No matter what kind of business website you have, you are probably in a continuous race against your competitors, trying to improve your search engine rankings.
The field of websites optimization (SEO) has been through a lot of dramatic changes in the past couple of years. Nowadays, Google gives higher rankings to GOOD websites – that contain quality, natural content, that are responsive and load very quickly. The old tricks of keyword stuffing and spam link-building just don't work anymore. Still, since this is a very dynamic field of expertise, many SEO companies simply stay behind and use the same old and inefficient techniques while pretending to know what they're doing.
Bad SEO companies operate between mere laziness to real-life fraud. It's not easy to distinguish between a good and a mediocre SEO company. Here are a few tips that may help you realize if you chose poorly.
- The company's website: you don't need to understand web development or user interface design in order to ascertain if a website is badly made. If the website of your chosen SEO company loads very slowly, looks old and doesn't show well on smartphones, chances are that these guys know very little about the world of websites and internet, and you shouldn't be working with them.
- Anonymity is bad: you need to know who are you giving your money to. If the company's website doesn't have any information about its management or leading team, that's a bad sign. A proper business website should at least display the full names of the management team, a short bio and contact information. If the site doesn't have this information – it means this company has something to hide, and you don't want to do business with them.
- Fake client list: a lot of SEO companies display a list of clients and successful keyword promotions as a showcase of their abilities. Check out this information – are these websites really promoted by the SEO company? Are their achievements (first in keyword X, for example) real, or is it just a list which was solely created to impress gullible customers?
- Cheap articles: stir clear of anyone offering SEO articles for a buck and a half. Good content doesn't come cheap.
- "We don't involve ourselves with the site's content": guys, this is 2016. Content and SEO go hand in hand. There's no avoiding that. If an SEO company refuses to deal, renew and optimize your site's content – they have no idea what they're doing.
- "We don't look at Google Analytics": believe it or not, I've heard this from a real-life SEO company. They claim they have "other tools" (no other tracking code was installed in the client's website) and that they mainly rely on checking the site's position in different keywords they chose to promote. Analytics and tracking codes are a crucial tool in SEO – and you can't just ignore them.
- Weird reports: make sure you are not just fed numbers and graphs by your SEO company. Verify the data, and check for any unusual numbers. For example, if there's an abnormal spike in your site's traffic, make sure it wasn't generated by spam or bots. If the monthly report says only 5 users entered the site via Google – be very suspicious and find out how it's possible. It goes without saying, really – if you pay a company and it feeds you fake or inaccurate reports, you should stop working with it immediately.
- Building links isn't everything: true, generating links to your website is an important step in its optimization. Still, putting too much emphasis on link-building, while neglecting content and site performance, isn't a good idea. Moreover, links to your site need to be natural and of quality. That is, they shouldn't come from link-farms, spammy sites or irrelevant footers.
- No progress: SEO is a long, continuous process that never ends, really. It usually takes some time to start seeing results. Still, if you see that your website is in a standstill for months, there's no increase in traffic, rankings and leads, and you see no advancement at all – you need to fire your SEO company.
- Ignoring technical SEO: content is king, sure. But before we start editing and writing, sharing in social media and promoting our wonderful articles, we need to optimize the site itself – improve load times, make sure the site isn't hacked and doesn't contain malicious code, check for broken links and elements, test responsiveness and fix 404 errors. These are all technical issues that effect your website's rankings. If your SEO company can't handle it, or at least find a pro that can – get rid of them and find a better one.