These days, the fact that SEO is important is a no-brainer. Quality SEO is vital for attract qualified leads to your website, and relies on a mix of on-site optimization, third-party backlinks and more. When done right, your SEO can even work hand in hand. with PPC campaigns to maximize the revenue you earn from your keywords.
Unfortunately, not all SEO agencies are created equal. There are plenty of agencies that promise to bring their clients to the first page of Google, but fail to deliver. Or even worse, they rank their customers for keywords that have no search volume and provide no real results for the customer.
Unfortunately, this happens far more often than people realize. When brands can’t recognize the warning signs of bad SEO agencies, they’re wasting their money on work that might actually hurt their rankings.
So what can we do? I recently had the opportunity to interview Ryan Chaffin, founder of KAHA. As an SEO expert himself, Chaffin has offered several valuable insights into what indicates you are dealing with a low quality SEO agency.
1) Rely on a single tactic to boost rankings
“One of the biggest issues we see is that an SEO agency will rely almost exclusively on one tactic to improve their clients’ rankings,” Chaffin says. “For example, they will focus entirely on generating backlinks through content marketing or improving a website’s user interface to improve site speed and other metrics. There’s nothing wrong with these tactics on their own, but when it’s the ONLY thing you do, your rankings plummet as soon as Google makes an update that affects these metrics.
While Google’s major algorithm updates always get major coverage (like its May 2020 Main Update), the search giant is constantly tweaking and adjusting the way it ranks websites. In 2018 alone, Google self-reported over 3,000 “improvementsto its algorithm.
While some updates are minor and don’t have a major impact on site rankings, others can be much broader in scope. Updates such as a focus on mobile optimization have left many site owners scrambling to make last-minute changes.
A quality agency should use a diverse range of SEO tactics to improve your site’s rankings. This way, if an algorithm makes a strategy less effective, the overall campaign won’t fail.
2) Take a “one size fits all” approach to campaigns
As a consequence of generally focusing on a single SEO tactic, Chaffin observed that many SEO agencies categorize their clients into a “one size fits all” approach. After selecting somewhat relevant keywords, agencies dive into the same strategy they used for all other client campaigns.
“Every brand and every industry is different. Additionally, each company starts at a different point in terms of their website’s current SEO ‘health’,” says Chaffin. “A cookie-cutter approach is a recipe for mediocrity. A quality agency will take the time to thoroughly examine your website and the competitive landscape in your market. Knowing how you stack up against the competition gives benchmarks to aim for and helps determine which strategies will take advantage of their weaknesses.
The one-size-fits-all approach has proven ineffective in Medication, financial stability and more – so why would you expect it to work for your SEO needs?
3) Entrust the work to untrained trainees
When hiring an SEO agency, most brands assume that their website will be monitored by experts with years of industry experience. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.
“The craziest thing I’ve observed in SEO is that agencies basically hand all the work over to a bunch of interns,” Chaffin notes. “From website optimization to content marketing production, the work is done by interns who work for a stipend – or for free. The leaders who introduce you are solely focused on making another sale. It’s no surprise that the resulting work doesn’t live up to client expectations or deliver lasting SEO results.
No client should pay top dollar for work that is ultimately done by underpaid (and undertrained) interns. Potential clients should pay close attention to an agency’s working structure before getting started. Beyond Google reviews, sites like Glassdoor can help provide insight into the reality of the agency’s work culture.
4) Total full control over data and connections
In many ways, achieving high SEO rankings is a collaborative process. While brands hire SEO agencies to handle the work, they still want to be kept up to date on how things are going. This is especially true when a brand has its own internal initiatives or planned website updates that could impact SEO.
For this reason, it is essential that SEO agencies offer full transparency to their clients – although this is often not the case. “There are shady SEO agencies out there who want full control over data and logins. They say it’s to make things more convenient for you or give you any number of reasons, but really it’s to that they can sustain an unhealthy amount of power,” Chaffin warns.
“When you don’t have access to connections, you can’t see if their campaigns are generating real results. Some agencies might even try to hold that data hostage to keep you locked into a contract with them. ugly of the industry I wish doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, many agencies simply try to maximize profits instead of focusing on maximizing results for clients and building meaningful relationships. that is, you should be able to access the information you need 24/7.
While there are plenty of low-quality or shady SEO firms out there, Chaffin notes that there are plenty of genuine experts as well. “As long as you understand what to look for, you can recognize when an agency is just talking big. You should never be rushed into your decision to work with an SEO agency. Do your research, watch for these warning signs- runners and you’ll find a great fit that delivers real results.
Posted on February 23, 2021