Depending on your level of SEO knowledge you may not be getting the full picture from your agency or freelancer. There are many valuable pieces of information that may be being omitted from your progress reports and general interactions with them. Some are more important than others; below we’ve listed 6 of the most important ones.
- They pay for links
Despite the fact it’s widely known that buying or selling links for the purpose of improving rankings is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines many SEO agencies (Including large and well respected ones) still utilise this tactic as a way to obtain links without too much effort, skipping the time investment of earning high quality links.
With Google’s high profile clamp down on link schemes you should make sure you are aware of where your links are coming from. We would recommend randomly spot checking a selection of links from one of your monthly reports (If you’re not told the URL’s of your links you should find out why as this may be cause for concern). If you’re not sure how to judge the quality of a link why not check out our blog post on the subject.
You rank for that anyway
In some instances your website may already hold relevance for a broad range of keywords, and you already rank well even without an active SEO campaign. This could happen for a variety of reasons, perhaps your website is particularly old and has lots of content, a site like this even with no optimisation is likely to feature well in the SERP’s. However some unscrupulous agencies are happy to take credit for work they didn’t do.
Half of your reported traffic are bots
Traffic figures can be largely inflated by various bots visiting your site and being counted as real human traffic. Internet security firm Incapsula conducted some research into a sample of 1000 of its customers who have an average of 50,000 to 100,000 monthly visitors. The research revealed that 51% of the reported visitors to the sites were scraper bots, spammers and/or hackers. Besides the potential security threat to your business there’s also the simple fact that such skewed reporting dilutes the value that you can assign to successful SEO.
You would be better off doing it yourself
In some circumstances businesses would be better off if they managed their SEO themselves. This could be for a variety of reasons, typically because competition in the industry sector is particularly low and doesn’t require a large investment of time or technical skills. In this situation it’s highly likely that a website may only require a few hours SEO work per week or even per month to maintain rankings. Of course if the field does become competitive it may then become cost effective to hire an SEO consultant or SEO marketing agency.
They outsource it all
Yes you read it correctly; there are many agencies that outsource nearly every aspect of their service to low cost local or overseas SEO’s. The idea is simple, get a client that pays x, pay the overseas SEO y and keep the difference as profit. As a whole this isn’t so much of a problem as long as you know it’s happening, however you do run the risk of your SEO becoming a game of Chinese whispers with the person at the end of the chain not really understanding you or your online objectives.
They have inserted secret links on your site back to theirs
It’s a rare occurrence but on a handful of occasions we have had to break the news to a client that a former agency (SEO or development) has inserted secret links back to their site. Whilst it’s common for web developers to leave a credit in the footer of a site this is almost always mutually agreed.
If you’ve read through this list and you’re unsure of your SEO provider’s stance on any of the points above it may be a good opportunity to pick up the phone or send an email and find out. Alternatively if you know exactly where your agency stands congratulations you’ve found yourself a good team, just remember techniques change so keep your eye on the ball, today’s white hat technique could be tomorrow’s grey or black hat method.