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11 Warning Signs of a Bad SEO Agency

If you are in the market for SEO, you know that prices can range from worryingly cheap to eye wateringly expensive. If you find a good SEO agency, they will provide a consistent SEO improvement that helps your business for years to come. This includes traffic increases, higher rankings in Google and more money in your pocket. The trick is finding a good agency while weeding out the bad agencies. Most people want to get the most for their money but you must ask yourself: is cheap SEO good SEO? To answer this question we have compiled a list of the most common signs of bad SEO to help you find the right digital marketing agency.

A good general rule to remember when looking at agencies is; you get what you pay for… to a point. The best way to find out what SEO should cost is to contact a number of SEO agencies and get quotes. Once you have an average price it is easier to spot agencies that are suspiciously cheap or expensive.

The really cheap agencies are probably cutting corners. They may be using black hat techniques or they may just be a one-man band who can not necessarily devote the appropriate amount of time to your SEO.

The ruinously expensive agencies are likely to be working in large cities like London. Often these agencies cost more simply because they are London based. In essence, they are like designer handbags. They cost a lot more than all the other options but no one really knows why.

Once you have your bids, it is time to do some sleuthing. There are some clear warning signs that a company is engaging in bad SEO and we have put together a list to help you spot these marketing miscreants.

The Warning Signs of Bad SEO

If you are worried about falling prey to impropper SEO there are some signs you can look for. You should avoid companies that:

1. Promise a set number of links each month

If a company promises a certain number of links each month they are probably using automated link building or other black hat techniques. Think of good links like gold dust, they are very valuable and never easy to get. The best links are on sites that are relevant to your business and will drive traffic to your site. An example could be a link to your site in a news article or publication that focuses on your industry. Because these types of links take lots of work to obtain, there is no way for a digital marketing agency to guarantee they can build an exact number of links each month without using black hat techniques.

2. Guarantee to get you to a certain position in the Google rankings in a certain time

If a company is sure they can get you to a certain position in Google in a set time period, they are probably using some type of black hat or outdated technique because ranking increases take time and there is no set formula that will increase rankings. Another problem with promising a certain number of ranking keywords is quality. It may be easy to get some keywords to rank but are these keywords valuable. Some less reputable companies may promise to get a certain number of keywords ranking but then focus on low value keywords. Other companies that make this claim may simply be lying. Either way it is like promising to lead a horse to water and make it drink. The final decision behind rankings is not in the hands of agencies so they should not be making any specific promises.

By contrast, a good SEO company will give you a plan detailing how they will work to increase your rankings with benchmarks and a timeline to help you understand how work is progressing.

3. Promise to bring in a specific number of new website users

Good SEO will increase website visits but there is no way of giving accurate forecasting for traffic growth. Trying to drive more users to a website is like herding cats, it is difficult at the best of times and if you try too hard you just end up with a bunch of angry cats. There are inevitably troughs and spikes. If someone is promising you a specific amount of traffic, you can be sure that much of that traffic will be irrelevant or simply inauthentic. A good SEO agency will focus on increasing traffic but they should be looking more at an overall trend rather than a quick jump in users.

4. Tell you they can get your site ranking quicker than all the other agencies

Some agencies are better than others, but even the best agencies will take time to get a site ranking. If someone is promising miracles, they are probably cutting corners or just flat out lying. Quality agencies will have a plan for increasing rankings and provide regular reporting so you can see progress.

5. Promise a certain number of content placements

Placing content is great for SEO but it can be hit and miss. If someone is promising they can get a certain amount of content placed each month, they are not placing that content in the appropriate locations. Think of content placement like handing out flyers. A good agency may only hand out 20 flyers for your business, but they handed them to people who are interested in using your goods or services today. On the flip side, a bad agency may have dropped 2 million flyers from a plane. Unfortunately, most of those flyers are going to land in fields inhabited by very disinterested sheep. The best agencies will find the right opportunities to place content rather than wasting time trying to post content everywhere.

6. Send you cold emails

When someone emails you out of the blue, they have probably sent the same email to thousands of other people. This means they are not taking the time to find the right clients to contact and instead just playing a quick numbers game. Agencies that engage in this practice have just bought an email list. That means they have done no research into your business nor have they actually considered whether they can actually help you in any way. If you hire an agency that takes this type of generic approach to their clients, they will probably take the same attitude when it comes to doing your marketing. If you are looking for a digital marketing agency, try putting out a tender and looking at the responses you get or doing some research and finding the companies that look best to you.

7. Have poor spelling and grammar

If they cannot take the time to get an email right, do you really want them representing you and your business? Remember, your digital marketing agency will represent you online. Their content is often the first thing a potential customer sees when they are looking for your services. If the content your agency creates looks shoddy or is poorly written, customers will assume you are not very good at what you do.

8. Outsource

Digital marketing agencies that use outsourcing are agencies that farm their content creation, link building and other duties out to overseas firms to save money. The problem with outsourcing is it almost never generates quality results. A perfect example is content. If you are writing for an English speaking audience, you probably should not have your content written by someone who speaks English as a second or third language. The lower quality of outsourced content does not justify the cost savings. Link acquisition is another problem area when it comes to outsourcing. Companies that leave link building to outsourcers pay by the link. That incentivises outsourced link builders to build links fast rather than well. This almost guarantees that you will end up with loads of low quality links that could hurt your site.

Instead, find a company that provides all of its services in-house. They will offer better results and can be held accountable if something goes wrong.

9. Do not take the time to pitch

When a digital marketing agency pitches to a potential client it tells the client that this agency has taken the time to understand their business. If an agency does not take the time to pitch, they are either not interested enough to put in the work or they are bidding for so many other clients that they do not have time to put together a pitch. Either way this type of digital marketing agency is not the type of company you would want representing you.

10. Do not tailor proposals to your business

An untailored proposal is code for an SEO agency saying, “we did not care enough to take the time to personalise this for you.” You want your SEO team to care about you and your business. A good SEO agency will give you information and examples in their proposal that are relevant to you and your industry.

11. Do not fit the size of your business

If you are a huge company, you do not want a one-man band agency and vice versa. Find a company that fits your size. A great way to see if an agency fits your business is to look at their case studies. This will tell you what type of campaigns they have undertaken and what they are capable of. If you are looking for an agency to run a national campaign, find one that has a case study detailing how they have run previous national campaigns.

If you follow these basic rules and advice, you will be able to find an SEO agency that can help you achieve your goals without getting you in trouble or breaking the bank. The key is to make sure you get to know any agency you are considering and understand how they plan to help you. If you are interested in working with MRS Digital, you can contact us today to learn more.

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