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If you’re like many business owners, you probably know that you need search engine optimization (SEO) but you’re not sure why. Or if you know why you need it, you probably don’t know exactly what SEO consultants or agencies do to help your business grow.
This article discusses the problems with bad SEO companies and consultants. When you do a quick Google or Bing search for “seo services”, you’re likely going to see a lot of agencies offering “free SEO audits” to attract businesses.
You may also find web directories who claim that they’ve got the best service providers listed on their sites. But these directories are pay-to-play or in other words, agencies pay them to be listed there.
On the other hand, you may have also heard about other entrepreneurs who had bad experiences working with so-called SEO experts. And if you own a website, which I think you probably do, you’re likely receiving 1 to 5 (or more) emails per day from “cash-grab SEOs”, guaranteeing you page one rankings.
Here’s one that I got (at least… one of them):
For many business owners, the story goes a little like this:
You try doing things without SEO but you soon realize that just publishing a website doesn’t bring visitors. And the best way to get organic traffic is to get serious about SEO. A few days later, you get another one of these emails and say to yourself, “why not give it a shot”.
So you do, and after working with that person for x+ years, you get ZERO results worthwhile or worse, your site gets banned for bad SEO practices. Sound about right?
This is a big problem for business owners and a debacle for the industry as a whole! Getting these kinds of emails probably makes you wonder if SEO firms or consultants are as good as they claim to be.
The real problem, especially for business owners, is that SEO is still a very misunderstood term. And one of the main issues with consultants and agencies is that most of them don’t take the time necessary to fully explain how SEO works.
That’s a primary issue but of course, there are more problems with bad SEO companies and consultants. So let’s dive in, shall we?
1. Who’s Doing The Work?
In truth, it’s often always the inexperienced staff members who do the work!
For the most part, whenever an agency’s SEO expert gives you a pitch, they’re just trying to get you to sign. There’s nothing wrong with this but issues can arise when the work is done by the junior team without adequate supervision from the expert.
Think about it this way, companies save money by having very few established SEO experts and more entry-level associates. Reason? Because they can pay the latter less or even minimum wage (sadly, this happens often).
Agencies want to put their best foot forward during the sales pitch. So they usually have their most experienced guys present to clients.
But once you sign up, the actual work may be passed on to the inexperienced staff or worse, outsourced to a third party who may or might not know what they’re doing. Not to mention understand your overall brand mission, UVP (unique value proposition), story etc.
When you hire an SEO agency to help you with your business, you want the most experienced staff working on your site.
2. Is The Work Done After a Report is Delivered?
When it’s a consulting gig, most SEO consultants think their job is done when they deliver their report to executives. Some consultants will submit reports such as an SEO audit or competitive analysis but leave you to figure out how to implement their recommendations. Not good!
Getting the best SEO advice means nothing if it doesn’t get implemented. What great consultants do is provide a checklist of actionable items and a separate document that elaborates or explains how to implement them.
In fact, many of them will also follow up to ensure that your teams are taking action on the deliverables. These are the consultants you want to hire.
3. Some Agency Operations Are Not Organized
A lot of SEO agencies are really digital marketing companies with a lot of work on their to-do list.
Most of their staff work as Jack or Jill of all trades, working simultaneously on SEO, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, etc.
So they’re usually overworked and learn on the job as they go. This can often compromise the quality of work for clients. You should ensure that they’ll be a dedicated person or team, depending on the size of the project, working on your business.
4. SEO Agencies Have a High Staff Turnover Rate.
The high turnover in agencies is normally due to low wages and overworked or burned out staff. If you’re working with an organization where people quit quite often, it can hurt the value or ROI of SEO.
If you’re continuously working with a new person, they may not be familiar with your business, website, product or service. He or she would need time to study your business so that they understand how the agency can help you. They’ll also need to figure out what the previous person has done.
All of this can take time and quality away from the work, thus, making things less efficient.
5. The Best SEO Experts Don’t Work in Agencies
You’ll come across brilliant SEO consultants who work as a sole proprietorship. These people have different reasons why they don’t want to work in a company. But most of the time, they feel that they work best alone or they don’t want their pay to be restricted by agency operations.
You might think that working with a one-man team would mean a slow process of completing the SEO work they’ve been contracted to do. And this can happen, but most solo operators understand the need for timely and effective execution.
So they’ll often have people they can count on and call on to help with projects. Usually, other solo experts in the field.
How To Find Good SEO Companies and Consultants
There are pros and cons to working with SEO agencies. And the same goes for consultants too. That’s right, there are lots of good companies and consultants out there, despite the issues that we’ve covered here today.
But you need to do some research to find them and that doesn’t mean going to a directory or list that claims they’ve got the best-of-the-best listed. Remember that these are all pay-to-play.
There’s no one way to do SEO and results are what matters. Search engines only have vague guidelines for SEO because let’s be real, they most probably, secretly hate the industry and here’s why:
The industry may take ad revenue away from search engines. Plenty of businesses combine pay-per-click (PPC) with SEO until they start ranking for their most important terms. Then they stop PPC completely.
Why pay when you’re dominating the SERPs? Just focus on ranking more keywords. That being said, there are benefits to using both strategies.
The only way to guarantee that you’ll get quality service is to educate yourself on the basics of SEO. Ask probing questions when looking for a service provider. Ask for details like what exactly needs to be done and how long it should take to see results.
However, the time that it takes to see results in SEO varies a lot and no consultant or agency can guarantee a timeframe. Find a consultant who knows what they’re doing. Someone who’ll stake their professional reputation on the line to get you results.
Quality SEO takes a lot of time and you’ve probably heard some people say it’s “expensive”. But ‘expensive’ is relative because it can mean different things individually.
Generally, people who think this way can’t see the big picture or the ROI that SEO is able to achieve when executed with purpose.
Much like the stock market, SEO is a long-term growth strategy and you’ll likely experience result increases plus declines along the way. But one thing is for sure, the benefits far exceed the waiting period.If you aren't thinking about owning a stock for 10 years, don't even think about owning it for 10 minutes.' – Warren Edward Buffett, American business magnate, investor, and philanthropistClick To Tweet
Part of the same can be said for SEO. It’s a long-term investment that pays off.