If you're searching for an SEO vendor, it can be hard to tell the good ones from the bad. Your best line of defense is to recognize the signs of a bad vendor. Certain SEO practices can be identified during the interview process and can expose a prospective partner as a fraud. Here are five such practices to look out for.
1. A Vague, Undefined Strategy
This is where the conversation starts; a weak SEO partner will be obvious right away. Effective SEO work requires a blueprint for success — you must understand what aspects of SEO will be prioritized, what keywords will be targeted and how limited resources will be allocated. If an SEO provider can't explain this to you or insists that they don't want to give away their methods, it's time to look elsewhere. As Forbes points out, SEO isn't the work of magic — every firm is playing with the same rules.
2. Rapid Spikes in Traffic
Spikes in traffic can feel like SEO success, but it's far more likely a sign your partner is using fake traffic to improve the appearance of their services. Outsourced traffic can be easily purchased from overseas sources, but it won't do anything to increase your ROI. Watch for these spikes, and if they happen, ask to see detailed information on why they occurred.
3. Paid Links and Reviews
Not only do paid links almost never work, Google can identify them and possibly penalize your site. This can kill your SEO rather than improve it. It's a similar situation with paid reviews, which can lead to consequences from the sites hosting those reviews. If you're caught, your brand will pay the price — not your SEO provider.
4. Irregular Communication
Do you have trouble hearing back from your SEO vendor or experience long lapses in communication? They should offer you a clear point of contact and be quick responding via phone, email or whatever communication method you choose.
5. Guaranteed Results
When researching SEO partners, you might be on the hunt for concrete metrics or goals their company promises to hit. Some vendors understand this and prey on your desire for guaranteed results. But in reality, it doesn't work that way. Instead, look for a vendor that can point you to past success stories to get a sense of what they can really offer your business.
Terminate any vendor who uses these SEO practices. Ultimately, your SEO goals are to drive quality traffic to your site — working with a vendor utilizing these tactics won't help you achieve those goals and may hurt your brand.