The reason I wrote this article
If you reading this article, I probably don’t need to explain what SEO is. We all know that to improve the ranking of your website on the search engines, you need the assistance of a professional SEO agency if budget permitted.
However, I do want to point out that there are still a big amount of misconception about working with an SEO agency. Based on years of observation of the SEO field, I think the negative side of SEO industry’s reputation contributes largely to bad experiences in which some business owners got burnt by unethical SEO agencies. If only they knew how to pick the right one for them, they would have saved a lot of money, time and effort. They would also have had much better things to say about the huge return on SEO. That’s one of the biggest reasons that I wrote this article.
Now, when it comes to choosing the best SEO agency, there is a right and a wrong way of the hiring process. It is important to know the different pitfalls that you must avoid while picking up any agency to work on your website.
So do your homework well before even reaching out to any agency.
To pick the right agency, you need to understand Good VS. Bad SEO
Of course you don’t dive into the technical details of SEO process, but a basic understanding of the differences of good and bad SEO practices would be immensely helpful.
Examples Of Ethical SEO techniques (White Hat)
The term “White-Hat” specifies the technique of using various optimization strategies, techniques, and tactics which focus on the user/human audience, while still following search engine rules and policies.
Examples of optimization in this manner would include:
- Writing Educational Articles: Writing articles is a huge part of SEO practise. Some great tips when it comes to writing a good article is to do lots and lots of researches on the topics. Based on the keywords you will be using for your writing, make sure to find articles as your inspiration which are currently ranking high on google.
Generally speaking, Google loves longer form of contents. So those who propose creating long articles are kept up with the current trend.
- Keyword Search: the first step to writing any article, especially if you are trying to make a good one is always performing a keyword search. Ideally, your best bet is to start by using a Google’s Keyword Tool. When you search for new keywords , you get a list of suggestions based on common google searches. Popular searches is another good place to start.
- Meta Titles and Descriptions: While these descriptions do not possess as much value as they used to, this still plays an important role when it comes to SEO. It is crucial for each page to have a unique title and an informative meta description. Make sure there are no duplicates.
- Backlinks continue to be the strongest factor when it comes to google search rankings. Without the proper implementation of this, your company is placed at a significant disadvantage. Possible customer leads and sales will go to a competitor who has better optimized their backlinks. As google’s algorithm continues to improve it’s methods of detecting/ignoring unethical link practises, companies must become more creative when it comes to marketing high quality content with sophisticated methods of outreach communications and processes.
Examples Of Unethical SEO techniques (Black Hat)
It’s important to know some Black Hat SEO techniques wasn’t considered “bad” 5 or 6 years ago. For example, stuffing as many as keywords as you can then getting as many links pointing to your website as you can was the way to do it. However, as Google’s ability to punish Black Hat techniques increased steadily (especially after Penguin and Panda algorithm updates), these tactics do NOT work any more.
That’s why I prefer to just called them “Outdated SEO techniques” instead of “Unethical” sometimes. Here’re just some example of outdated techniques:
- Keyword stuffing: Merely 10 years ago when SEO was still new and hot on the market, cramming your website with as many keywords as possible in order to increase relevance was very popular. A few carefully placed keywords here and there that cover all the major points without making it look obvious or poorly written would have been more than enough.
- Cloaking: if the IP address doesn’t belong to a google crawler, it means it is a regular visitor and thus delivers a normal web page. This is an intricate way to trick the search engine into thinking the content on the web page is different from what the user really sees in order to rank higher in search engines.
- Wikipedia abuse: The purpose of Wikipedia abuse is to then obtain a backlink which leads the user directly to the company’s website. While this isn’t a bad idea and not necessarily an unethical approach when it comes to SEO, how effective this approach is largely depends on how well-written the article is. As long as it is written logically with a strong sense of informative content that lacks any sort of promotional content, this is not considered a form of shady link building.
- Shady link building ( Using link directories or link farm): Back in the days when search engines were nowhere near as sophisticated as today, there are online platforms where people exchange links and it worked . However, this method doesn’t rank your website any more.
- Article Directories: This started off as a great informative directory for good writers to show off their potential by providing helpful insight while creating useful links at the same time. Marketers then began to use software in order to rewrite these links and then upload them to thousands of different directories at a time, quickly bloating these lists with tons of useless low-quality content. Google eventually got rid of countless useless websites just cluttering the search engine with the work of these hungry marketers. These two practises are best to be avoided unless the link is high quality and specific to the niche you are trying to target.
It’s worthwhile to note that although it seems Google’s “ranking rules” constantly change, there’s one thing that never changes from day one. That’s Google’s goal: to give the most relevant and best search results to users! What changes is the Google’s ability to enforce website owners to comply with its guidelines.
With this simple in mind, you won’t get lost in all Google’s seemingly overwhelming updates. You can just focus on creating helpful contents and better user experiences!
How to choose the right SEO company for you
- Find out more about the companies previous work and client history: Some clients may choose to stay private for certain reasons, but most would not mind the extra publicity meaning a lack of previous work history from this company strongly implies some sort of red flag.
- Set Long-term and Short-term goals for your company: Are some of your goals to increase exposure? Boost leads? Gain more conversions? Or perhaps you just want to improve the intuitivity of your website so that clients have an easier time navigating and reading your content. That could be a short term goal, while long term would be to ensure your whole website is well laid out and that you are consistently getting increased traffic, and not just for a short period of time.
- Looking at the testimonials on the agency’s website is not enough. Ideally you want to find as many clients as you can to get an idea of how well this agency fares under a wide variety of different business and client requests. Try to find more information from at least three different businesses to get a better idea. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Just because the agency you are looking at does not have a top-notch website does not mean it is a bad SEO agency.
Mistakes To Avoid When Picking An Agency
Why Cheaper Is Never Better
Google wants the users of it’s search engine to discover valuable and relevant content – content that is more than likely to potentially convince a customer. This example is one of many that illustrates how SEO, marketing and sales operate in harmony when executed properly. The following points will explain why cheaper SEO is never better and how it will always cost you more money in the end.
- Using automated software which simply blasts your webpage link all over the internet. This either results in garbage links, or severe penalties which will either dramatically lower your ranking or worse yet, wipe you off the face of search engines all together.
- Hiring employees from overseas for very cheap who have no clue about anything when it comes to good SEO. They will simply publish garbage articles and then submit them online.
- Or, they will blast your site with something that quickly generates tons of backlinks.
- Link auditing is not cheap. There are several automated solutions for this on the market, but they are not always the most accurate. A proper link audit is best done manual by someone experienced. Therefore, it can be a very tedious process which is why many agencies charge tons of money for this to be done.
- A full clean-up of these toxic links is even more expensive still. In order to stand any chance at regaining your ranking, a dramatic effort is required to manually request the removal of these links. Google makes it perfectly clear that it expects the owners of these websites to make a genuine effort to clean up any sort of unnatural links rather than just simply disavow support for any sort of links which have proved to be toxic after the audit. SEO agencies charge even more money still for this, some upwards of $5000-$20,000 for a full cleanup, meaning this is obviously something you will want to avoid.
To summarize, You should always start with a definite idea of what your long/short term goals should be. Then, find a good agency that has experience under their belt and is qualified to perform effective SEO measures. Get an idea of whether the practises they like to use are a genuine White-Hat oriented approach. The most important thing is to never use a cheap, inexperienced, black-hat method because the last thing you want to do when building your business is to lower your rank or worse yet, become banned from search engines all together. Be sure to take a look at all the possible competition and options before choosing, whether it has to do with SEO or not. If you have any questions or concerns you’d like to express, feel free to leave a comment below and we will get back to you shortly.