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10 Bad SEO Tactics of Big SEO Companies

10 Bad SEO Tactics of Big SEO Companies
27 Jul 2013

Over the years I have heard about some crazy SEO tactics that are more likely to hurt you than help you.  This article will dis-spell some myths and help you to spot SEO companies you should avoid.

SEO Company Limits the Number of Keywords You Can Target

There is no reason to limit the number of keywords that you can target in the search engines.  You should strive to rank highly for as many relevant keyword phrases as possible.  That isn’t to say that you should target them all on one page and SEO rankings are never guaranteed, but I have heard about some SEO companies limiting you to 4 or 6 keyword phrases.  This is crazy!  I believe they pick a small number of keyword phrases which they can rank highly for.  Once they achieve their rankings, they know they can sit back and show a report each month with the high rankings.  Maintaining a few high rankings is not good enough!  The best measure of the effectiveness of ongoing SEO is a continued increase in visits and conversions from non-branded natural search.

SEO Company will Not Return Your Calls

If you can’t get in touch with your SEO company, it’s a bad sign.  To me, it means that you are not a priority.  For big SEO companies, it’s just a numbers game.  They race to add customers and if a few customers drop off in the process, it doesn’t hurt their bottom line.  You’re a small fish to them.  It’s funny to me that it’s only when you tell them that you want to cancel their contract that they start to pay attention again, setting meetings and trying to show you how they have been effective for you.  I have seen SEO companies show their clients how many search visits they have received as proof of good results.  When I drilled one level deeper, I found that they were reporting on 95% branded traffic which was not the result of any natural SEO efforts.

SEO Company Wants You to Sign Long Term Contract

Long term SEO contracts should make you turn and RUN.  SEO results can NOT be guaranteed.  SEO takes time, but if you’re not seeing results after 3 months, you should be able to stop paying for a service that is not producing ROI.  I talk to companies all the time that are in one year contracts that they can’t get out of and they hate their SEO company.  No results, no returned calls, no evidence of any actual work being completed, but you can’t cancel the service.  Yikes!  Good SEO companies will go month to month giving you the ability to cancel at any time.  They know they are on the hook to provide results or their contract will be canceled.

SEO Company will NOT Let You Talk to the Actual SEO Specialist

Sales people handle the clients and the SEO people handle the actual work.  When I see this I immediately think that there isn’t much SEO work being done at all or that they are having it done off shore (outsourced).  I am not a big fan of outsourcing, but some SEO companies could argue that it is a way to make SEO affordable.  It would be OK if the outsourced SEO specialists actually knew how to do good white hat SEO and how to write original content in English.  Don’t get me wrong, some off shore SEO companies do get it right, but most of them (the inexpensive ones especially) rely mostly on spamming blogs, link exchange, etc. which will get you penalized.  If you’re doing SEO you should be able to actually talk with the SEO specialist about the tactics they are using.

SEO Company is Using SEO Tactics that are NOT White Hat!

This is bad news for any company using a vendor which employs black hat SEO techniques.  Your website will soon be penalized.  Read the SEO blogs and you will see that black hat SEO techniques do not work.  Google especially is getting very good at identifying companies that are using these techniques and they take swift action.  Avoid any SEO company that wants to build links for you by posting on forums and blogs.  Avoid companies who say they have a network of sites that will link to yours.  Building links too quickly in an unnatural way will be detected and you will be penalized.  If you have a SEO company writing content for you, check to see if that content was scraped off someone else’s website.  You can search for a sentence or two and quickly see if your content is also on lots of other sites.  You don’t want duplicate content on your site.  It will get you penalized.  Stay away from any SEO company that wants to hide content on your site.  If building original content is not a part of the SEO plan you don’t have the right SEO strategy.  As a website owner, you’re responsible for making sure your SEO company isn’t doing anything shady.  If you get penalized, ignorance is not going to get your penalty lifted.  It is very difficult to get a penalty lifted.  That topic is for another blog article…

SEO Company Emails You Out of the Blue

I see these emails ALL THE TIME.  The basic gist of the email is that “you have a great site but you don’t rank highly”.  Spammy SEO companies get your email address by scraping the internet for emails or by purchasing lists.  They then send out thousands of these emails every day. WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING AT YOUR SITE they claim that you don’t rank highly.  This preys on the fear that website owners have about their ability to have a successful website.  Only if you reply to their email do they check your site.  If I were to check just about any website, I am sure I could find one or two keyword phrases which are relevant which the website doesn’t rank highly for.  No website ranks highly for EVERY SINGLE keyword phrase which they would ever want to target.  Spammy SEO companies rely on this tactic to get their foot in the door.  What you will end up getting is “set it and forget it SEO”.  You will be a small fish in a big pond.  Companies like this are more interested in quickly building naive clients.  Most of them do not spend time on writing original content.

SEO Company has Proprietary (Secret) Methodology and Techniques They Won’t Share

If they can’t explain what they are doing for you, it is probably black hat SEO that will get you penalized.  There is no secret sauce.

SEO Company ONLY uses their Proprietary Analytics Reports

This is shady too…  I do not trust results that are reported using analytic systems which are controlled by the SEO company.  Who knows how they are counting things and if they are padding their numbers.  You should require your SEO company to use Google Analytics to report to you how much non-branded natural search visits and conversions you’re receiving.  If you’re not getting reports at all, that is even worse.  We provide our clients with monthly reports which explain the tactics we used, what results were achieved specific to each tactic, and our recommendations moving forward.

SEO Company has High Pressure Tactics and Threaten You

Sounds crazy, right?  I know one big company which does SEO/SEM that does threaten it’s customers if they decide to leave saying you will be sorry if you don’t change your minds and what a huge mistake you’re making.  This reeks of desperation.  If your results are poor and a client wants to leave, don’t threaten them!  You know who you are 😉

SEO Company Undercharges or Overcharges for SEO Services

If a SEO company wants to charge you $200 per month to do their natural SEO, how much time could they actually be spending?  Are they just outsourcing (see #4 above)?  To do natural SEO right, analysis needs to be done on a regular basis and original content must be continually developed.  This is not possible within just a few hours every month.  Conversely, there are SEO Companies that way overcharge.  I have heard some big $$ numbers for monthly SEO.  If you are a big company with a big site, you may need to pay a fair amount for SEO.  Just make sure you know what is actually being done each month and that the tactics are all white hat.

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