Unfortunately SEO companies can have a bad reputation. Since most business owners don’t understand SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or digital marketing to its full extent, the industry has become rife with ‘fly-by-night SEO agencies’.
If you think your SEO agency isn’t acting in your best interests, then this one’s for you. These are the most common red flags and warning signs that your SEO agency is trying to screw you over.
1. Your SEO Agency Doesn’t Email You Back
This is the one we hear the most from our clients who have worked with dodgy SEO businesses in the past. Once they have “handed the money over” or worse, signed a long contract, they stop hearing back from their SEO agency.
Naturally, when it comes to a business handling your digital marketing, you expect to hear back from them within a timely manner. With these bad SEO companies, you never seem to be a priority.
Your emails seem to go unanswered for weeks and phone calls are hardly ever returned. When you eventually get in touch with the company, you are often left confused by the conversation you have had with them and still don’t understand what is occurring with your SEO campaign.
This is a huge red flag and warning sign. If your SEO company doesn’t get back to you, they are likely trying to screw you over.
2. You Are Locked Into A Lengthy SEO Contract
Not all SEO contracts are the same. Some agencies, like Australian Web Experts, do require a minimum commitment from a client.
With that said, dodgy SEO companies will often only focus on the sales process with no intention of keeping the client (you) happy or retaining your business at all.
In fact, they completely expect you to cancel your services at the end of your SEO contract term. This is why they’ll always push to sign you up to a lengthy, sometimes 24 month, SEO contract from the outset.
They focus entirely on the sales process as they have no faith in – or intention of delivering – their SEO services. This is one of the key signs your SEO company is trying to take advantage of you.
3. They Say They Are Delivering Traffic, But You Aren’t Receiving New Leads
Let’s presume you have been getting SEO completed on your businesses website for a 12 month period. Your SEO agency doesn’t appear to be too bad, and you even get a monthly SEO report each month!
But here’s the thing, you haven’t really noticed an increase in phone calls/ emails or enquiries. In fact, your BAS is lower than previous quarters.
How can this be? Your SEO company is highlighting thousands of views, impressions and traffic that your website is getting each month. Every report shows that your website is doing well on Google, and you are told things are moving in the right direction.
If you are in this position, something is wrong. This is a tactic used by bad SEO companies that have no intention of completing quality SEO on your website.
They hide behind these ‘vanity metrics’ that really don’t mean anything. If your business hasn’t had an uptick in phone calls and enquiries, then something is wrong.
Unfortunately you aren’t able to pay wages or bills with impressions and website traffic, so if you are in the position – you are likely being taken advantage of by your SEO.
The only real metric in digital marketing is increased revenue, sales and profit.
4. You Aren’t Sure What Work They Do Each Month
Something must be happening on your website if they’re charging you, right? Not when it comes to these bad SEO companies.
You may have tried in the past to question what work is being completed on your website each month, but they can’t tell you their SEO agencies “secrets to success”. This is one of the major warning signs.
When it comes to working with a SEO company, business owners should expect to be involved with their digital marketing strategy. Importantly, you should know what work is being completed on your website each month.
These bad SEO companies will typically assure you that while they can’t tell you their “secrets to success”, they are actively working in the background. If this happens to coincide with you receiving no real results from your SEO campaign, something is clearly wrong.
5. You Have Been Promised Results In 30 Days
This tactic is usually used by SEO agencies who email you those spam emails on a daily basis. “First page results within 30 days for $100!”.
An SEO company that uses this tactic will either produce results for extremely low traffic keywords that don’t push the needle forward for your business, or they won’t deliver results at all.
See above our reference to that lengthy SEO contract. You’re likely already locked in, so this “promise” doesn’t really mean anything now.
The reality is, no SEO agency can promise first page results for hundreds of different keywords within 30 days. Some SEO guarantees are worth considering and can be offered by legitimate SEO agencies. Generally speaking, quality SEO takes time, energy and effort.
Any SEO agency that knows what they’re doing and has any intention of building a long term relationship with their clients understands this. If the SEO agency you are working with wants to build a long term relationship with you, they should under promise and over deliver.
By over-promising, they are setting the entire SEO relationship off on a bad foot – however, these “fly-by-night” SEO agencies typically don’t consider a long term relationship.
Any quality SEO agency will never promise these unachievable results, so if your current SEO agency offers something like this – you are probably being screwed over.
6. Your SEO Agency Doesn’t Produce New Content For Your Website
Much like they can’t show you their “secrets to success”, they also can’t show you any SEO work they’ve actually completed on your website.
Any quality digital marketing or SEO strategy will always include the production of new content. In the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) space, content is king and on-page SEO is critical.
A healthy website, that wants to be favoured in the search results by Google, will be producing new content (i.e. blogs and website pages), on a monthly basis.
Quality content marketing is one of the key pillars of SEO success and search engines only favour websites with fresh content. A content marketing strategy is integral to every digital marketing campaign and is usually where a lot of your budget spend is allocated.
If you are in a position where your SEO agency won’t show you what they’re doing and, conversely, you don’t notice any new content added to your website – you should take this as a warning sign.
The lack of a content marketing strategy is a critical sign your SEO agency isn’t completing any work for you.
7. They Haven’t Asked For Access To Anything
You’ve signed your long contract (spoiler: warning sign) and you have been told your SEO agency is getting started on work. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Maybe they have even told you they will create their own profiles for you. The reality is, any quality SEO agency will have a proper onboarding process that collects this information from each SEO client.
Access to your websites backend, your Google properties and other backend information is critical and any reputable SEO firm will require this information to conduct a digital marketing strategy.
If you haven’t handed over any information to your SEO company, it is likely they aren’t completing any SEO work on your website at all.
8. Your SEO Company Doesn’t Seem To Care About Your Business Goals
Good SEO that delivers real results and website traffic over the long term will always be focused on your business goals.
Most of these “fly-by-night” SEO companies don’t care about your business goals or rankings at all, and this is something you can usually scope out in the initial quotation process.
If you are in the unfortunate position of working with a dodgy SEO firm, you will probably notice they don’t seem to care about your business goals at all.
The reality is, you wouldn’t be engaging a SEO agency if you didn’t have some clear business goals. These goals could come in a variety of forms, it may be to increase website traffic, brand and business awareness or revenue.
Your overall digital marketing and SEO strategy should be tailored to your specific business goals. It is likely you are in a position where the conversation of your business goals haven’t been discussed and this is a very clear sign they are trying to screw you over.
Consider this: if your SEO agency doesn’t understand your business goals, how can they effectively work with you to achieve your goals? Any clients business goals are the centre of our SEO packages and digital marketing campaigns.
9. The SEO Firm Is Based Somewhere Overseas
This is probably one of the bigger warning signs and where we see things go wrong for Australian business owners.
In the SEO industry, there are a large number of SEO companies based overseas (typically places like India, Pakistan, The Philippines and Sri Lanka).
Unfortunately these business owners are not bound by Australian consumer law and will commonly try to pull the wool over your eyes with bad SEO tactics.
An overseas SEO firm should be avoided at all costs for any business who is seriously looking to increase their website traffic and position within Google.
They typically complete very little real SEO work and anything they do will typically be black-hat SEO or dodgy SEO tactics. Sometimes these businesses will say they are in fact based in Australia (or even New York), but if your gut tells you otherwise – listen to it.
We are contacted by businesses every single day who have engaged these overseas SEO providers and the clean up process of their bad work can be extremely costly.
Find Out If Your SEO Company Is Trying To Screw You
These are some of the warning signs that your SEO agency is trying to screw you over, however there can be even more telltale signs that things aren’t right with your SEO campaign.
The reality is, if your SEO agency isn’t delivering you the website traffic and business goals that you require for business growth – something isn’t right.
The expert SEO team at Australian Web Experts are always happy to provide a free SEO audit and review of your current SEO campaign to see if something is awry with your SEO provider. With our extensive experience, we can pin-point the signs almost immediately.
So, if you think you’ve found yourself working with one of these dodgy SEO companies, get in touch with our team and we’ll be more than happy to help point you in the right direction.