Have you ever been ripped off? It’s a pretty horrible feeling, isn’t it? I’ve been ripped off a few times in my life, but there is one experience that truly stands out.
The first time I visited New York City, I went with a friend to Madison Square Gardens to buy Rangers tickets. The game was sold out, so we ended up buying two tickets for $200 from a scalper outside the building.
I was feeling pretty good about my purchase.
Moments later, I entered the hallowed halls of MSG with great anticipation. As I walked towards the ticket taker, I could faintly catch a glimpse of the stands – and I was excited. Then it happened. I handed over the ticket, and I heard a sound that will never be forgotten. A loud, awkward screech aggressively poured out of the ticket scanning device, and my heart sunk. I knew what was coming before the MSG employee opened their mouth…
“I’m sorry sir, these are counterfeit tickets and I have to confiscate them.”
I was furious. My friend and I searched for the person who sold us the tickets to no avail. In hindsight, I should’ve known better. The scalper was the definition of sketchy. Lesson learned. The “ticket incident” happened over five years ago, but I’m reminded of the perils of an un-informed purchase every single day.
I have worked in digital solutions sales for the better part of three years, and I spent my time speaking with business owners who are looking to get found online. It’s a reasonable goal, but a huge percentage of people I speak with buy SEO services from the “scalpers” of internet marketing – and the results aren’t pretty. These un-reputable SEO companies practice black hat SEO – or in some cases they do nothing at all (which ironically is better than black hat).
The theme of un-reputable SEO companies is becoming more and more prevalent, and I feel it’s time to shed light on the red flags. Do you know if your SEO company is legit? This should help…
Here are the Top 5 indicators that an SEO company is trying to rip you off…
5.) The SEO company uses Facebook “Likes” as a selling feature:
I always laugh at companies that use Facebook “Likes” as a selling feature. Why? Two reasons…
Firstly, most of these companies buy their Facebook Likes. How do I know this? Well, that plays into the second reason. Many of these companies aren’t active on Facebook. They will promote the fact that they have ten thousand followers – but they’ve only posted 2 news stories in 4 months.
If their Facebook fans are legit, they certainly aren’t being engaged – and they aren’t receiving any value.
The most ironic aspect of this seedy business behavior is that the company will also claim to be “social media experts.” Really? Buying a plane doesn’t make you a pilot.
Legitimate SEO companies will be active on social media, and they will share information to dispel myths about the industry. They will also take a personal approach. Why? Because social media provides an opportunity to remove the corporate cloak and scale conversations with the world at large. Being personal instills confidence and trust.
4.) The SEO company doesn’t have examples of their work:
I’m not going to name names, but we’ve all heard something like this before…
“We’ve helped thousands of companies just like you! Do you want to be at the top of Google today? Sign up below for your full money back guarantee!”
If the SEO company won’t provide tangible examples of their work, you should run away very, very fast. If they really had thousands of clients, wouldn’t they have hundreds of positive examples?
Good companies will be proud to show off their work. Internet marketing has become very competitive in recent years, and success stories are like trophies.
3.) You don’t know who is behind the SEO company:
There are “SEO companies” on the internet that charge a monthly fee ranging from $50-200 to do absolutely nothing. The best way to identify these un-reputable companies is to do a background check.
Who owns the company? Who works at the company? Have you seen a picture or video of the office? Since it’s an internet marketing company, you should be able to find information about the company, and its employees, online.
2.) The SEO company doesn’t have a blog:
On the most fundamental level, Google’s success is based on one simple premise – providing the most relevant results to the user. So how could you possibly rank for keywords that you don’t talk about on your website?
This is why people say content is king. You need to provide value to the online community who are interested in what you do. Content is good for the user, and it’s good for search purposes. Internet marketing companies should drink their own Kool-Aid.
“Do as I say, not as I do,” does not apply.
1.) The SEO company guarantees first page rankings with Google:
This is the most obvious mistake made by bad SEO companies. Regardless of the business, industry or geography – NO ONE can guarantee first page rankings.
It’s not our fault, Google told us so.
Google has explicitly indicated on their website that no one can guarantee first page rankings. Anyone who guarantees first page rankings is ignorant or lying – or perhaps both.
So there you go, make sure your SEO company is active socially, that they provide clear examples of their work, that they are transparent about their processes, they blog, and finally – that they don’t make false guarantees.