Google has some terrific insights into how to avoid being taken advantage of by a scammy, spammy, black hat SEO firm. Many SEOs are actually well educated, rained individuals that keep up with the latest tweaks to algorithms used by search engines and provide honest, trustworthy services that achieve consistent results. Beware, however, SEO ‘gurus’ that make fantastical claims without being able to back them up.
The web is full of ‘rogue’ SEOs who take the money and run!
The first question to ask any SEO services firm is: Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines? The answer should always be an unequivocal yes, and they should be able to converse with you about those guidelines in a knowledgeable manner (which mean you should read them yourself before going SEO shopping!)
They should also be willing to communicate with you, share with you all the changes made to your site, and provide detailed information about their recommendations and the reasoning behind them.
They should have experience in your industry, and possibly in your city if you want to target local search. Don’t hire some fly by night who sends you an email and who doesn’t even show up in search results themselves for the services they offer.
SEOs can and do provide clients with valuable services in most cases, but unfortunately some unethical SEOs use overly aggressive marketing efforts and manipulate search engine results in ways that equal scamming the system – which might deliver quick results, but ultimately will end in your losing ranking spots and even possibly being de-indexed by Google.
Remember the following: No one, repeat, no one! can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. There is no SEO firm that has a “special relationship” with Google, or can provide a “priority submit” to Google. Google doesn’t play favorites with ‘pet’ SEOs, and there is no such thing as ‘priority submission’ – everyone has to submit following the process of submitting a Sitemap or the Add A Page URL, which is free.
Don’t hire a firm that is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do. SEO is not some huge mystery, It’s drudgery, time consuming, work, and SEO firms provide a service to get it done faster. You don’t hire a maid because they have ancient secrets to housecleaning,. You hire a maid because you have other things to do. Think of SEO as housekeeping for your website.
If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, or spams keywords or buys links, you could be removed entirely from Google’s index. You are ultimately responsible for the actions of any firms or individuals you hire, so be careful. Choose wisely, and research what you need done as well as the reputations of the top contenders for your business.
Also make sure your site is showing in results for valid searches, not in advertising sectors – some SEO’s will use your money to buy cheap ads to get you near the top of the page – but as soon as the money runs out your site will be gone. You want ORGANIC listings that will last for a long time with maintenance, not paid for ads that drain your budget.