January 8, 2016

10 Warning Signs Your SEO Agency is Dodgy

Uncovering the Dirty Secrets of the SEO Industry Mini Series

In the SEO industry, there are more pretenders than real deals. As a business owner, it is important that you do your due diligence and be aware of the 10 warning signs that could indicate your SEO company is shonky.

  1. They have no proof of work
    Ranking highly on Google is one of many important ingredients that form part of an effective SEO campaign. Gaining visibility on search engines and generating more traffic can take some time to ramp up, however, this is no excuse for your SEO company to not explain what they are doing and why.
  2. They don’t ask for login details or access to site analytics
    When pilots are flying planes, they use the plane’s radar system to determine where they are and if they are still on course. For ethical companies to improve your visibility on search engines, they too require knowledge of the starting point and whether the campaign is still on track by using Google Analytics and other related tools.
  3. They make no suggestionsIf your SEO company is not making suggestions on altering your website architecture or coding, it is quite possible that their SEO campaign is reliant on spamming the internet with links to your website. This kind of “SEO Campaign” will only lead to much heartache and many months, or even years of low or no search engine visibility.
  4. They are secretive about their SEO techniques
    SEO is a partnership and it requires all key stakeholders, from the CEO down, to be focussed on generating publicity for your website and creating content for your website. If your SEO company cannot explain what they are doing for your website SEO-wise, there is every chance that they are either up to no good or doing nothing at all.
  5. You receive a direct penalty from Google
    Google Webmaster Tools (also known as Google Search Console) is your line of communication with Google. In Google Webmaster Tools, Google will specifically alert you if a manual penalty has been applied to your site. If a manual penalty has been applied to your site, this means that either certain sections, or your entire site, has been penalized and will not show up on Google search results.
  6. Your rankings drop dramatically
    Google releases about 500 different algorithm updates per year and anytime there is a Google update, this can result in fluctuations in your search rankings. However if you notice a dramatic decline across the board on all the keyword searches you are monitoring, this is a warning sign that your SEO agency has engaged in suspicious activities.
  7. Your traffic drops dramatically
    A steep decline in your website traffic is another key indicator that your website has been hit by an algorithmic update. This is another key warning sign that your SEO agency has been engaging in underhanded SEO techniques. We recommend that all business owners demand access to their Google Analytics profile in order to have access to this data.
  1. Your website ranks for irrelevant keywords
    Google Webmasters provides a section that helps business owners determine how Google interprets or understands their website content. If you notice weird or irrelevant keywords appearing in this list, this is another warning sign that your SEO company is unethical and is engaging in deceptive conduct. In Google Webmasters, you can see how Google interprets your website by going to the Search Traffic / Search Queries section.
  2. Weird sites start linking to your websiteAnother marker of a shonky SEO company is if your website starts acquiring suspicious links within its backlink portfolio. In the offline world, it pays to monitor the company we keep and it’s vital from a business perspective that we pay close attention to what websites we are connected with online.
  3. They guarantee you results An SEO company cannot guarantee you the number one position on Google anymore so than your accountant can guarantee you that they will make you rich. Your accountant can make sure that you take advantage of the existing tax laws so they work in your favour. In a like manner, ethical SEO agencies will make sure you take advantage of the requirements laid out by search engines to ensure they work in your favour too. Anything more than that should raise alarm bells in your mind as to whether you are dealing with an ethical SEO agency.

If you suspect that your website is the victim of unethical SEO practices, we highly recommend that you speak with your current SEO agency. If the answers provided are not clear, we recommend moving to an SEO agency that can demonstrate what problems your website they too require a bird’s eye view of your campaign including the starting point, where it’s heading and any obstacles along the way. This is where Google Analytics and other related tools become imperative.