There are some truly excellent Search Engine Optimisation agencies out there, delivering strong and sustainable growth in search engine traffic and sales for their clients. But unfortunately there are also some very bad SEO agencies – and they can be extremely dangerous. If you’re a marketing head and think you could spot a bad agency, you may be in for a nasty shock. Bad SEO agencies know how to make the most visible results of their inferior work – temporary rankings for a small number of mostly low-value keywords – appear not just legitimate but excellent to people without in-depth knowledge of SEO.
When choosing a search engine optimisation company, use this infographic to help you avoid bad agencies.
The cheap-and-dirty tactics of bad SEO agencies usually deliver only temporarily results – after which they can do lasting damage to your business. Bad agencies exploit clients’ lack of knowledge, making claims that sound impressive but are in fact nonsensical and dangerous. Specialist link-building agencies can be even worse. Building links in isolation from on-site optimisation and broader marketing strategy means failing to harness your business’ strengths in search campaigns. More importantly, it means missing many important weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Bad agencies typically blast one or two easy-to-rank keywords with a huge volume of web spam – gaining temporary high rankings for a client (or sometimes for themselves). Those rankings are then used in the sales pitch to win the next client – and to the uninitiated they look very impressive.
Most clients don’t realise that the majority of SEO value is usually in a much larger number of achievable, profitable keywords. It looks good to rank number 1 for two or three keywords – but it’s much more powerful and cost-effective to target more keywords – with less competition and higher conversion rates. Bad SEO agencies don’t usually bother to work out which keywords could drive the most traffic – let alone which could generate the most sales. They target easy rankings that look good but have no business case behind them.
We see an increasing number of bad agencies. Often we have to warn clients, which can take a lot of time and effort: a bad company can just show off one or two easy rankings they’ve achieved with large but cheap throw-away campaigns. By contrast, we have to explain in painstaking detail why the bad agency’s claims are misleading. Sometimes we are too late and can only try to pick up the pieces when things go badly wrong. In the worst cases, websites may be removed from Google’s index – buried under a mountain of web spam and link schemes – with no realistic prospect of ever recovering.
Before hiring an agency ask for several examples of links they’ve built for their clients. Better still, use the Open Site Explorer provided by SEOmoz to look at more of their clients’ links yourself. Hiring a company is an important strategic decision. Don’t take it lightly.
In particular, look for these disturbing signs of bad SEO campaigns:
Links from irrelevant websites – about completely different topics to the site they’re linking to
Links from pages written in poor English
Multiple duplicate linking pages – on different websites but with exactly the same copy
A significant number of links from comments on blogs
Links on pages with a large number of obviously promotional links to other websites
Links on pages that also link to sites about gambling, medicines, or porn
A significant number of links from .gov or .edu websites – or foreign domains
Link building being outsourced – especially if it’s sourced abroad
Ask your SEO Company what proportion of link building is done in-house – and what proportion is outsourced. Exactly what proportion of links will be built by people in your country – and what proportion will be built offshore by a third party? Look your sales rep in the eye very carefully when you ask these questions. Many SEO agencies now outsource the entire management of your account – very cheaply – to places like India. When that happens your account is really being serviced by people who have no relationship with you – people who don’t care about your business and have no idea how to manage a professional campaign for a reputable brand. They are amateurs who use dangerous, quick-and-dirty tactics. They produce bulk link spam schemes to build huge quantities of poor quality links. That’s all they do. That’s not SEO – it’s just spam.
If your website accumulates link spam then it’s out there on the web for all the world to see. You wouldn’t want your clients or investors to it – you’d feel very uncomfortable if you had to explain it to them or defend it. Customers and influential people in your industry may to come across embarrassing web spam posted in your name and ostensibly by your organisation – because spammers target vulnerable blogs forums that are relevant to your industry.
You certainly wouldn’t want Google’s Web Spam team to notice manipulative link schemes being mass-produced in your name – in contravention of Google’s terms of service. Your website could be penalised, or even banned by Google – which would be catastrophic for your business.
So don’t hire a bad SEO Company and accumulate bad links. They will damage your campaigns and your reputation in the long-term. Reputable agencies service clients themselves. They don’t secretly outsource to offshore link spammers who can’t write copy in proper English.
Are your agency’s link-building campaigns ethical and safe? Does your agency integrate search with other marketing channels – so they work together and complement each other? Most agencies don’t bother with integration. They just build links. Some agencies wouldn’t even know where to begin an integrated campaign. Talk to your Company today. Ask them about their link building campaigns and how they integrate with on-site factors and other digital and offline marketing channels.
Good SEO Agencies
A good SEO agency regards SEO holistically – and specifically, as it relates to your business. This is a complex matter and good agencies look at your strategy as a whole, undertaking extensive research before discussing the unique strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within your business and its environment.
There are 7 ways to spot a good SEO agency – one that you can trust to manage your campaigns professionally, ethically and in line with the long-term interests of your business.
A good SEO Company regards SEO holistically – and specifically, as it relates to your business. This is a complex matter and good agencies look at your strategy as a whole, undertaking extensive research before discussing the unique strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within your business and its environment.
There are 7 ways to spot a good SEO Company (See the infographic) A good agency is one that you can trust to manage your campaigns professionally, ethically and in line with the long-term interests of your business.
If you’re seeking a good SEO Company in London or the UK then you might consider Digivate. We manage integrated SEO campaigns in-house. We use legitimate methods like PR and outreach to build links that deliver sustainable value. We understand the technical on-site issues that help maximise the value of your campaigns. We integrate SEO with your other marketing activities – as any good agency should.
Proper SEO is broad and highly technical. It’s integrated. It’s hard work compared with offshore link spam – but it’s safe for your business. And in the long term it’s far more effective than spam.
In the light of these tips, you might carefully consider the things an SEO agency says (or fails to say) either in their marketing materials or in their discussions with you.
If you care about ethical and sustainable marketing then please share this post.