If you have been thinking about hiring an SEO consultant - either as an employee or getting an agency or freelancer to help you, or maybe you already have one and someone in there is supposed to help you with your SEO - are you familiar with any of the warning signs?
Are you sure that you’ve made the right decision?
Are there any signs you should be more aware of, making sure that it's helping you rather than damaging your organic traffic?
In the video below (with transcripts available underneath), I went over some of the warning signs that you need to be aware of when faced with a potential SEO consultant who may do more harm than good.
1. If They Give You Any Guarantees
The number one thing I would say is if anyone gives you a guarantee of anything, then that is a warning sign for sure. It could be anything from guaranteeing you a number of links or quality of links, guaranteeing you traffic, or guaranteeing you a high ranking.
Frankly, if anybody guarantees you anything, run away. Run away fast!
2. Focuses Only on Backlinks
Number two would be if someone is focusing only on backlinks. It's important. I'm not going to say it's not. It is definitely important for SEO. But if someone only focuses on backlinks, then they're missing the
For example, if you're not focusing on conversion and it's not helping you with your conversion, then there's no point getting you backlinks and increasing in ranking.
If you get an increase in traffic, this is not the right type of traffic. That's also a waste of time if it's not going to help you with your business. Backlinks are important but it's not the be-all and end-all for SEO.
3. Doesn’t Use Analytics At All
Number three would be if they don't use any forms of analytics at all. This is a big one. I've seen it happen to a previous client.
I'm not talking about using fancy tools and expensive tools. Using Google Analytics will do the job just fine. It's free and allows you to measure not just traffic, but the type of traffic, where it's coming from, which content is performing best, your conversion, your funnel - all of these things.
There are so many things you can get out of analytics, and if your SEO is not using analytics at all and it's not tracking anything, that is a huge warning sign.
Because at the end of the day, how do you know what's working and what’s not if you're not measuring anything?
4. Doesn’t Use Any SEO Tools
Number four would be if they don't use any kind of tools at all. Obviously, there are so many tools out there, and like it or not, we SEOs depend on those tools. You can't do the job without them.
There are so many paid tools available. There are enterprise-priced tools, which are crazy expensive, but you don't have to go for those high-budget ones. There are medium-budget or low-budget ones with plenty of good options out there.
Even tools that are free like Google Search Console are acceptable. Really, everyone should be using that for their own website. It gives you a lot of data that you wouldn't have been able to get otherwise.
And below is a playlist of just a few more free SEO tools that you could use.
If the SEO consultant is not even using that - and that's free - then there are some questions asked.
5. Doesn’t Look Into On-Page SEO
Number five would be if that person is not taking into consideration any on-page SEO.
That could be anything from your headline, your title, your subtitles, your page titles, your SEO titles, the meta description, the URL structures or the image optimization.
All of these things and more take up on-page SEO and they're important.
As I said earlier, it's not all about backlinks. There are other factors as well, and on-page SEO is just one. If they’re not taking that into consideration, then that's going to be another warning sign.
6. Doesn’t Take Content Seriously Enough
Number six would be if that person doesn't take content seriously enough. I don't know how you can expect to get traffic without creating content.
There is the usual cliché of high-quality content, but a thing like that is quite important as it allows you to target more keywords. It's is normally done via the blog on your website.
This can really help you with your organic traffic, target some keywords, and be more customer-friendly, targeting more user-oriented content.
There are so many things you could do with your blog. If you're not using it, then that’s not really the best way to go forward. Not only will it help you with your traffic and SEO, but it will help you with your credibility and your authority, building up that connection with your audience.
Again, if that's not important, then think about why you hired that SEO consultant.
7. Doesn’t Communicate With You Or Provide You With Any Updates
A scary one would be if that SEO doesn't give you any updates, doesn't communicate with you at all, and doesn't inform you of any information at all, being very, very quiet.
That is all super suspicious.
A good SEO should always keep in touch with what's going on, what he is working on, all these things.
It's not about sending an email or calling you every single day. It's just conversation by email, phone or video call, every week, once a month, whatever it is, you will have your own way of doing that. But if there isn't any information, any update at all, then what are they really doing?
8. Doesn’t Update Their Knowledge & Skills
It doesn't matter who you are, if you are an SEO and you don't keep yourself up-to-date, you will fall behind.
You can do that by; following information online from credible sources, going to big conferences or popular conferences, going to your local meet-ups and learning from other people, being part of online conversations.
Whatever it is, it's important for all SEOs to keep themselves up-to-date because everyone knows that things change very quickly.
What works now will not necessarily work again in 10 years time. What works 10 years ago doesn't work today.
That's why it's important that your SEO is up-to-date as much as possible. Make sure you get that information about whether they do that by themselves.
9. Doesn’t Follow the Best Practice
Another sign would be if that person doesn't follow the best practice. I've mentioned to you that what might have worked 10 years before would not work today.
Some of those are what you would call black-hat SEOs, which is not an ethical way to grow your site because you're going against Google guidelines.
This is why it's important for you to have some basic knowledge of SEO. You don't have to be an expert, and that is totally fine, but getting that basic knowledge will allow you to keep up-to-date and be aware of what's going on.
It will help you to make sure that your SEO is doing the best thing, following the best practice and not doing anything unethical.
The only way you can do that really is either get someone else to be knowledgeable about that topic or find out that information yourself, be aware of it, and just be understanding of what your SEO is doing.
Otherwise, you might want to think about why you hired that SEO in the first place.
10. Doesn’t Look at the Bigger Picture
I've mentioned earlier about a person who doesn't look at the bigger picture. All SEOs should do that.
I've mentioned before if you are tracking the wrong type of traffic, then it's not going to help you with your conversion and it's not going to help you with, bottom line, your revenue, or the subscribers, or whatever it is that is your overall goal.
At the same time, that person will also, if you think about it, what kind of impact would SEO have in other areas, and also, what other factors will influence SEO itself?
For example, even things like user experience and design, even the technical development, all the little things can have an impact on SEO.
Even things that you'd never thought of like what is your PR and the top department doing or your branding team, or maybe you have a customer service team?
They can all have an impact on SEO. That is the bigger picture. Not just the website but, in general, the overall business, everyone can have a part in SEO.
A good SEO consultant will be able to see that.
11. Outsources Everything to Someone Else
The final thing that is a big warning sign for me is if that SEO outsources everything to someone else. It doesn't matter where it's outsourced it to whether it's abroad or local. It doesn't really matter. Unless that person hired a team and trusted sources then maybe that's okay.
As long as they agreed that with you, that is fine but if that person outsources everything somewhere else, to someone else who is not really closely connected to that SEO consultant, then that's a bit of a warning sign.
It's fine for that person to outsource things that they are doing for their business. For example, maybe the SEO consultant will want to outsource any admin work or any paperwork, anything they're not good at like design or website development.
Maybe that's not their job, they pass it onto someone else which is their project. If you have paid that person and that person outsourced it, then that is a huge warning sign as well because at the end of the day you want to work with the person that you paid for.
It's different when it's one person, a freelancer, then you know who it is but, in an agency, you want to make sure that you are working with the right person.
Otherwise, if you don't know who you're working with then what are you paying your money for?
Make sure you know where your money's going and whether you're getting that back as well in return on investment.
If you think some of these points are relevant to you, maybe one or two points triggered an alarm bell for you, maybe you want an overall conversation with your SEO consultant first.
Maybe there's something left behind, maybe there's a misunderstanding, maybe the communication needs to be better, and that is all well and good and resolved, and that's it.
If that SEO consultant is not giving you the right answer, is being a bit hesitant or ignoring you or being overall wishy-washy about these things that they have been doing or it's being very laid back and stuff then that's maybe something that you need to be aware of.
It's a bit of a warning sign and I think that you should push that even more. Find out what's going on.
If everything I've mentioned is relevant to you, every single point, and if that is something that is happening to you right now, you need to reconsider your decision, whether you should continue with that person or not or you can do what I do and run.
That's it, just run!
I hope you find it useful, all these points, all these signs of a bad SEO consultant because at the end of the day a bad one can really damage your website in long-term and eventually have a negative effect on your business.
You want to make sure you capture as early as possible if that happened to you.
If something happened to you or if you have a story that you want to share, let me know in the comments down below.
I'm really curious to know because I'm trying to make sure nobody has to go through that and I've seen that happened to too many clients. It shouldn't happen at all.
Let me know in the comments if you have any experiences like that.