5 Signs You’re Working with a Bad SEO Company

5 Signs You’re Working with a Bad SEO Company

Google recently released a great video offering advice to businesses looking to hire an SEO. It’s mandatory watching for anyone in that situation.

Of course, if you’re already working with an SEO company, you probably aren’t looking for a video explaining how to hire the right SEO. But maybe you are trying to figure out whether the SEO company you’re working with is really earning their money. Are they actually accomplishing anything? Are they doing something that’s going to get your site into trouble later? And why in the world haven’t your leads or sales increased even though they keep sending you reports that boast about hundreds of #1 rankings and huge year-over-year increases in organic search traffic from Bing?

Whether you’ve been working with your SEO company for three months or three years, it wouldn’t hurt to ask yourself whether or not they’re any good. SEO is never instant (well, good SEO never is), but the sooner you can figure out if your SEO is a moneysuck, the less money they’ll be able to suck out of your business.

Here are five surefire signs you’re working with a bad SEO company.

1. They Don’t Care About Any Channels Other Than Organic Search

We all know that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, but an SEO company should be able to provide you with a lot more. They should be coordinating efforts with your other campaigns. They should be providing email marketing, content strategy, and A/B testing. They should be discussing digital advertising opportunities. They should be communicating with you about what they’re doing to help your business. And they should be showing you results. They shouldn’t have GOOGLE 4 LIFE tattooed on their foreheads. If all they’re doing is taking keyword lists and working on black magic behind a steel curtain, then they aren’t a good SEO.

2. They Don’t Talk About Your Business Goals

Think back to when you hired your current SEO company. Did they guarantee top rankings and fast results when they contacted you out of the blue in an email that started with “Dear SIr” and contained 14 misspellings? Or did they spend time getting to know your business and learning about your goals?

The goal of an SEO campaign should never be to get rankings or fast results. Sure, rankings are nice, but they don’t guarantee anything (and they definitely can’t be guaranteed). Every aspect of an SEO campaign should be designed to get you closer to a business goal. Otherwise, why are you paying for it? If you want to buy a spot on top of Google, use AdWords. Don’t get me wrong. You should be using AdWords. You should be using it with SEO and other channels (see #1). If you haven’t had a serious talk about business goals--and how you can reach them--with your SEO company, then they’re a bad SEO.

3. They Never Adjust Their Strategy

Google updates its algorithm over 500 times per year. Sure, most of those are tiny updates that won’t affect your business in the slightest, but that’s still a lot of updates. Some of them will have some impact on you. If your SEO company is still using the same strategy they were three years ago, then it’s time to let them go. They should constantly be coming to you with strategy updates.

SEO should be a constant process of implement, analyze, adjust. Your SEO company should be checking in with you for your continued input regarding your business goals. When there’s a major update that might affect your business, they should be telling you about it. And they shouldn’t be blaming a major update for your sudden business failure. Yeah, you don’t really care about how SEO works, and you don’t want to be lectured about Google’s algorithm. But you do want to know that your SEO company knows what they are talking about and that they pay attention to what’s going on.

One last thing about strategy: if their strategy involves meta keywords or buying links, you need to fire them right now.

4. They Rest on Their Laurels and Don’t Pursue Continuous Improvement

Remember how your SEO company got you those top rankings for some big-time keywords that drove a lot of traffic and even a few new leads or sales? Yup, so do they. They remember it really well. In fact, they remember it so well that they haven’t done anything since. So while you saw huge growth the first six months, your sales have flatlined. But you’re still paying them thousands of dollars every month while they sit around “maintaining” those rankings. Getting those initial top rankings might mean they are good at doing SEO. But if they aren’t constantly looking for growth opportunities, they aren’t a good SEO for your business.

5. They Care More About Keywords and Rankings Than Leads and Sales

How much money is a #1 ranking worth to you? Here’s a hint: NOTHING! It doesn’t matter where you are ranked if you aren’t getting leads and sales. Rankings by themselves never add to your bottom line. Here’s a common conversation businesses have with bad SEO companies:

Business: We’ve been giving you 3 grand a month for two years, but we’re not really sure it’s worth the money. Are we really getting anything out of this whole SEO thing?

SEO: Get off my back! We’ve given you 100s of number one rankings during the past two years. You’re even ranking number one for “highly customized widgets made of plastic with green caps that i can buy on sundays in minnesota!” Haven’t we done enough for you, you ingrate!

Business: But we haven’t sold any widgets made of plastic with green caps on a Sunday to any Minnesotans this year. In fact, our sales are down this year. Down across the board, especially for our plastic widgets with green caps.

SEO: But your traffic is WAY up over what you got this same week during 2014!

Business: Ah, good point. I can pay the bills with website traffic. Let’s double our SEO retainer moving forward. Excellent work, you!

SEO is about a lot more than keywords and rankings. It’s about helping a business put their best foot forward so they can get more sales and leads. SEO means nothing if it doesn’t lead to dollar signs. If your SEO doesn’t care about your sales and leads, you’ve got yourself a terrible SEO.

Are You Ready to Fire Your SEO?

Don’t be afraid to fire your SEO if they aren’t getting the job done. And don’t be afraid to find a new one. For most companies, SEO is an essential piece of a good overall strategy. Just because your current SEO is bad doesn’t mean that SEO is bad. When done the right way, SEO can deliver massive ROI. You just have to find someone who’s willing to do it the right way.

Written by

Nate Tower

Nate Tower is the President of Perrill and has over 12 years of marketing and sales experience. During his career in digital marketing, Nate has demonstrated exceptional skills in strategic planning, creative ideation and execution. Nate's academic background includes a B.A. with a double major in English Language and Literature, Secondary Education, and a minor in Creative Writing from Washington University. He further expanded his expertise by completing the MBA Essentials program at Carlson Executive Education, University of Minnesota.

Nate holds multiple certifications from HubSpot and Google including Sales Hub Enterprise Implementation, Google Analytics for Power Users and Google Analytics 4. His unique blend of creative and analytical skills positions him as a leader in both the marketing and creative worlds. This, coupled with his passion for learning and educating, lends him the ability to make the complex accessible and the perplexing clear.


Nate Tower

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Feb 17, 2017