In order to climb up the Google search results, business owners usually resort to SEO experts like us. The bigger and better known an agency is, the more competent it must be! Right?
While this view may seem reasonable, it is typically a mistake. Especially the big players in the industry lack individuality, quality, and transparency.
Large SEO agencies seem legit because of their name and their existing clients. But are they actually good? The fact is that most SEO agencies work unprofessionally, especially when it comes to smaller clients.
For a big brand with a strong website, little can go wrong. You’d have to work hard to mess up their website, which makes them good clients for us SEOs because usually only monitoring and advice are needed. Small to medium-sized businesses (like local businesses) are very different and more difficult because:
- They have a smaller SEO budget.
- They usually have a website with little authority and stability.
- SEO mistakes, unlike with a strong brand, are often punished by Google.
Of course, this does not apply to every large SEO agency, because there are serious experts out there as well. Nevertheless, many well-known SEO companies only seem to be out to earn a quick buck through easily implementable SEO measures (link spamming via web catalogs, blog comments, social bookmarking and article directories). Real optimization looks very different.
For this reason, you should take a closer look at the proposal before working with an SEO agency and be particularly sensitive to certain promises.
It should not look like this
Prior to your arrangement with the SEO agency, you should have a clear offer as to which measures are to be implemented to achieve the objectives. Note that real SEO strategies are proprietary, so don’t be surprised that such information is not revealed. However, if the plan remains vague or the agency throws meaningless phrases around you, you should be careful and rather keep your distance – the following things, for example, should not be included in an offer:
The agency promises top 1 rankings
Rankings in Google are difficult to predict. They do not only depend on your own SEO strategies but also on what your competitors are doing to their own websites. Your website may benefit or suffer from what other businesses are doing. Promises of this kind are nonsense. Serious agencies like our own speak of more relevant visitors or confidence.
Lack of control, no reporting, no transparency
As a client, you are king, because you pay for the SEO services. If the proposal does not contain any reports of results, this is in no way a serious SEO agency. How can you know what you are paying for if the service provider cannot tell you what results you have gotten so far?
Our approach is simple: we give you access to a tool that tracks your rankings in real time and updates once a day. This way, you can log in and check your rankings every day, if you choose to. Search traffic and phone calls via Google Maps are easy to track via Google’s own statistics, and we make sure that you are aware of these numbers and understand their value.
In many agencies, it is common practice to sell business owners a package deal. It’s fast, but it doesn’t help you at all. Worse still, this offer often includes “spamming” in order to process you as quickly as possible. Individuality looks different.
Our pricing is calculated depending on your competition, goals, traffic value, and available traffic. We do not “process” clients but work with them for years and wish to multiply their business.
Old-school SEO with tunnel vision
The Google algorithm is constantly being revised. Today, completely different Google ranking factors and channels play a role than two years ago. Many large SEO agencies remain stuck in the past due to fixed structures and strategies are only implemented sluggishly.
If we look around our industry, many of the big guys are all still stuck in 2009, but since the Google Penguin update in April 2012, their tactics don’t work anymore and cause long-term damage to a website. Worse, most SEOs see their craft only as money-making technique. That’s right, they once upon a time wanted to learn how to make money on the Internet and ended up learning about SEO. There are entire courses out there that just teach how to sell SEO and then outsource it somewhere. Yikes!
None of the above, and that includes 99.99% of the market, have ever developed or tested an SEO strategy themselves. They only read online what to do, or they watch YouTube videos about it. But the strategies that really work are secret. The few of us that know what’s working today would never give away these methods, as they have tremendous value.
What makes us different is that our CEO was one of the people that invented SEO two decades ago, and we still develop the strategies that work today.
Individual SEO with personality
In addition to the proposal itself, there are other points of criticism that apply especially to large SEO agencies: Individuality, quality, and personality of the service – especially with regard to the contact person within the agency:
Ask for a personal and fixed contact person
At least during normal office hours, your contact person should be available via various channels – this is simply part of good service. If the company is based in Europe, keep in mind their time zone is quite different. Email is always the best medium to use. We usually just use email ourselves.
Test the competence of your contact person
If your contact person has to constantly ask someone else to answer your questions, you can be sure that you are not dealing with a competent individual – this is not only bad for your SEO, but also extremely annoying.
Pay attention to mass processing
Is the agency you are looking at interested in selling their services to anyone who’s willing to pay? If so, then they don’t care about you.
By contrast, we don’t work with just anyone – we work with the right clients that are a good fit and where we know results can be achieved. Not all projects make sense.
For example, we once got an inquiry by a company that sells printer parts, and they wanted to rank all over the nation for “printer parts” and more specialized search phrases. The search volume on those keywords was fairly small, running ads would have been fairly cheap and their budget for SEO wasn’t high despite wanting to rank across the country. It made no sense to move forward and we explained to them it would be best to just run Google ads.
We are not afraid to lose out on a client, but most agencies out there will work with anyone just to make more money.
Large SEO agencies often lack individuality and flexibility to react to ranking changes. Not only is that annoying, but it’s also money thrown out. Before using the SEO service provider, it is therefore necessary to thoroughly examine the agency – so it often turns out that small providers offer a better service.