Search Engine optimization is often cited by entrepreneurs and marketers as one of the most reliable tactics for not only generating leads, but also boosting sales from your business website. While many marketers recognize the role of SEO, they tend to view it as a highly technical and mysterious process that should be handled solely by experts. With many marketers in small and medium-sized businesses being strapped for time, it is certainly more practical at times to outsource their SEO. A simple Google search will reveal numerous SEO firms claiming to offer “exceptional” and “fast” results for low monthly fees, or even one-time purchases. However, many “SEO experts” count on the busy schedules of their clients to make fast cash without providing sustainable SEO improvements. Even worse, some SEO companies engage in bad practices that can seriously hurt your business in the long run.

As such, it is extremely important that marketers exercise caution when hiring an SEO company to manage their online marketing campaign. But how can you spot phony SEO companies? The following are some dubious practices that can help you detect vendors who may not exactly have your best interests at heart:

Making Promises That Sound Too Good To Be True

Finding an SEO company to handle the marketing needs of your business requires a significant level of faith, especially since you will be spending a considerable amount of money in the hope of getting a lot more back from that endeavor. This is the primary reason why marketers tend to look for firms that can guarantee top rankings, an increase in targeted traffic, or better rankings in as little as 30 days. However, reputable SEO companies do not offer these kinds of promises, mostly because rankings are generally unstable, owing to various factors pertaining to the person searching, such as their location, the preferred search engine, and the use of personalized results. In fact, Google itself warns against SEO professionals making such promises. Furthermore, good SEO entails more than just rankings, like driving relevant visitors, which could take 2-3 months if done properly.

Employing “Black Hat” SEO Techniques

While there are numerous techniques that SEO practitioners can use to achieve higher rankings for your site, not all of them can be considered as “exceptional”. “Black hat” SEO arises when the practitioner bends the general rules set by search engines. These techniques are not illegal, but they can place your site at a disadvantage in the long run. These methods include: keyword stuffing, whereby the practitioner crams numerous keywords in the content of a webpage without delivering meaningful information to the reader; creating doorway pages that are stuffed with your keyword to attain high rank in search engines but redirect visitors to another website; using invisible text, or white text on a white background, to trick the search engine algorithm into ranking that page for words that are not relevant to the rest of the content on that page; and linking schemes, whereby the practitioner pays for inbound links or creates new sites for the sole purpose of linking back to the main website.

Placing Emphasis on Metadata as Opposed to On-page SEO

Metadata is useful for effective SEO as it refers to the information in the code of a webpage that notifies the search engines what the page is about. While it sounds really important for good ranking, the major search engines do not consider metadata as much anymore when determining the rank of web pages. Instead, good SEO practitioners should focus on the content that human viewers see on the page, like headers, descriptions, image captions, and strategic placement of keywords in the content. There is no SEO value in stuffing the site’s metadata with keywords, and any SEO company that is focusing on this is actually not improving your page rankings.

Targeting The Wrong Keywords

Any SEO company can come up with a long list of keywords that are relevant for your business, but not all of them might be as ideal for your SEO campaign. Many industries have multiple businesses competing for the same clients, and it may be tough competing for top spot ranking if you use common one or two-word phrases, like “pet” or “pet shop’. Instead, the SEO Company should identify long-tail phrases, which are more descriptive or specific than broad category terms. Longer strings of phrases, like “pet first aid kits” have lower search volumes compared to broad terms, but provide more targeted visitors to your website. Other considerations that you should consider when determining keywords are the Geographical location of your target market, and choice of vocabulary, depending on how technical your target audience is. For instance, a B2B site can use terms like epoxy or polyurethane for adhesives, while a B2C can use a “layman term” like glue.

SEO services by We Know SEO can get your website the proper traffic in no time, but also ensure that it offers regular maintenance to keep your traffic at optimum levels and your ranking one step ahead of your competitors.