If you run a website of any kind, there’s a good chance you’ve at least heard about SEO. Search Engine Optimization involves a variety of strategies that can help your website rank higher in search engine results for searches that apply to your business.
Whether you want to boost sales, promote your brand, spread your message, or connect with likeminded people, getting more traffic to your site requires more than just the inclusion of a few generalized keywords. In fact, these days many people are turning to SEO specialists to ensure they are getting the most out of their website and that they are visible in the online sphere.
Because webpage optimization is such a huge part of digital marketing, more and more businesses are popping up claiming to be the foremost SEO experts on the web. In order to separate the experts from the amateurs, here are five red flags to look out for when choosing an SEO company to work with.
? They don’t set target keywords at the beginning of the campaign.
Any SEO company worth their salt will start your working relationship with a consultation. This consultation will allow you to discuss your goals for your site, your target audience, and the types of searches you want to rank for. During this meeting, your SEO consultant will gather information so they can create a set of target keywords. These keywords will be sets of words or phrases that relate to your target audience and what they are searching for. They will be well-researched keywords that will help you rank in the searches you discussed and get you the traffic you need. Any SEO company that doesn’t set these target keywords at the very beginning is likely not going to be able to show you their progress with any sort of transparency. This is a big red flag, since you want to know from the very beginning that the investment you are making is paying off.
? They only offer on page SEO.
While target keywords and other on page strategies are an integral part of the SEO process, they are only one part. Arguably just as important is off page SEO, notably link building. This is the process of linking your site to other high authority sites in similar or related niches. This strategy works by directing traffic from this trustworthy, high-ranking site to your own through valuable content that relates to your industry. By promoting what you do on other sites and getting these clickthroughs, search engines will start to see your site as on par with these other authoritative sites and will boost your ranking accordingly.
The things is, link building is an arduous process, and probably one of the best reasons to hire a reputable SEO company. This is because organic link building requires making connections with other websites one at a time, discussing what type of content you can contribute and how it will benefit both parties. Sometimes these links don’t get built, even after negotiations are complete. Most entrepreneurs and small businesses don’t have time for these things. And anyone who is just playing at being an SEO consultant to make a few extra bucks certainly won’t want to bother with it either. So always check that the SEO company you are considering has a plan for off page SEO from the very beginning. Which ties into the next point…
? They don’t give you a list of links built.
Even if they include link building in their overall strategy for your website, if they aren’t showing you what links they are building, it doesn’t really matter. Again, transparency is the name of the game and any company who is serious about providing top of the line SEO services will be happy to show you exactly where your money is going. Not only should they give you an updated list of links built, but they should also show you the type of content they are creating for these links and get your input along the way. While a high-profile SEO consultant will be an expert in their field, it’s still important that you have a say in what content is being created for your business. A company that keeps you in the loop doesn’t have anything to hide, nor do they have any issue with getting your feedback. This is the SEO company to choose. Meanwhile, any company that withholds this sort of information or claims to know what’s best should be avoided at all costs.
? They don’t send regular progress reports.
An SEO campaign is an ongoing process that can take weeks, months or even years depending on your goals. While you are probably looking to hire an SEO expert so that you can focus on other things, you will also want to know how things are going from time to time- without having to chase them up. An SEO company that doesn’t proactively send progress reports is a red flag for several reasons. It may signal that they aren’t putting the amount of effort into your campaign that they claim to be. It may also be that the strategies they are trying aren’t working very well. Another reason might be that they’ve simply forgotten about you and are focusing on another client. Whatever the reason, this type of behavior shows that you are not a priority.
Instead, look for an SEO company that is in regular contact with updates as to how your compaign is going. The best will put everything out on the table, from celebrating SEO wins to reworking efforts that maybe didn’t pay off as much. They will also give you the opportunity to review their progress and decide if your campaign needs to go in another direction. If that’s the case, you’ll be able to trust that they are available to reassess your site’s SEO strategies and work with you to achieve your goals.
? They don’t offer access to your rankings.
In addition to these personalized progress reports, a good SEO company will have a centralized SEO dashboard that you can access whenever you want to see your site’s rankings. This type of platform allows you to see where you started, where you’ve been and where you’re heading thanks to the company’s efforts. Because these types of platforms are based on real-time data, there’s nowhere for the SEO firm to hide. It’s pretty obvious that any company who doesn’t offer this sort of platform is probably not that confident with their ability to grow your website’s traffic and ranking. So even if they sound confident in your first conversation, be sure to ask about what sort of access you will have to real-time analytics. If they truly have nothing to hide, they will happily give you access straight away.
Moreover, companies who offer access to a centralized dashboard should also be available to explain these rankings to you. The idea is that you are on a journey with them. Not every single keyword or link is going to rocket your website to the number one spot, but you should be able to see steady, organic growth throughout your time with them. If not, they should be available to discuss the current game plan so you can decide if this is a campaign you want to continue with.