We’ve helped many clients who came to us after a bad digital marketing experience. Most of them tell us how they trusted a digital marketing agency and how badly things ended for them. The most affected ones are the startup businesses. They tend to spend thousands of dollars on digital marketing; only to realize later that they got scammed. In most of the cases, we found out that the digital marketing companies were using black-hat SEO techniques to generate traffic and backlinks.
“We don’t want you to go through the same thing and lose thousands of dollars before you figure out what went wrong.”
In this article, we are going to help you understand whether your digital marketing partner is helping your business or harming it. Here are some warning signs that you should notice.
1.They don’t provide details or share any deliverables
By deliverables, we don’t mean results like an instant rise in rankings. We mean that your marketing partner should be able to share a marketing plan or a plan of action within the first two or three weeks of signing the contract.
Now you can’t expect instant results with SEO as it takes time – the usual time frame to see noticeable results is around 3-4 months. However, your SEO partner should be able to provide some deliverables within the first few weeks. Here are some of the things that your SEO firm should provide you within the first month:
1.A detailed SEO audit report
2. Complete website analysis report
3.Website content optimized for SEO
4.Third party articles posted on authority website that link back to your website
5.Weekly progress status report (tasks are done)
2. They don’t inquire enough
If your SEO partner isn’t asking enough questions or not asking for access to your CMS and social accounts – that’s a warning sign. A good SEO firm would ask for details such as – access to your CMS, Google Analytics, Webmaster tools and social media accounts. They would ask you about preferred keywords, your target audience, goals and about any past SEO experience. f they don’t ask for any of the above-mentioned things, chances are they are just going to add bad backlinks via their network of spammy websites.
3. No recommendations or suggestions
If your digital marketing company doesn’t offer any suggestions or provide recommendations for analyzing your website and business. You can tell that either they lack expertize or they are simply doing nothing.
SEO firms like these would just show you an increase in backlinks. They would try to make you feel that you’re getting a lot of backlinks generated whereas, in reality, you’re getting links from spammy sites.
The good ones will keep sharing ideas, recommendations, and suggestions to help your business grow. They will be interested in your success and put effort to ensure a long-term partnership with your company.
4. They don’t tell you about their techniques or strategies
If they keep telling you that they cannot share strategies or tools they use to provide SEO services – chances are they are scamming you. “True SEO is based on White hat practices that are legit, accepted and proven to show results.”
If they tell you that they can’t disclose their practices due to the competitive nature of the industry or chalk it up to confidentiality – Let go of that company, they are a scam.
5. Getting slapped with a manual penalty
This is quite a big blow that you can get from Google. If you get a manual penalty message within one or two months of working with an SEO company, you need to talk to the SEO expert.
While it doesn’t necessarily mean that your site got penalized because of your SEO firm, you still need to question them and find out why it happened. Ask them what changes they have been doing and what is their plan for recovery. If the answers you get from them are not satisfactory or well-informed – stop working with them.
6. Drop in ranking
While there could be many reasons for a drop in rankings as you begin working with a new SEO partner, you need to be informed about the SEO practices they are doing.
A sharp drop in rankings could be due to a change in strategy (try not to obsess over it). But keep monitoring the rankings. If there is a steady decline in the rankings over a course of the period, the chances are that your SEO firm isn’t doing their job right.
Question them about their strategy and what they are doing to improve results. If they can’t convince you, stop working with them.
7. Sharp drop in website traffic
Well, a sharp drop in traffic may not necessarily be your new SEO partner’s fault. It may be due to algorithm changes by the search engine.
You need to ask them questions – why it happened and let them explain in detail.
Also determine, what changes they recently made that could have caused a sudden drop in traffic. They should be able to pin down what caused the drop and provide a strategy to get things back on track.
What can you do?
Now that you know about the signs – there are a few things that you can do in order to avoid getting scammed.
Do your own research
Before hiring an SEO company, research about them. Check their website, read about the team, previous client testimonials, portfolios etc.
You can expect your new digital marketing partner to give you a heads-up on changing digital marketing trends. But you should also keep an eye out for recent trends.
Get in touch with your SEO team regularly
It team effort. Schedule a weekly or bi-weekly call with your SEO team and discuss the progress, strategies, and plans. You have to proactively, provide them with new company updates, policies and content for press releases, blogs, and social media.
Keep realistic expectations
You have to understand that there are no such guarantees like “results in 1 month or get your money back” in SEO. The companies that do provide such guarantees – steer clear of them!
No true SEO firm can offer you a 100% guarantee – Why?
Because SEO is always in flux. It is dependent on the power of Search engines and its methodologies. Your digital marketing partner cannot guarantee 100% results because it is not in their control. Think of it this way – Can Microsoft guarantee the success of Apple’s next product? No, because it is not in its control.
SEO experts utilize tried and tested, legit SEO practices to market your website. There would be ups and down, and you should set your expectations accordingly.
Lastly, you need to set up a complete transparency policy with your digital marketing partner. Ask for regular reports and track their progress. Keep monitoring their activities – If anything seems out of place or you don’t understand it – Ask questions