10 Red Flags When Choosing an SEO Company

Posted on June 17, 2012 by Nikhil P Naik

Educating oneself to the general vernacular associated with search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the first tasks which any one responsible for online marketing might consider. As with most industries, the more knowledge one has, the lower the likelihood of getting taken by spurious SEO companies. Though far from conclusive, the following list will provide some of the more important aspects to be on the lookout for when considering bringing in professional optimization help. One overriding factor worth bearing in mind is that while it may seem SEO companies are a dime a dozen, there are still some very legitimate, experienced and hard working individuals and businesses providing quality, proven services to their clients.

Choosing a good SEO Company

Also Read:

Google Search Operators Useful for SEOs
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Blog to Aid Your SEO Efforts
Internet Marketing SEO 101

 10 SEO Questions To Be Asked

  • Promise #1 Ranking? Does their website state they will push your site/pages to the number one ranking for specific keywords? If so, steer clear. It is extremely difficult to attain, much less maintain listings at the top of any keyword results page.
  • Low PageRank For Their Own Site? Has this company done its own optimization? What sort of rankings does its home page and key internal pages have? If they are not at least a 4 to 5 on the PR scale, stay away.
  • Negative Google Results For the SEO Company? Perform a search on the SEO company’s name. If they are or have been involved in scamming legitimate businesses the chances are very good that others have written about their nefarious acts. With the quick indexing time of the major search engines today, the chances of not learning the bad things are pretty minimal should one take the time to look.
  • Refusal To Provide Referrals? Legitimate businesses, of any classification, will almost always provide interested potential customers with several current or recent clients who have had dealings with their company. If the SEO outfit under consideration refuses to provide a client list under the grounds of confidentiality, consider they don’t have any real customers and a scam is about.
  • Low SERP For SEO Keywords? Ask for a list of keywords the SEO company has optimized their own pages for. Perform searches on those keywords to see how high in the SERPs they rank. If they are not able to get themselves into the top ten listings, chances are they won’t get a customer to rank well, either.
  • Automated Submissions? One sly little test to pose could be to ask how many automated submissions come with the SEO package price. Legitimate services should politely inform they do not employ the practice of submitting websites and pages automatically to various search engines. Scam operations will try and impress by stating very large numbers. Run. Far. Fast.
  • Reputable Backlinks? PageRank and overall web site rankings are heavily dependent upon large numbers of incoming links. Ask the service where and how they are generating their backlinks. If the words link farm, web rings, or proprietary link generation systems are heard, understand this company very well may be using slight of hand, or black hat SEO techniques to promote better rankings.
  • What Is Being Said in the Forums? People talk. And they talk a lot about bad situations. The Internet in general and focused forums specifically will provide the interested researcher with plenty of knowledge from those who have had negative interactions with a company.
  • Are the First Impressions Good? What sort of feelings about the veracity and legitimacy of the SEO company were experienced when meeting for the first time? Or was everything handled online or via the telephone? If a gut check does not provide the proverbial warm fuzzy, perhaps the universe is trying to tell one something.
  • Subscription Plans Available? Though not a universal red flag, more legitimate SEO companies understand optimization efforts take a long time and require ongoing maintenance and attention. If the company in consideration only has pricing plans to get ones listings to the top, but nothing ongoing, reconsider whether any online marketing budget should get wasted with them.

Jason Knox is a freelance writer for 97th Floor.

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About Nikhil P Naik

Nikhil Naik has a Master's Degree in Information Systems, and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. He also loves playing cricket, listening to music, and traveling. Twitter Handle - @buzz_nikhil.

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