Warning Signs to Spot a Bad SEO Company Or SEO Services

SEO has become one of the fastest-growing niches out there today. The problem is choosing the right partner for your brand.
There are several SEO companies in the market. Selecting the right one can be difficult. But getting the right SEO company is important for your business. It’s the simple difference between good rankings and a bad reputation.
Getting professional help with your SEO requirements is a great idea. SEO agencies will have experienced people, and they will use cutting edge SEO technologies to deliver results. They can give you tangible results for your brand, regardless of your niche.
We have highlighted a few signs of a bad SEO company. You need to focus on these points before choosing one.

Choosing an SEO Agency - 30 Warning Signs

1. They Have Fewer Online Reviews

It is probably the first and only warning sign that you need. Any SEO agency that doesn’t have social proof is not going to deliver the results.
Social proof is critical to the choice of your SEO provider. The lack of it shows bad performance and management. Both these are red flags when it comes to choosing them.
The first thing the agency shares with you during your call should be their customer reviews. Getting good customer feedback has become an important part of the business. If they don’t, it’s a sign that you shouldn’t do business with them.

2. They Lack Expertise

Experience is a huge part of what makes these kinds of companies tick. SEO is a dynamic ecosystem that constantly changes.
A company that has been in the business knows how to react to certain issues and scenarios. They can draw from their experience with their clients. It will give them a good chance to succeed regardless of the situation.
On the other hand, newer agencies might struggle with results. They will struggle more if you have a complex domain. Also, if they are new and claiming to have huge results, it might not be true.
New companies can deliver, but the majority of them tend to be problematic.

3. They Use Outdated Techniques

As we said before, SEO is a dynamic entity. What worked a few months ago might not work today. There are chances that they might be using outdated SEO techniques. It isn’t good for your business. That is why you need updated expertise in these areas.
People who are well-versed with SEO use only the latest techniques. That is why you should ask your SEO partner about what they are planning. If all they are going to do is update your title and metadata, you shouldn’t consider them for a partnership.

4. They Ask for Your Credentials And Data

It is another sign that the SEO company you are looking into is not great. Most agencies today don’t ask you for sensitive data.
The basic requirements would be your Google Analytics and history of SEO work done. These enable your agency to get a much better idea about what they need to do for you.
The problem is when SEO agencies want admin access to your accounts, emails, and passwords. It is a sure sign that they are going to use unethical methods to deliver results.

5. You Can’t Understand Their Process

An SEO company should be able to describe to their clients what they’re planning to do. It should have no jargon and be simple enough to understand.
The best in the business can communicate their intentions with their clients. They can give them valuable insights into their process.
An inferior SEO agency is not clear about what they are delivering. They tend to hide behind complicated terms and technology.
SEO might be complex when it comes to processes and metrics, but the goals and methods are not.

6. They Won’t Tell You What They’re Doing

As your SEO partner, there are certain expectations they have to fulfill.
One of the basic things is transparency.
An agency should be transparent about their engagements with their clients. As a paying customer, it is more of a requirement than an option.
Inept SEO agencies tend to be a bit secretive about process and data. Sometimes, they even withhold important information despite your requests. Such companies are troublesome and do not deliver results.
In SEO, there is no reason to keep information away from clients. Any company that does so does not deserve your money.

7. They Will Promise Immediate Results

To be honest, exceptional results are not easy to come by these days.
There is a lot of effort involved in a successful campaign. And even then, if you’re unlucky, you won’t have anything to show for it. It is the side effect of a competitive marketplace and smarter search algorithms.
Most good companies tell you this upfront. They don’t want you to harbor dreams.
The mediocre companies, however, will try to sell you the “immediate” result. There are no realistic scenarios where this is possible.
Simply put, they are trying to market you into their company. It is bad business practice and can have negative results.

8. They Will Ask For Long-Term Contracts

Another warning sign of a company that is not great is how they deal with contracts.
As a client, you should have a choice of contract. But the process of SEO cannot deliver results in short periods.
Most top firms have a three month minimum on their contract. But they also tell you what you can expect in such a short period.
Some brands force their clients into a long-term contract. It might last anywhere from 9 months to 2 years. It is a sure sign they are trying to take advantage of you.

9. They Have Too Many Clients

Having too few clients can mean a lack of performance. Also, having too many is a bad SEO practice as well.
Top companies have limited spots on their client list. It ensures they can deliver quality SEO services for all of them.
Most clients will not divulge their list of current clients. But it never hurts to ask them.
A company having too many clients will lack in quality. If they tell you about their huge number of clients, it might be a problem. They will not be able to focus on all clients.

10. They Use Mass Submission Methods

The SEO landscape is always evolving, and methods are constantly improving. It happens because the competition is at an all-time high. And every brand needs the smallest advantage they can get.
Top digital marketing companies have completely phased out older methods. They do this because these can be detrimental to client performance.
Submitting directory listings and articles en masse are under the list of things never to do. So if the company you are interviewing is talking about this, it’s a good sign they are not the right fit.

11. They Only Focus On Rankings

When SEO first started, rankings were the only thing that mattered. The reason is that agencies did not have a great understanding of the subject. But views toward effective SEO have changed.
The focus now is to deliver meaningful content to the client. But older agencies still cling to the “ranking is key” methodology.
The ranking does matter, but it should come as a result of optimizing for people. Do not focus only on search engine results, because methods that focus on people tend to last. At the same time, those that only work on rankings lose their value.

12. Not Discussing Outsourcing Or Subcontracting

Clients will have expectations about the usage of their data. An important factor to consider here would be outsourcing. Ideally, there should be zero outsourcing for clients.
Experienced companies have specialists or multifunctional teams. It means there is no need to subcontract. But in the event of that happening, agencies should let the client know about this.
When choosing a company, make sure to discuss this issue beforehand.
Most companies do not keep your data secure when they outsource it to third-parties.

13. Not Having Tailored Packages

Every company and niche has different requirements and goals for their SEO process. Something that you look for when you want to engage the top agencies is customized plans.
You want them to fit your needs around their process and not the other way around.
Most of the SEO agencies offer only limited packages when it comes to client engagements.
Companies like this are not receptive to the needs of the market. As a potential client, you should avoid agencies that do not offer you a custom plan.

14. Focusing Only On Search Engines

Again, this is one of those characteristics of a low-quality SEO process. While it is important to rank high, the focus shouldn’t be on that entirely.
A digital marketing agency’s aim should be to create content and design for the user. The time for getting results on search engines is history.
Unfortunately, some companies still focus only on search engine rankings.
User value and critical metrics get left behind. It will be evident when you look at a company’s past SEO campaigns.
Bad content marketing like keyword stuffing and over-optimization is a warning sign.

15. Not Focusing On Other Aspects

Something that a lot of SEO companies get wrong is their approach to SEO.
SEO is not a singular path to success. It is simply combining several elements on hand to achieve a customer-centric experience. It is one reason why SEO keeps changing.
The more elements you add to marketing, the more it progresses.
The problem is, some SEO companies still do not focus on other aspects. And of these, there are several.
User experience and usability are important factors. You need to consider the design as pivotal for brand awareness.
Just content creation isn’t enough. The agency must promote it. They need to do all of this during the SEO process and not just optimizing metadata.

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16. Building Too Many Inbound Links

Inbound links are an asset to any website.
High-value inbound links have a huge positive impact on the SEO profile. And this is true even today.
Several top websites have powerful inbound links to their website. But there are certain considerations to inbound linking. The link needs to be relevant, and there shouldn’t be too many.
If a proposal from your SEO agency has about a hundred low-value links, then you need to look elsewhere.
Link building, and especially inbound linking, is a sensitive metric. They must do it right, or it will have negative effects on SEO and brand image.

17. Creating a Large Number Of Pages

Back in the day, it was normal to have more than ten landing pages for different targets. In the past, it was producing results, but now it doesn’t work so well.
Updated search engine algorithms mean that these are considered duplicates and marked down. The solution would be to create one complete landing page catering to all keywords.
Outdated SEO companies persist with creating many pages for results. It will not work to your benefit. If you see “creating X pages” as part of the goals, it is wise to step away from the table.

18. Giving Unrealistic Promises

Agencies promising too much and delivering too little are as old as SEO itself. And this is an area you need to be wary of, even with good companies.
The truth is that huge positive results are getting harder to come by. It is due to significant market pressure and the quality of other brands’ SEO processes.
It helps to do some research online, comparing numbers with other brands in the same niche. You need to have a few benchmarks in place before you negotiate.
Connecting with marketers on social media can help a lot.

19. Their Prices Seem Too Low

SEO companies price their services at differing levels.
Companies charge high amounts sometimes. While that is a problem too, low rates are indicative of an even worse issue. These companies try to amass a lot of clients and then do not deliver.
If a company can offer competitive pricing, that is a good sign. But when you see something marked below 70% of market rates, there is an obvious problem.
You might need to follow up with some investigation online. The chances are that these low rate SEO agencies are not trustworthy.

20. They Understand The Algorithm

When you’re looking for a partner, chances are you will see a lot of brands saying they “know” search engines. It is not just limited to smaller companies, but larger ones as well.
SEO is all about optimizing everything related to your brand and website. But nobody knows search engines inside out.
Any agency that says they can reverse engineer a search algorithm is not being honest. The only thing they can do is to make sure all client assets are SEO compliant.
Ideally, it will bring good results, but it will take time.

21. No Custom Reporting Schedule

An SEO agency needs to have a strong reporting culture. It means that reports need to be as detailed as possible. And also, they have to offer clients the option of customizing their reports. They can customize it based on the content or date.
Several companies skimp on proper reporting to their clients. They have a fixed one-size-fits-all pattern for clients.
Agencies should not be needlessly adamant on schedules.
When it comes to regular reporting, an agency sends out reports at least twice a month normally. But for uncertain periods or during bad phases, it can even be once in 2 months.

22. Using Cheap Web Design Gimmicks

High-quality SEO agencies always use web design as a tool to improve SEO. They do not substitute design in place of it.
Covering up a low-quality SEO by only focusing on design is bound to reflect badly on your results. Having high load times and a graphically heavy website is a huge negative for SEO.
Search engines have sophisticated algorithms, and there is no place to hide for poor SEO. Even today, some companies follow this practice. It can never yield good results for all parties involved.

23. No Short-Term Goals

When you are selecting a company as a partner, always discuss the short-term objectives. If they don’t have them in place, then this might be a problem.
Any SEO company has short-term goals to make sure they’re on the right track.
Focusing only on long-term goals will result in a lack of proper progress.
When a client has a difficult niche, smaller goals ensure that the campaign is on point. These shorter goals need to be discussed and agreed upon, so everyone is on the same page.

24. No Point-of-Contact

Communication is a key part of any process and more so with SEO. The best agencies usually have a standard program or engagement manager for a client.
The client only reaches out to other people in the agency in their absence. It lays the foundation for a good client-agency relationship.
A few other smaller companies have problems with this. They might be using multifunctional teams or have attrition. It means a client has to speak to someone new periodically. It is unnerving and does not offer advantages in the long run.

25. Guaranteeing #1 Spot

It is probably the first thing digital agencies who are out of touch with current trends claim. There is no shortcut or hack to get into the first page of search results.
In reality, the first page or ranking is a byproduct of good SEO. But it is far from a guarantee. Also, getting on the first page isn’t what companies should be promising you.
There are several parts of a website that needs optimization. Some of them are design, content, backlinks, and promotion.
First, you need to sort out these aspects.
The Google algorithm is changing every day. Even the company doesn’t know what the results will be.

26. Reports Do Not Focus On Your Metrics

Another way companies short sell their clients is through inadequate reporting.
Reports must reflect the state of the engagement. But the most important part is that it needs to have metrics that are critical to your business.
Most mediocre companies make a report out of only the good numbers in the engagement. It is just a bad SEO practice.
You will find that as the engagement moves on, progress will be in the wrong direction. A good company tells your story and not theirs.

27. Position Themselves As A Vendor Not A Partner

It is an error which several companies commit. There are two ways of engaging clients - vendor and partner.
Of these, a vendor delivers a service, and that’s about it. They are not very receptive to feedback or changes. It is a completely transactional relationship.
In contrast, a partner has several desirable attributes in a working association. They have shared interests and goals with the client.
Process iterations are taken care of, and the reporting will be very clear. These companies are team players and the ones you should hire.

28. Case Studies Are Too Old

Every SEO agency wants to impress its probable clients. But citing case studies from years ago is not the way to do it. Because SEO is changing every day, methods used in those case studies may not be relevant.
Look for clients who have up-to-date case studies on their page. Not just for the data, but it also means that the client is relevant and in business.
The only time you can consider older case studies is when they’ve worked for a big name brand. But if that’s all they have to show, you’re better served to move on.

29. Unfavourable Contract Conditions

Another giveaway of bad SEO agencies is their cancellation requirements.

Related : Reasons Why You Should Avoid Cheap SEO Services

Watch out for unfavorable conditions on their contract. It can range from paying for the whole campaign or even a penalty if you’re leaving.
Always opt for agencies that have a reasonable client cancellation policy. It means they care about relationships and their customers. It also shows that they are confident of holding on to their clients through performance.

30. They Don't Stay Updated

As we’ve repeatedly stated, SEO is a rapidly transforming industry today. Things do not remain the same day to day for digital marketing.
Search engines these days are powered by AI and machine learning. It means that there is no surefire way to predict the results.
That is why you need an SEO agency with the right set of people. A professional company like Haitna can help you get the most out of your SEO services.
With decades of experience between them, the team at Haitna can tackle any problem you have. Delivering great results for any brand is their specialty.
Are you on the lookout for a high-quality SEO agency?
Get a free consultation for your business with the experts at Haitna through email or phone.
You can expect amazing results at affordable pricing.

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Joseph Schneider

He has spent more than 12 Years in strategising and executing SEO campaigns. He is interested to writing Digital-marketing, PPC and Social Media Marketing related topics.