here are nine red flags to let you know your SEO company is doing things wrong.
Where’s the Beef?
First and foremost, once you’ve hired an SEO company, you should be able to call on them at any point and ask them what they’re doing for you specifically to help your ranking. Once called upon, your SEO agency should be able to answer that question with specifics and not generalities. If they respond with, “it’s confidential”or “lots of things” those can be red flags. In the first few months, steady results or a dramatic rise in rankings may be to premature to show, but your SEO company should be able to lay out the specific steps they are performing to get the desired results.
Give and Take
When entering into a contract with an SEO company, you are forming a partnership, meaning you both will have to rely on each other to be successful. Once this relationship has been formed, they will need to gather information from you in order to better understand your business and its practices. This information helps to determine the best course of action for your SEO moving forward. It’s very common for SEO companies to ask for access to things like: Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, important keywords, or even your social media networks. Not saying they will ask for all of these, but if they don’t ask for anything, something is wrong.
Coinciding with asking the business owner for information, the SEO company should also be giving you recommendations to improve your site and presence on the web. These suggestions could be anything ranging from improving your website’s content, to starting several social media accounts, to creating a blog. Again, they may not make a lot of recommendations, but there has to be something your business can improve onto boost your online presence.
Plagiarized or stolen content, also known as “scraped” content is illegal in any form. This generally occurs when SEO companies looking to save money or shortcut web design, steal someone else’s content and post it as their own. Google, along with other search engines are completely against scraped content and are ramping up efforts to eliminate it. Any site found to have plagiarized content on it would be penalized and dropped in the rankings. If you think your content may be scraped, enter a couple lines of the suspicious content and see if other websites pop up on the results. If so, your SEO company is doing things wrong.
Real or Fake?
Have you ever wanted to try a new restaurant in town but weren’t sure if you’d like it, so you went online to read the reviews? Did any of those reviews seem so overly positive that you thought they might be fake? Chances are they could have been. In this day and age you usually get one chance to make a first impression and if the prospective customer’s first impression is a negative review, he or she may never step foot in your establishment. Posting fake reviews are a common tactic used by businesses and even SEO companies to help boost ratings and put your company in good standing in the eyes of the consumer. Sites such as Yelp or Google+ are frequented daily by millions of consumers looking to make a decision on whether they will visit a company or not. If your SEO company is found guilty of posting fake reviews on sites such as these, you open yourself up for penalties and can be removed from certain search indexes altogether.
Fall From Grace
A steady decline in rankings or a significant decrease in traffic can be two key indicators that your SEO company is doing something wrong. Clients should always have an idea of where they fall in the rankings and should always monitor their sites traffic.This helps the clients determine whether or not they are rising or falling in the rankings or in the eyes of the consumer. A fall in the rankings doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem nor does a dip in traffic. However, if these declines are consistent over a period of time it’s time to start asking questions. Contact your SEO agency and ask them what changes have been made prior to and during the decline to help pinpoint the reason for the fall.
Use of Spun Content
Article spinning is when an article is placed in a computer program and spun into hundreds of additional articles by using synonyms in place of keywords, making it appear that new articles have been created. In reality, it’s the same article regurgitated over and over using different lingo. Generally when this occurs, these articles are then spammed across the Web with links that lead back to the creator’s site. Sites posting the spun content have typically been red flagged already by various search engines as “spam.” Acquiring links from these sites does far more harm then good.
Questionable Backlinks and Interlinking
Creating backlinks are a crucial part of successful SEO. When it comes to backlinks, it’s more about quality than quantity. Shady SEO companies have found ways to increase rankings by creating hundreds of backlinks whether it’s through computer programs or sites flagged as “spam.” This has led to Google releasing several updates such as Panda and Penguin to combat this very issue. If the sites hosting your link have nothing to do with the content on your site, or the site is suspicious of being spam, this will create a negative link profile. If your backlink profile is poor, Google will punish your site through a drop in rankings or manual penalty.
Another similar tactic used by unethical SEO companies is interlinking. Similar to backlinking, interlinking creates several backlinks to a large group of websites usually controlled by the same person or company. If the websites being interlinked have content in common or are related to each other then everything is fine. However, if the sites are unrelated and are linked together for the sole purpose of strengthening the link profile, Google will notice and will take the necessary steps to penalize the parties involved. If your profile has questionable links or is part of an interlinking scheme your SEO company could be doing things wrong.
Whose keywords are these?
Every company has keywords associated with the content of their sites. Google Analytics keeps track of the organic keywords associated with your site and lets you know how these words affect traffic and position. If for some reason the organic keywords change drastically, there could be a problem. There are two things to keep an eye on in this scenario. The first is if your new keywords begin increasing traffic significantly and the second is if your former high-ranking keywords become non-existent. In either scenario, your SEO company may be doing something wrong. Not all traffic is good traffic and you want individuals visiting your site for the right reasons.
All eight of these red flags are good indicators that your SEO company is doing things wrong. When you enter a contract with an SEO company, don’t just forget about the online presence of your business and let them handle everything. Stay involved, ask questions, and know exactly what they are doing to help you rank higher and increase traffic.
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