This might seem like a strange statement coming from someone who provides SEO services. So let me clarify – hiring the wrong SEO consultant can harm your business. While there are many great SEO practitioners out there, our industry also is plagued by too many slimy operators. They prey on small businesses; taking advantage of the fact that SEO seems like an unknowable realm.

“But I don’t have the desire or time to become an SEO expert, that’s why I’m hiring someone.”  I get it – I’m the same way with my tax accountant. I don’t want to learn how to prepare my company taxes; but it is up to me to know some basic accounting and to ask questions about how my taxes are being prepared. Because ultimately, it’s my business that will suffer if anything ‘shady’ is done.

I’ll be writing about SEO basics soon, but until then, here are some ‘red flags’ that can alert you to some of the sales tactics of less-than-ethical SEO firms:

  • you got a cold call or email from them – most good, legitimate SEOs don’t have to resort to this because their business comes thru referrals from satisfied clients
  • guaranteed rankings – as Google says, no one can guarantee rankings
  • promise quick results – good SEO takes time to work
  • don’t explain, in language you can understand, how search engines work and what they’ll be doing to optimize your website
  • use terms like ‘proprietary tactics’, ‘secret techniques’, etc
  • say they’re going to get thousands of links and/or submit you to thousands of directories
  • imply or outright state that they have some kind of special relationship with Google – they don’t, nobody does

A bad SEO firm can not only waste your money (which of course we hate), but also potentially get your website penalized by the search engines. I wish it weren’t the case, but Caveat Emptor!

Have you or anyone you know had a bad experience with an SEO firm?

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