Is the SEO Company You Hired Helping or Harming Your Business? Here’s How to Tell

Search Engine Watch proclaimed SEO “dead” way back in 2012. And yet, all these years later, you sit here wondering whether the SEO company you hired should get the boot.

If SEO is dead, why did you hire them in the first place? 

Because SEO isn’t dead, of course. The state of the practice is unrecognizable from even a few years ago, to say nothing of the simple days of Web 1.0. It’s a great deal more complicated, for one thing. It’s also harder for the average person to understand, or so most SEO companies say.

But here’s the thing. SEO is still valuable, even essential, for people and companies who aren’t satisfied with their organic search engine results position. It’s essential, too, for people and companies who’d prefer to suppress negative, unflattering or just plain inaccurate information on web domains they don’t directly control.

SEO is essential, it’s complicated, and it isn’t cheap. So how can you be sure you’re getting your money’s worth with your current provider? And, if you discover you’re not, how do you make the necessary tweaks without undoing any gains? How do you protect yourself from more damage by inadvertently hiring the wrong replacement?

Easy. The nuts and bolts of SEO might seem obscure to someone without time to spend learning the trade, but the basic attributes of a good SEO company (and a good SEO strategy) aren’t difficult to understand. Figure out whether your SEO company is helping or harming your business by using these guidelines.

  1. They Don’t Have a Lot of Feedback for You

You’re not an expert, true. But you’re savvy enough to understand that you need SEO help. A true SEO expert knows what kind of help your situation warrants — they get that one size doesn’t fit all and will customize a strategy for your unique needs.

Ergo, the first unmistakable warning sign that the company you hired isn’t acting in your best interest comes early, immediately following the vendor’s initial analysis of your SEO position. Said analysis should produce reams of feedback, and fairly specific feedback at that. If the takeaway is “eh, you could do better and we can help,” and that message doesn’t change in response to probing questions, what exactly are you paying for?

  1. They Don’t Do Online Reputation Management

SEO and online reputation management (ORM) aren’t synonyms. They’re distinct — but, crucially, they’re also complementary. Seasoned online reputation management companies incorporate SEO tactics into broader ORM strategies, offering what’s normally an expensive standalone service as part of a cost-effective package. If reputation concerns drove you into the arms of your SEO company before you realized they don’t know the first thing about ORM, it’s time for a change.

  1. They’re Not Transparent About Their Work

If that initial reluctance to give specific feedback or talk in any detail about your SEO position and strategy continues months into your relationship, it’s time to jump ship. You should be getting detailed weekly updates from your SEO company, if not more frequent, and it should be clear even to your non-expert eyes what they’re doing.

  1. You’re Not Seeing the Results You Were Promised

Good SEO companies don’t promise first-page Google rankings or eye-watering traffic figures, but they should improve your SEO position over time (and, again, show their work). If your traffic and rankings aren’t budging after months of work or are actually moving in the wrong direction, it’s time to end the relationship. Sharp drops in traffic or ranking could signal that Google has penalized your domain for a violation that your SEO company should have known better to avoid. Those violations could take time to clean up.

  1. They’re Cookie-Cutter Through and Through

SEO is mostly science, with some art splashed around the margins. It’s not conducive to cookie-cutter service packages that promise x services and y results for z dollars in t timeframe. You see that framing, you run the other way.

Don’t Let Your SEO Company Kick You Around

You hired an SEO company because you aren’t an SEO expert and you don’t have time to become one. You’ve got too many other fires burning.

Your lack of SEO expertise doesn’t mean you’re a sucker, though. You’re smart and capable enough to know when someone’s blowing smoke at you.

If your current SEO company throws up any of these red flags, ditch them. The SEO company is replaceable. Your company’s competitive edge as well as it’s online reputation, however, are not replaceable. And that’s the bottom line.

Fabrizio VanMarcino