Congratulations! You’ve hired an SEO company to help your business get found on the web. They’ve promised to get your business quickly ranked on page one, but unfortunately, they’ve given you little to no understanding of how they will get you there and no long-term plan of how they will keep you there.
Often the reason you are left in the dark is that the SEO company will put your online presence in peril by taking shortcuts and breaking rules that have been established by Google. These dirty practices will likely involve using bad keyword analysis, posting bad content, and pointing spammy backlinks to your site.
Fortunately, there are rebuttable SEO companies who can help you steer clear of shady practices that could ultimately lead to your website getting penalized. Here are some dirty little secrets of SEO you should be aware of, question if you see them, and be willing to walk away from if your SEO company tries to validate them.
Here Are the Biggest Shortcuts to Avoid with SEO
Leveraging Terrible Content
Content is one of the most important ways Google and your visitors understand what your website is about. Without relevant content related to your what your company’s products and services are, Google can’t discern what the page is meant to promote. These mixed signals confuse search engines, ultimately hurting your rankings. Similarly, if you have no content, thin content, or you’re taking content from another website, this will also hurt your web presence.
The Dirty Secret: Many SEO companies offer free or cheap content in an SEO campaign because it’s an easily quantifiable way to say “hey, look, we did something for you this month.” The problem with this practice is that content is often outsourced, written by someone who isn’t a native speaker and isn’t showcasing your company’s expertise. This not only sends Google a red flag, but it can also turn off visitors that could be converted to customers.
What to Ask Your SEO Company About Content
You should know right away if your SEO company is posting good content and blogs for your business. If there is any question, you should ask the following:
- Who is writing the content for my website?
- What is their background in writing?
- What type of research do they do before writing content?
The first question will immediately tell you if you’re getting what you paid for. If an SEO company is unwilling to tell you more about who is writing the content, they probably don’t know themselves – or care. If you can afford to hire a freelance writer yourself that has industry knowledge, go for it. Otherwise, it may be time to ditch your current SEO company for one that understands the power of content.
Targeting the Wrong Keywords
Keywords help Google understand what a webpage is about and where it should show up when someone uses their search engine. By implementing the right keywords – the way people are searching to find what you offer – you’re driving customers to your website that are likely to buy a product, fill out a contact form, or give you a call. What you don’t want is an SEO company choosing irrelevant keywords or relevant ones with low search volume.
The Dirty Secret: It’s easy to rank low-volume keywords with very little competition for anyone, even if you’re doing SEO yourself. But that’s not what is going to lead to new customers. By focusing on high-volume, competitive keywords in your industry, your website is being shown to the most people looking for what you do. The right keywords may take longer to rank for, require more budget, and could be harder to maintain than their low-volume counterparts. However, using the right keywords could make or break your SEO campaign.
What to Ask Your SEO Company About Keywords
If an SEO company is boasting about its success in ranking your website for hundreds, if not thousands of keywords, ask them the following:
- What are the top 3 to 5 keywords in my niche?
- How competitive are the keywords being targeted?
- Was my website already ranking well for those keywords, and how long until they’re top 3 on page one of Google search results?
From the moment you start with an SEO company, they should be asking questions about your business and researching what your competitors are doing. They should be aggressive about the keywords that will help your website succeed, even if it takes longer than you hoped to get to the top.
Buying or Building Backlinks
Backlinks are still arguably the number one ranking factor for any website on Google. A backlink is essentially an endorsement from website A to website B saying that the website is a good source of information. After all, why would someone link to another website if they didn’t want you to go to it? Well, that’s a loaded question. A website doesn’t have to be valuable to link to it. Anybody can link to any other website on the internet for any reason they want. There’s nothing anyone – even Google – can do about it.
The Dirty Secret: SEO companies learned over a decade ago that the more links you have, the higher you rank. In turn, Google became smarter at detecting the spammy and irrelevant links, though a lot of them still slip through the cracks. Some SEO companies take shortcuts by building their own network of websites to link to client websites or by buying links from irrelevant or spammy websites to give a quick boost to your rankings. However, Google considers this practice a severe infraction and may penalize your website. You may get a manual penalty or an algorithmic penalty that could cause your website to be deindexed or devalued. While there are steps, you can take to fix this, recovering from these types of penalties may be difficult for your business to recover from.
What to Ask Your Company About Backlinks
Here are some questions to ask your SEO company about backlinks pointing to your website to avoid being hit with a penalty:
- What is your backlink strategy for my website?
- Does your company buy or build links back to my website?
- What are you doing about spammy links pointing to my website?
Backlinks are the most debated, misunderstood, and misreported part of SEO. Make sure you’re asking questions about backlinks from the moment you choose an SEO company as mistakes in this area will quickly get you on Google’s naughty list.
Here’s How to Succeed with SEO
There are two big tips to succeed with SEO that are often overlooked by businesses:
- Choose your SEO company wisely.
- Make sure to have an SEO strategy in place that both sides agree upon are in the best interest of your business.
An excellent place to start is sitting down with your SEO company to go over what the next six to twelve months of your campaign will consist of. This should include all aspects of SEO, what impact they’ll have, and where your website will be positioned at the sixth and twelve-month mark. This will give you insight into exactly what they plan to do and whether it’s aligned with SEO best practices for long-term growth and success.
By choosing the right SEO company to partner with your business, not only are you getting your money’s worth, but you trust them to act in your company’s best interest. This means they employ reputable SEO practice, and that they answer your questions with transparency and help educate you, so that you know the roadmap and when detours or adjustments need to be made to your SEO campaign.
If you suspect the SEO company you’ve hired is not using best practices, you can always contact Sympler to analyze your website’s SEO health. We will give you the insight you need to boost your company’s website rankings.