Search Engine Optimization is often cited by marketers as one of the most effective tactics for generating leads or sales from your website. But while most marketers understand the importance of SEO, many see the process as a highly technical, an almost mysterious discipline that’s best left in the hands of experts.
It’s no surprise, then, that many time-strapped small and medium-sized business marketers look to outsource their SEO to trained professionals. A simple Google search for SEO firms will turn up thousands of vendors, offering extraordinary quick results for attractively low monthly fees or even a simple one-time purchase.
Be careful, though: Many of these “professionals” and SEO experts are counting on clients’ SEO ignorance to get quick cash without delivering long-term, sustainable SEO improvements. Even worse, some of the practices used by SEO firms can actually hurt your business in the long run.
How can you tell if you’re being sold SEO false promises? Here is the first signal your SEO firm might not be worth the money you’re paying them. Take a look at these dubious practices and evaluate your current vendor’s approach. Or, keep this list in-hand as you search for a new vendor to take on your SEO project.
Some things to watch out for!
Outsourcing your business’s SEO is a leap of faith – you’re spending valuable marketing dollars on a project and need to show the return on that investment. That’s why many marketers are tempted by firms that guarantee top rankings or specific traffic increases, or claim they’ll improve your position in as little as 30 days.
But beware of firms that make these kinds of promises. The fact is, reputable SEO firms don’t offer guaranteed #1 rankings, fast results, or any other promises that sound too good to be true.
Here are some of the false promises that are typically used by devious SEO firms:
- Google has issued explicit warnings against making such promises in its search marketing guidelines, saying, “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.”
- Search rankings are notoriously unstable, and subject to a variety of factors such as the location of the person searching and whether they’ve logged in to Google and are using personalized results.
- Rankings alone are a bad metric for overall performance. It’s more important that the search results drive relevant visitors that take a desired action – such as signing up for an email newsletter or making a purchase – once they land on your page.
- Claims about rapid improvements in search engine rankings are similarly dubious. SEO is not a quick-fix marketing tactic to deliver results in a matter of hours or days. Instead, it typically takes a diligent, ongoing process that gradually improves your site’s rankings.
A good SEO project can take two to three months to begin showing a real impact, depending on a number of factors such as the age of your site, the number of quality inbound links you already have, and the competitiveness of keywords.
Anyone promising you big-time results in just a month is offering false promises or worse: They could be using unethical SEO tactics that might deliver a quick bump at the expense of long-term search engine performance.