Beware of dodgy SEO companies

Each day as I get out of bed I think to myself… today is going to be a great day! Why wouldn’t it be? After all, I work for a great company, I project manage a great group of clients and overall, I love my job. But as with all good things, there are also some challenges that pop up every once in a while. My pet hate is having dodgy SEO companies contacting my clients offering cheaper services – this tends to put a dampener on my day as these sorts of companies create a bad name for other legitimate businesses within our industry.  As one of these companies contacted one of my clients this week, I thought that I would blog about this topic.

So how can you tell if the SEO Company you are approached by is genuine?

Well, there are a number of factors that you should look at. These can vary considerably however in general a few commonalities apply. The main determining factor is to understand whether the company you are intending on working with uses blackhat vs. whitehat SEO techniques.

What is blackhat vs. whitehat SEO?

The term Blackhat applies to SEO techniques that are designed to manipulate the search engines, on the other hand, whitehat applies to techniques that comply with the search engines set of optimisation rules. Whilst blackhat techniques can at times achieve immediate results, more often than less, they tend to have long-term negative effects on websites. In many cases, websites that have been optimised using blackhat techniques can end up banned from Google’s index.  A perfect example of identifying a company that uses blackhat techniques is offering a guarantee to get you to the top spot of Google quickly.

I have to tell you, some of the big guys were affected by Google’s latest algorithm update. JC Penny and and Forbes were all recently affected as a result of inferior SEO techniques.

At the end of the day, it’s important to ensure you are looking out for the signs of a genuine SEO business.

How to Spot the Legit from the Dodgy?

There are a few tell tale signs of a dodgy SEO company.  The top three include:

1.  How many and what keywords will they optimise your site for

When we are working with a client we will generally select between 4-8 highly targeted keywords that actually attract search volume. A dodgy SEO company will tell you they will optimise your site for more than a dozen keywords or may also tell you they will get you to the top spot for an almost impossible keyword.

If you wanted to check up on the suggested keywords, you can look these up using the Google keyword tool. This is a free tool that shares the volumes for keywords. If you search for a keyword and there are more than 20,000 searches a month and you are paying less than $1,200 a month than it’s very unlikely your keywords will ever see the light of day.

2. It’s really cheap

Another dead give away is the price. We had a client that was receiving a very solid level of business through our work together, yet they decided to get a little greedy and left us to work for a company that charged a quarter of the price we charged. Needless to say, we started working with one of their competitors. The business that stopped working with us, totally disappeared from the search engines.

To get a website to the top of the search engines, over the long term you need to invest a good chunk of time and it involves a series of consistent action.  These consistent actions end up earning the top spot in Google for your keywords. In order to gain results, inexpensive SEO service providers revert back to dodgy blackhat techniques. These techniques generally involve outsourcing of inferior services such as poor quality link building, blogging, copying content from other sites and so on.

Like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

3. They offer a Guarantee to get you to the top

It normally works the other way around when it comes to offering guarantees in business, but in the SEO world no one can offer a guarantee when it comes to ranking. Let’s be straight on this. Even as a very experienced SEO I can not offer any guarantee that I will get you on the first page, or in the top 3.  Our track record has proven we can achieve this time and time again, but we still do not offer any guarantee. Just as weatherman can predict the weather, there are so many other factors at play that you simply can’t control (fortunately we have a much better track record than weathermen).

On average, it takes a company 6 months to catch on and to stop paying for these services. By this stage, you would have probably paid something along the line of $3000 plus. Now multiply this by 200 or 300 and you will see why you were contacted in the first place. Did the dodgy SEO shut it’s doors at this stage, I don’t think so… they probably built a new site, and started the process again using different company name.

In summary, when selecting your SEO Company, read up on SEO and make sure that your company of choice is genuine on all levels. Query them on their methods, check out their testimonials and reviews, find out about what techniques they use and most of all, trust your gut feeling. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.