In our current day and age, search engine optimization (SEO) has grown to become a multi-faceted service that online businesses require in order to be seen on the Web. Many SEO companies pose as a legit outfit, but many are either black hat in their web-content ethics, or will flat out rip you off with trumped-up promises they simply can’t deliver on.
Here are 5 things that will give away a fake SEO company:
- Making guarantees on things that cannot be guaranteed. If you hear things from an SEO company like, “We’ll put you on page one,” or “You’ll rank in the top ten,” you know they aren’t legit. The truth is, there are no guarantees with SEO, other than that you will come up in more searches and generate more impressions. No one can predict the future and say, “We can drive X amount of traffic to your site, which will result in X amount of conversions for you.” There are no guarantees, unfortunately – either in life or SEO. But, like life, the hard work put in will get you closer to a given goal and bring you some reasonable measure of results.
- Pushing link-building automation as a service. While some aspects of SEO can be automated, link building is not one of them (like content creation). Any SEO company that tells you it does automated link building as part of its services is misguided or overreaching to get your business. It can be done, yes, but it is a black hat technique that Google frowns upon, and will cause more harm than good. Google now punishes link building automation with heavy fines, in addition to a flagging and demotion in ranking. It is possible to grow quality links organically, and a good SEO firm will understand and provide that as a service instead of automation.
- They won’t provide you reports or data regarding their services. This is a big red flag, indicative of a shady SEO company that isn’t worth your time. They are likely just trying to see who will fall for their unprofessional and irregular attitude of not being totally up-front with you and sharing their performance numbers and data, if they are doing any business at all. A trustworthy SEO firm will, obviously, share such data with you upon being asked for it.
- Vague or incoherent explanations of their services. All communications should be clear, concise, and coherent when dealing with an SEO company – like any company. There shouldn’t be any confusion or unanswered questions when looking to contract for SEO services. If you’re unclear on anything, ask questions until things are clear. If they can’t or won’t answer your questions – cut bait and run.
- Communications come from a third-party email vendor. If your communications with a so-called incorporated or legit business are coming from a third-party email provider such as Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo, then you know they’re not for real. Too many SEO spammers use Gmail. A true SEO company, or one worth your time will NOT be using one of those methods of communication to get your business, but instead will use a proprietary email domain, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. An exception to this rule might be with an individual contractor like a content provider, but you still want to test their legitimacy by seeing their work, portfolio, or CV outside of a spammy-sounding email or ad (as on LinkedIn or PortfolioBox, for instance) before you contract with them.