With SEO standards evolving on an almost weekly basis, it can be tough to keep up, let alone to discern the companies who are complying to the most current best practices from those who continue to attempt cutting corners with black hat techniques. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to research your SEO’s reputation, as well as the tools and practices they claim they will follow in order to improve your search rankings. A deep evaluation is essential, as even the most spammy practices can be spun in a positive light. Below are red flags to watch for when deciding on a new SEO company or reviewing the practices of your current partner:
Take some time to perform a quick search on the practices your SEO claims he will use to increase your rankings. If the most relevant search results (i.e. those on the first and second page of Google) are from several years ago or they do not include any articles from trusted SEO sources such as MOZ.com or Search Engine Watch, these techniques are likely outdated, if they were ever credible in the first place. If you do see articles listed from SEO experts, read through them to ensure that they are praising the practice and not admonishing those still using it.
If It’s Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is:
All too often, SEOs over promise and inevitably under deliver. If your SEO is claiming that you’ll be on the first page for 50 keywords in a matter of months, run the other way. Though results like that can be tempting, it’s unrealistic to expect them. A trustworthy SEO will give you a modest quote for a longer period of time to ensure that they can focus their energy on the keywords that truly matter and provide sustainable rankings.
Beware of any SEO whose main focus is building links. Google’s standards regarding link building have changed dramatically, cracking down on those who build links to quickly (a surefire sign that shady practices were used to gain them) and on those who have too many poor quality back links. True inbound marketers focus on creating compelling content that will attract links organically.
While traditional link building is frowned upon by Google, social media is still a valid source of inbound links. Not only does posting content from your site on social media create a credible inbound link, it allows your followers to then share those links with their friends, expanding your reach even further. Additionally, Google uses social media as a validation of your business. If they see that you’ve established a social media presence and frequently engage your followers, they will be more likely to come to the conclusion that your site will be useful to their users than if you were nowhere to be found on social media. Any SEO who does not at least mention the link between social media and SEM should be questioned.
Last, and most important, if your SEO does not insist on the frequent creation and posting of content on your site, often in favor of link building, run – don’t walk – the other way. Quality content that users value is Google’s top priority. If they feel as though your site does not offer a wealth of unique information that is useful to their users, they are not likely to reward you with higher search rankings.
The items above reveal clear indicators that your SEO is attempting to cut corners in order to gain short term increases in your search rankings or that they haven’t kept up with emerging SEO trends. If you have any questions about our SEO standards or current Google changes, don’t hesitate to reach out!