Bad Services to Avoid When Hiring an SEO Agency

It's becoming increasingly complex and overwhelming for smaller businesses, which don't have large marketing teams to navigate through the advancements of algorithms, search engines, and AI technology.
That's why many companies prefer to hire an SEO agency to help them with their marketing and SEO strategies. Ultimately, the goal is to rank high on search engines and gain positive, consistent visibility so that their company can grow.
Many companies don't know much about SEO and can be taken advantage of by dishonorable or inexperienced agencies. Some SEO agencies still offer bad services and implement unscrupulous techniques to achieve a company’s SEO goals, leading to penalties and other ranking issues.
Handing over your website to someone is a delicate process; you want it to grow and not falter. Therefore, before hiring an SEO agency, go through the list we've curated so that you can select the best agency for your company's requirements.

8 Big Mistakes and Bad Services To Avoid While Hiring An SEO Agency

1. Agencies that Buy and Sell Links

Backlinks are an essential factor in getting your website ranked on a search engine, which is why it is always a key component in any SEO plan.
If an agency suggests buying backlinks from unreputable sources - this is a red flag. Their strategy should include a link-building service that can create a backlink profile of reputed and quality links that add value to your content.
Failing to create an authentic backlink profile and buying links instead at an increasing rate is against Google's policies. It can trigger a warning and lead to a Google penalty. It will result in a major drop in rank. Additionally, it's a steep hill to climb up the ranks once you receive a penalty for backlinks.

2. Agencies That Use Directory Submissions

Submitting your website to a directory used to be a common practice before search engines existed, and it was a way people navigated the web. However, this is an old-fashioned service, and unless done right, it's not a practice that should be a key player in any SEO strategy.
Suppose an SEO agency relies on directory submissions.
In that case, chances are they aren't as up-to-date with current SEO trends that favor writing engaging content, creating relevant visuals, and striving to offer users targeted, informative, and quality content.
Some SEO agencies do consider Directory Submissions as a black hat method used to work in the past; however, they no longer do. So, if the term is mentioned during your meeting, it should be noted as a red flag.

3. Agencies That Offer ‘SEO Copywriting’

SEO copywriting is a practice where agencies hire content writers to write specific copy made for search engines and include keyword stuffing techniques. However, gone are the days where nonsensical keyword text and disingenuous content ranks on search engines.
The advancement of algorithms and the creation of Google's policies have seen a drastic shift towards curating organic and quality content.

Related : Top Tools to Create Great Content for SEO

A good SEO agency won't offer SEO copywriting. Instead, they will offer high-quality, consistent content ideas that are relevant to your company, keeping in mind:

  • User search intent,
  • Your niche

They will also consider other specific factors that will help your website rank better.

4. Agencies That Depends on Private Blog Networks

Run in the other direction if you see PBN or private blog network mentioned as part of an SEO strategy.
PBN is considered an illegal way of building links to help a website rank on a search engine. These links don't provide any valuable content for their audience, and the sites are typically owned by the same person who uses them for link building for multiple websites.
Google's algorithms have been heavily clamping down on these practices and have issued penalties to websites that use them.

5. Agencies That Promise Fast-Results

SEO strategies take months or even years to show results; they don't happen overnight or in a matter of days. Any agency that makes such fake claims should be questioned about its methods to achieve these results.
Typically, an agency that says they can get your website to a top rank in a short period will be implementing some sort of black hat method. It will not be sustainable for the long term, doesn't build trust with search engines or users, and can be penalized.
Therefore, be very wary of any SEO agencies that make these drastic promises.

6. Agencies That Offer Fixed Price Rates

Not all company or website requirements are the same; therefore, having a 'one-size-fits-all' price rate can be something to reconsider when shopping around for an agency.
A good SEO agency will research your company and suggest goals, strategies, analyze your website and its target audience. Then, they will create a price rate according to your specific requirements.
So, if an agency tries to sell you on one of their comprehensive packages before they do a thorough profile on your company, you should reconsider hiring them.

7. Agencies That Don’t Have References

Don't be shy when it comes to asking the hard questions before hiring an SEO agency. Ask them to give you a list of clients you can talk to before you decide on hiring them.
Any SEO agency with a clear conscience and good work ethic will have no problem giving you a list of reputed references and clients that you can talk to for a reference.
Doing a little due diligence on your part will provide you with confidence in the company's abilities and skills. It's not just about getting results; SEO agencies are with you every step of the way, so their reputation and principles greatly impact your two companies' working experience.
If they are reluctant to give you references, take it as a red flag and reconsider hiring them.

8. Agencies with No experience

You get what you pay for, and what you're paying for is experience. If you have a low budget, it's advisable to search for agencies that have at least two years of experience.

Related : Warning Signs to Spot a Bad SEO Company

New agencies are popping up every minute, many of whom have excellent entrepreneurs at the helm. Still, it's important to go with an agency with some experience and isn't using your company as a baseline to iron out kinks to their business.
You want an agency that has the skills, abilities, and expertise to handle your website requirements. Ask them for a list of the work experience and give their company profile a thorough check before hiring.

FAQs - Bad SEO Practices

Let's look at some bad SEO practices that should be avoided if they appear in an agency's SEO strategy/plan.

Q1: What Are the Most Common SEO Mistakes?

SEO mistakes can cause an immediate drop in website rank, visibility and even cause you to get a penalty from Google. So, it's a good idea always to create quality content and utilize the best SEO practices.
That said, we've named a few common SEO mistakes below:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Slow site speed
  • Bad reviews on Google
  • Duplicate Content
  • Selecting Wrong keywords
  • Gaining too many backlinks that have no value
  • Creating content not related to your keyword or brand identity
  • Ignoring meta titles and meta descriptions
  • Broken internal links
  • Not optimizing your website for mobile devices
  • Not integrating social media with your SEO plan

Those are just some of the most common SEO mistakes. If you feel like your website is suffering due to one or more of the factors mentioned above, consider hiring an SEO agency or doing an SEO audit of your website.

Q2: What Are the Common On-Page SEO Mistakes in 2021?

There have been tremendous advancements regarding AI technology, algorithms, and search engines that on-page SEO mistakes are becoming increasingly difficult to predict.
However, the one key point with all these advancements is this: content that is organic, authentic, valuable, and relatable to a user's search intent will rank high.
Google wants to offer its users the best results to their search, so it will undoubtedly rank high if your content does that. Therefore, one of the biggest mistakes you can make with on-page SEO in 2021 is not creating authentic content.

Related : On-Page SEO Checklists Every Team Should Keep Handy

Ready to Hire an SEO Agency?

The best way to sift through and select an SEO agency is to eliminate them based on the factors we listed in this article. However, do keep in mind that these factors are just guidelines, and sometimes the best determining factor could be a positive gut feeling.
We wish you luck on finding the perfect SEO agency that is a fit for your company and even more luck for getting your website to rank at number one!
Got a bad experience with an SEO agency you'd like to share? Please drop us a comment!

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