There is more potential and opportunity in SEO now than ever before. SEO-related spending by businesses is forecasted to be up to $80 billion by 2020! But there are also some disadvantages to being in an unregulated industry.
Anyone can claim to be an SEO expert, and there is no trusted or centralized authority that could challenge them. So let’s look at some of the things you can look at to decide if an SEO agency is worth doing business with or not.
These are the four signs of a fraudulent SEO company:
1. Menu Pricing
How would you feel if a real estate offered to sell you a 2-bedroom apartment for the same price in ANY neighborhood in the city? Would you trust them? Does it make sense that an apartment in a run-down part of town costs the same as the one with the lowest crime and the top school?
It is no different with online traffic. The value of the traffic depends on the keywords you are going after and must be quoted as such. To offer menu pricing such as $200 for five keywords, $300 for ten keywords, suggests that ranking for “tacos in Timbuktu” is equally profitable and competitive as “insurance company New York.”
2. Specialists in EVERYTHING!
How often do you see digital marketing agencies that claim to be experts in SEO, social media marketing, PPC, web design and neurosurgery?
These are all skills that cannot be taught at any school or university, except neurosurgery but that’s going to take 15 years. Internet marketing, on the other hand, is a living breathing entity of its own, a language that is always changing. It takes an inordinate amount of time and energy to keep up with Google’s ever-changing algorithms. So when someone promises that they can rank you for a competitive keyword AND grow your Instagram to 1000 followers AND take care of all your Adwords while simultaneously doing brain surgery with their other hand, be sure to exercise caution!
There are undoubtedly companies that actually have specialists from different fields working for them, but their reputation and rates are going to reflect that. Most companies that make these promises, however, barely have any staff. If you’re on a budget, you would be better off choosing ONE of these marketing methods and getting an expert rather than a novice “one-stop agency” that is going to try and take care of everything.
3. Too Much Talking, Not Enough Ranking
If there is ONE QUESTION you have to ask yourself before making a decision on whether to move ahead or not with an SEO agency, it is this:
Where do they rank?
Are they at least ranking for some SEO keywords in the city they are based in or in any major city? Does it make sense for someone to promise to rank you for the services you provide when they don’t rank for the services THEY provide?
And if they deflect your questions with a response like “Oh we’ve ranked dozens of our clients” without being able to produce verifiable rankings, turn around… run!
4. The Guru’s & their SEO Courses
Ask yourself: How much is online traffic valuable to businesses? If you are actually capable of moving websites in the search engines for profitable, competitive keywords, do you think a dentist or a lawyer or a construction company sitting on the 2nd or 3rd page of Google is going to hesitate to pay you thousands of dollars a month so they can make tens or hundreds of thousands from that traffic? Of course, they would!
But you’ve ACTUALLY got to be able to do that. And what do you do when you know all the SEO tech terms, but can’t produce results and verifiable rankings? You’ve still got to pay your mortgage somehow. So you sell courses.
$20 for an ebook, $30 for an online video course. That is how people who don’t really know SEO, make money from SEO. The best businessmen in the world aren’t teaching MBA courses; they’re out running businesses. The best surgeons in the world aren’t teaching at medical school; they’re out doing surgery. And the best SEO’s in the world aren’t selling courses; they’re out moving websites to the top!
Abrar is an SEO consultant and owner of A.P. Web Solutions, a digital marketing agency in Melbourne (Australia), specializing in Search Engine Optimization. With clients from all over Australia and some in Asia, A.P. Web Solutions generates free, organic, revenue-generating traffic through search engines like Google.