15 Tips To Spot A Fake SEO
How To Spot A Fake SEO Agency Or A Consultant?
It's very important to know who is a genuine SEO service provider and who is a fake. Else, the business loses time, effort and money that has a direct impact on ROI. In this story, I share how to spot a fake SEO agency or a fake SEO consultant.
With numerous websites sprouting daily and with ever growing ranking competition, the need for SEO services have become paramount. And, with the choice of many SEOs, who are entering daily into the market in great numbers, there lurks a possibility of dealing with fake SEO agencies / companies and consultants. To spot and avoid them, I suggest you to take note of the following points (all the points are with reference to Google Search which may also be applicable to other search engines):
Guarantee of page rankings or money-back scheme. To start with, the number one point to notice is if an SEO guarantees ranking of web pages in Google Search. If so, turn down their proposal without any second thought because rankings cannot be guaranteed. This is a big Google page ranking scam. Also, be aware of any money back guarantee schemes in this regard and avoid the trap. You shall not get back your money and just face all kinds of unreasonable excuses from them. Many website owners fall for this trap and suffer (down the line) for their time, effort and money. So, be very careful and avoid this trap as the very first checkpoint.
Backlinks salvo. I find many, many, website owners have a misconception regarding backlinks quantity which is advocated and spread by unqualified SEO agencies and consultants. They think having hundreds and thousands of backlinks to their website would help in ranking but, unfortunately this is a big myth that is not true as ranking depends on the quality of backlinks and not on the quantity of same. So, all SEO agencies and consultants who stress and rely on the backlinks quantity alone, do not understand the dangers of unworthy backlinks and hence are totally fake SEO service providers. I'm coming up with a new blog on backlinks so, keep an eye on home page / SannidhiSEO Twitter account / SannidhiSEO Facebook page. For time being, the take away point to note is: if they entirely rely on amassing backlinks without any consideration for the quality of same then you must avoid them.
Not transparent. Fake SEO agencies and consultants are not transparent in communicating matters and provide vague explanations. Primarily there are three points to spot a fake one in this regards. 1) If they do not communicate clearly the strategies and implementation methodologies for short term as well as long term duration, they do not understand SEO properly and should be noted as fake. 2) They do not share factual data about the measurement / status of agreed upon key performance indicators (KPIs). 3) They surprise clients with sudden hidden costs for no reasonably apparent reasons. So, be wary of aforementioned points to decide about selecting or continuing of their services.
Uses jargon. One of the simple ways to spot a fake SEO service provider is to see if they use SEO jargon in discussions, knowing the fact that clients do not have a background in SEO. If the client has knowledge in SEO then it's well and good as it expedites the communication process. But, if the client does have SEO knowledge and if they do not explain concepts in clear and simple way then they must be avoided for consultation. Do not shy away in asking questions to help explain concepts in simple way. And, if they fail to do so and still use complicated words to impress and win the contract, avoid their services.
Lack of web development experience. This is a very, very, important point that almost all clients overlook. Why? Because SEO is an intrinsic part of web development. A website may exist without any need for optimization. For instance, many scientists like Terence Tao blog with primary intention to spread knowledge and not to rank in search results or make money from it. But, SEO exists only because a website (or mobile apps) exists that needs optimization. So, the better understanding of websites and web infrastructure an agency or a consultant has, the better they are in a position to optimize. To have a simple analogy, consider two engineers who optimize Formula 1 racing car. One who just understands few tweaking points and the other who has an experience in building the car itself and thus has deeper understanding of the engine, the body structure, the aero-dynamics etc... Now, you can imagine who is in a better position to optimize the car for the race. So, opt for service providers, who preferably, have web development experience rather than fake ones who simply claim they can optimize.
Quarter of no result. Clients who have already engaged service providers should see some improvement, within first three months, for an agreed upon key performance indicators. I say some because the improvements depend on many factors and cannot be generalized. But, if optimization is properly planned and implemented, there should be satisfactory noticeable improvements. And, if they are not able to show even reasonable improvements then they are certainly fake service providers, who have no idea about optimization, and must be immediately discontinued from contract.
Ownership of assets. All digital assets (like website domain name, admin access to Google Search Console, Google Analytics and other products) must belong to the business. On behalf of clients, some SEO agencies and consultants register domain names on their details rather than on client's details. They even register Google My Business (GMB) profiles giving their details and holding admin rights to it. This is very unethical and an act that only fake and shoddy service providers carry out. So, if you come across such agencies and consultants you must avoid their service offerings.
No online presence. If an SEO service provider either has no website or no social presence (Twitter / Facebook) or no presence on networking platform (LinkedIn) then they are fake. As an online presence of any aforementioned sources provides information about them, any genuine SEO agency and consultant will have a presence on at least one of the platforms. So, make sure to verify their source on one or more platforms. And, just because they are present on such platforms does not necessarily confirm that they are genuine. You have to take other points into consideration to see if they are genuine or fake.
Contractual lock-ins. Be wary of contractual lock-in agreements from agencies and consultants for long periods who do not have a prior success background. If they are not well-known in the industry and try to stress to sign contractual agreements then you must avoid them. After first quarter of their proven services, renewal for further period could be based on monthly or bi-monthly or quarterly basis. And, if they are exceptionally good, then the contract renewals could be considered from every six months to even one year period.
No references or case studies. If an SEO agency or consultant has no reference of any kind on their website or on any SEO related platforms (like Reddit groups or Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups or endorsements by others on such platforms) and they boast about their offerings claiming to have prior expertise and experience then they are fake. Some SEO service providers may not be interested to disclose about their clientele. In such cases, at least check if they can provide convincing case studies or some endorsements by others or possess some reputation on open platforms like Reddit, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc...
Bases paid search for organic traffic. Fake SEO agencies and consultants misguide clients by stating that paid search or paid advertisements or Pay Per Click (PPC) will boost organic traffic to their sites. This a big lie. What, actually, happens is that the websites do get traffic from paid search but, that traffic should not be considered as organic traffic. In other words, that traffic isn't coming to the site because of SEO but because of searchers click on paid advertisements. Once the paid advertisements are stopped, the traffic would drop. Hence, any SEO service provider who solely employs paid search technique to boost organic traffic has no idea about SEO and they must be considered as fake and be avoided.
Drop in rankings. Should you find a continuous drop in rankings over a quarter and if the SEO agency or consultant cannot satisfactorily provide answers then it's a red flag and you must stop their SEO consultation, immediately. This is a clear indication that they lack experience in optimizing for search engines and hence they are fake. Not growing or steady position of rankings is acceptable for a couple of months at maximum(depending on various factors) but, continuous drop in rankings over a quarter is definitely not a good sign of genuine SEO services.
Drop in traffic. Drop in traffic for a website could be attributed to genuine reasons. For instance, the business could be closed for some duration (as in present pandemic situation attributing to Covid19) or the business may offer seasonal services or it may be result of aftermath of festival season like new year eve etc.... But, if there are no such genuine reasons and the traffic keeps decreasing over a period (one to two months should good enough to consider) and the service provider has no clear explanation to offer then it may be noted that they lack skill in handling optimization and they should be considered as fake service providers.
Links to other sites. A website may point to other contextually related sites for various genuine reasons. But, be wary of any links that are pointing from your website to other websites that you are not aware of and those that should not be pointing to such unrelated sites. If you find such links then the SEO service provider is indulging in some shoddy practices and must be considered as fake. Such tactics may negatively impact your website.
Fake review services. One obvious point to spot a fake SEO agency or SEO consultant is that they offer shoddy services like fake reviews, unnatural backlink farming, private blogging network (PBN) etc... Be wary of such service providers and avoid them as such kind of practices are against Google guidelines and employing such tactics to gain organic traffic may negatively impact your website.
Fake SEO service providers employ all such tactics to attract businesses in a clandestine way but, as they do not posses either proper knowledge or experience in SEO they are bound to fail and must be avoided. The onus lies on clients, too, to be wary of such fake SEO agencies and SEO consultants by having at least some basic knowledge in the subject so you can at the least spot a fake one. If you do not have even basic knowledge, as a first alternative, you must rely on references to employ good SEOs. If you cannot not find SEO references through your circle then you must leverage platforms like Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc... to explore the profiles of good SEO service providers and thus avoid falling trap to fake SEOs.
LABELS: Blog-Fake, Blog-Agency, Blog-Freelancer, Blog-Consultant, Blog-SEO
Note: Prefix "Blog-" to lables to narrow search results.