With so many agencies out there, it's easy to be fooled by fake promises and bad SEO techniques wrapped in a pretty bow of dishonesty. There are also less-than-honest folks out there who are looking to take your money by falsifying their SEO and marketing abilities. Here are some tips to help you identify and avoid them while ensuring you are working with SEO professionals who practice solid techniques and truly believe in honest practices.
- They Ask To Own Your Data/Logins: One of the hallmark signs of an agency/consultant trying to trap you is by starting off the engagement by asking you for full control over your logins, data, and reporting. Many companies fall for this under the guise of, "I just want them to handle it, that's what I'm paying for, for them to handle everything", but don't realize how truly dangerous this can be if things don't work out between the two companies. What many shady agencies/consultants will do in this situation is to hold your data and logins hostage to keep the contract going. This can balloon into legal disputes that stretch on for months or years, and in the worst-case scenario, can end with you needing to create new logins and adding new tracking code to your sites.
- They Guarantee #1 Rankings/Top Results: It still boggles my mind that there are SEO professionals out there winning business with the pitch, "We guarantee #1 rankings." Not only are they out there but people are hiring them. Any SEO worth their anxiety can get something to rank on Page 1, regardless of whether that is driving quality traffic, revenue, or leads to your site. This is a common ruse used by unscrupulous agencies and consultants to get you in the door.
- They Tell Their Story, Not Yours: Speaking of reporting on metrics, another telltale sign of a less than stellar agency/consultant is if their reporting is always telling their story and not yours. What I mean by that is that they are always highlighting what went right, what they did awesome at, and why you should pay them more at the upcoming renewal. They never talk about what went wrong, what didn't work, or the lessons learned to make the current campaign so successful, which sometimes is more important than the wins themselves. Only knowing half of the story is detrimental to your business and your own education.
- The Partnership Is Positioned As Transactional: Always be mindful of how an agency/consultant pitches you, as it is telling about how the relationship will operate. People who want to help you will tell you how they will help you. People who don't will tell you how much their service costs and how monthly meetings will be structured.
- Their Case Studies Are Outdated: Speaking of brag slides, you should always ask what year the projects/results are from. One of the greatest injustices of organic search is how long people use case studies. SEO changes every single day and while it's awesome you really knocked it out of the park for Pets.com back in 2000, that story doesn't really help me gauge your talent today.