The number of companies that offer search engine optimization (SEO) services has increased dramatically in the last decade. This increase has resulted in an influx of new companies that do not provide the services offered. Some have no true technical understanding of SEO. Others use questionable or marginal practices. A few blatantly lie or make threats. There are several signs that will help any business or website owner identify one of these sketchy SEO companies.
Unrealistic promises or guarantees are the most obvious sign of an SEO company to avoid. Common claims include overnight ranking increases or indexing, guaranteed first-page positioning and sustained rankings over time with no additional work. It could take weeks to increase search engine rankings. The exact amount of time required for indexing and ranking improvements depends largely on the search engine. Avoid companies that make guarantees that are too good to be true.
SEO companies that use a single approach for SEO, regardless of the business, website or target goals aren’t a good idea either. Good SEO is a gradual process that’s different for each client or website. Developing an SEO strategy will require analysis of the existing website, industry research and discussions with business owners. Companies that charge for generic or one-size solutions are not providing true SEO services and could actually hurt the rankings of a website.
An SEO company that attempts to hide the work being done on a website should be avoided. Every company has some work practices that are clearly proprietary. While it’s not necessary to know exactly what’s happening, enough information should be provided in order to discover what techniques a company is employing. An SEO company that’s not being transparent and communicating effectively is most likely using black hat SEO techniques that could scar a website for a year or more. Search engines heavily penalize websites that directly employ or benefit from black hat techniques.
The price of SEO services can indicate a sketchy company. Some of the worst companies use low prices to lure in customers with the intention of harvesting data from the target website. These companies use the login information to collect email addresses, proprietary data and other useful information. The SEO services are often never delivered or are done in a very poor and ineffective way.
Despite the fact that it is unethical and could possibly be illegal in certain jurisdictions, some bad SEO companies actually try to garner business through threats. These companies attempt to extort businesses by claiming that they will actively work against a site through SEO unless fees are paid. These threats should largely be ignored and the companies reported to local authorities.
A good SEO company will need to work closely with website owners and business clients. An SEO company might be sketchy if there is limited or no contact information available beyond an email address, online forum or web-based form. A good company will have a physical address and phone number. Any company that doesn’t provide this contact information on the main website could accept payments and then vanish. This leaves the client with no way to find the culprits or to reclaim the money spent.
Several SEO companies make claims that hundreds or thousands of links will be established in the first day of service. These companies are most likely using black hat techniques or methods that search engines dislike greatly. It is best to avoid these companies because the sudden appearance of a massive amount of links will likely make a website a target for inspection. This could result in intentional downgrading of a site because of the attempt to manipulate the system in an unethical way.