SEO is a field of digital marketing that has long been on the receiving end of negative opinions. From Google algorithm changes to link penalties, sites crashing to companies failing to renew domains, SEO can be a complicated form of marketing with multiple inherent risks.
However, it’s a risk a lot of online businesses must take to be successful. With careful consideration and asking the right questions as recommended by Rand Fishkin, you can be sure you’re choosing the right SEO company for your business.
If you are at a point where you need to improve your visibility in Google because you know that’s where your customer base is searching, here are a few things to avoid when choosing a new SEO partner or related services.
Don’t Fall for Overnight Page One Rankings
I can’t tell you how many times I have been forwarded emails from “SEO” companies who guarantee overnight results on the first page of Google. Simply put, this is not possible. Even if your keyword target has little to no competition and you have great content, there is no guarantee that you can be on the first page in 24 hours. Rankings take a long time to produce and are a result of a combination of factors. What these companies are actually selling you is a paid ad in position #1 on Google. You ultimately have to fund the ad and it’s only a short-term result.
As soon as you stop paying for the clicks, there goes your positioning.
Links, Links, Links
Links are important to SEO, but they must be acquired carefully.
There are plenty of link building SEO companies out there that can do some long-term damage to your rankings, website and brand if you’re not careful. These companies often spin your content and post the plagiarized content on spam-filled websites in foreign countries and in some cases, in foreign languages. Google can quickly understand the links to be spam and as a result, your domain may be penalized. With a penalty comes link disavowing, reconsideration requests and trying your best to get back in Google’s index. It can be a long and tough process to get your brand back.
Don’t Use Fiverr for SEO
Another common question I am asked quite frequently is about $5 SEO gigs on Fiverr.com. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great (and inexpensive) services on Fiverr, but SEO should not be one of them.
Asking to pay $5 for an SEO campaign is incredibly risky, no matter how small the task. You don’t really know who is working on your SEO (a lot of providers are overseas), you’re providing credentials to your site to someone you likely don’t know, there’s no good way to verify the work they are providing and if something goes wrong, the best you can do is ask for a refund.
$199 Limited Time Offer!
Finally, I caution businesses to avoid “cheap” SEO plans. We all want to save money and invest marketing dollars in the best way possible. Similar to the aforementioned SEO services to look out for, anyone offering a plan for less than $500 / month is likely not going to do anything for your business. In most cases, a plan with a really inexpensive price tag equates to meta data changes, a quick review of the site once a month and some type of ranking report. I can tell you firsthand there is no strategy behind a service like this, there’s no integration with other marketing channels (PPC, email, social) and you should not be surprised when there are no real results.
The Reality Check
SEO is a long-term game plan you must be committed to. Any of the above offers are great if you’re simply building a churn and burn website. However, for most businesses, you cannot risk the reputation of your brand with a dodgy SEO campaign or a fly-by-night company. Proper SEO takes time and it can be a large investment depending on the size of your site, your keyword targets, website history, technical hurdles and competition in the market.
Above everything else, be sure to work with someone you feel like you can trust and a company that offers full transparency into your SEO.