Avoid Scams: How To Spot A Shady SEO Offer

By Ryan Boog

Many marketing managers and business owners have been approached by downright shady SEO providers who promise results but deliver nothing. Zip. Nadda. Every industry has people and companies that make them look bad. There are shady realtors, chiropractors, doctors, investors, mechanics, and the list goes on. With SEO and digital marketing companies, it’s no different. Just look at your spam inbox and I'm sure you'll see what I mean.

Avoid Scams: How To Spot A Shady SEO Offer

Unfortunately, you may have already connected with one of these scam artists. Many of these "agencies" promise you top rankings for one low monthly price. So, if you're paying $200 a month to a company that says it’ll get you to the top of the search results, it’s almost certainly a scam. Why? Because doing digital marketing and SEO properly takes a lot of time and effort. On top of that, any decent agency will include thorough reporting. Proper monthly reporting on a campaign should take a minimum of one to two hours, and in some cases, longer. So, depending on the hourly rate, just reporting alone could put you close to that $200 mark.

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Is SEO A Scam?

The answer is simple: No! An emphatic no! How can I be so sure of this? There is proof. I have seen companies grow their businesses after implementing a digital marketing strategy. After a few months of letting digital marketing work its magic, they had to either hire new employees or get into a new building because digital marketing allowed them to grow. (Check out Moz’s “10 SEO Myths that Friggin’ Tick Me Off” blog to get more insight on what kind of power SEO and digital marketing can provide.)

In addition, Google actually wants individuals and businesses to optimize their websites for search. Google encourages it! I think this gets swept under the rug, or overshadowed by how much Google hates websites that use the spammy SEO techniques that were the norm at one time.

SEO is not a scam. SEO helps Google create better search results and can drive more traffic and potential business to your site.

Think about Google’s goal. It wants to provide the most relevant and accurate results for any query. That's it. It just wants to give users what they’re searching for. That's what drives Google. SEO tells Google bots what your page or website is all about. Google can then index that information and provide it to users during a search.

It's Not Easy

As long as you’re optimizing your site to reflect the actual service or product you offer, Google wants to lead people there. If you run a tree planting company in Madison, WI you want search results for that topic to include your website, right? Of course, you do. That's leveraging Google to reach your target audience.

But, let me tell you my friends, this isn't a one and done technique. There isn't a switch I can flip here that makes all of our clients’ websites rank high on Google. If that was the case Gary Vaynerchuk and I would both be owning an NFL team together and I would be donating tons of money because I would have the multi-billion-dollar solution.

So, How Can I Spot a Scam?

The first red flag I usually mention to potential clients is that anyone who’s offering any sort of seems-too-good-to-be-true guarantee is probably a little shady. At Hoist, we only guarantee that we will work hard on your campaign, that we’ll spend time bettering ourselves as digital marketers, and that we’ll focus on your success. Basically, if you see any company offering you guaranteed first page rankings, send that email to the spam folder or hang up that phone. You have better things to do with your time.

Another giveaway is extremely low prices. This typically means labor has been outsourced at a cheaper rate to somebody who is not experienced at what they do. Any truly knowledgeable and experienced SEO or digital marketing professional should carry a decent fee for what they provide since any digital marketing campaign requires training, research, strategy and lots of effort to pay off over the long term. In addition, somebody offering a really low rate could be using certain tactics with the hope of shooting you up to the first page of rankings right away. But, this will likely lead to penalties down the road.

Lastly, be wary of SEO or digital marketing companies that are focusing on the wrong goals. If their main focus is on tracking keywords, they’re not looking at it the right way. Digital marketing should not revolve just around individual keywords. It should revolve around how the site is doing as a whole. How is it reaching its audience? Is it technically sound (bounce rate, page speed, time spent on site, goal conversion, managing leads through your sales funnel, conversion rates, etc.)? And, in my opinion, the most important factors are the KPIs (key performance indicators). You want people to call you. You want people to fill out a contact form. You want people to buy your product. Whatever it may be, your digital marketing should be boosting your KPIs.

So, to wrap it up, SEO is not a scam. SEO helps Google create better search results and can drive more traffic and potential business to your site. However, while SEO isn’t a scam, there are certainly scammy companies out there. When considering an SEO company, use some of the insights above to make your decision.

If you have made your decision...and your decision is Hoist, please send us a note. 😀

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