Choosing Your SEO – 5 Red Flags to Watch For

Choosing Your SEO – 5 Red Flags to Watch For


Finding the right Search Engine Optimization specialist for outsourcing can be a confusing process, especially if you’re not already familiar with current  SEO  practices. A Google Search for “ seo  company” yields 1,720,000 results – so how do you separate the wheat from the chafe?

A high percentage of my current and past clients have been contacted, at one point or another, by unscrupulous “ SEOs ” or “local listing services,” who offer #1 Search Engine rankings for the low, low cost of $199.95 per month (or thereabouts). Some of my clients paid these firms for their services, effectively throwing away X amount of dollars which could have been better spent elsewhere.

Google’s Webmaster Help Central has a detailed entry about Search Engine Optimization, where they go over questions you should ask your prospective  SEO . Highlights include:

* Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?

* What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe? How do you measure your success?

* What are your most important  SEO  techniques?

* How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?

While those are very important questions, what sort of answers should set your Spidey sense a-tingle?

#1. “We’ll rank you #1 for your keywords within 20 days!”

If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it. Back in the real world,  SEO  is a labor-intensive process that requires a significant time investment – and even if you spend every waking moment for five years trying to improve a site’s ranking, there’s no guarantee it will ever make it to #1 for a highly competitive keyword. The fact of the matter is,  SEOs  don’t have access to the algorithms that determine site ranking, and there is no way to exert direct control over a page’s placement in the SERPs. Be very wary of any companies that guarantee rankings, as such a guarantee is unprofessional and unqualified.

More than likely, you’ll end up entirely fleeced for the cash, or you’ll have a website which ranks #1 for a search term which no one has ever used. Both give you an identical result: no Return On Investment (ROI).

#2. “Dear webmaster, I noticed that your website has very low rankings on 100 search engines!”

Unsolicited business to business emails are a staple of poor quality  SEOs . By deceptively creating a sense of urgency, many uninformed webmasters fall prey to bogus companies. Not only can you potentially waste a lot of money on their non-existent services, but changes which they do make to your website can actually hurt its ranking.

Another common sales tactic these companies use is to scrape phone numbers off of small business pages. One of their sales reps then calls and often pretends to be interested in purchasing your product or service before they give you their sales pitch. You wouldn’t trust a plumber who cold-called you with a hidden motive, why would you trust an  SEO  who does the same?

#3. “We’ll submit your website to 8000 search engines a month!”

Remember that question about  SEO  techniques? If something like this is at the top of their list, approach with caution. 90.9% of Searches made in the month of August, 2008, were made through three providers: Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. And guess what? If your pages are indexed on these three SEs, they’re probably indexed on all the other ones, too.

I started work earlier this year with a client who was paying $500/month to an “ SEO  company” to perform monthly SE submissions. And that was it. No onpage optimization, no marketing, no analytics, just submissions. Needless to say, we stopped that right away.

#4. “Our  SEO  frim has been successfully servicing the mettro area for 90 years!”

One of the first things you should do when considering an  SEO  is to look at their website. If their web copy is unprofessional, littered with poor spelling and generally unpersuasive, you shouldn’t expect anything better for your own site.

For many  SEOs  (and other online service providers) their website is the first point of contact they have with potential clients. If it’s screaming “no high school education!” at you, run away. Fast.

#5. “Yes, we offer linkbuilding services. Right after you link to us from your homepage!”

The  SEO  company you choose to employ should not require you to link to their pages at any point. It’s their job to drive targeted traffic to you, not the other way around. Read any contract you’re requested to sign very carefully, as some companies will sneak in extra stipulations which require a Footer link, etc.

Similarly, as the person signing the check, it’s your choice whether or not you want your company included in an  SEO’s  online portfolio. There are any number of reasons you may not want your competition to know who you’ve outsourced your  SEO  to, and your  SEO  must respect that.


I hope this has cleared up some misconceptions and that you’re better equipped to find the right  SEO  for your business. Once you’ve come up with a list of potential companies you should do a little background checking on each of them. This can be as simple as typing their company (or spokesperson) name into Google. If the first result is their company homepage, and the rest of the results are from Ripoff Report and Complaints Board be very, very wary.

Source by Nick Frantz