Client: I don’t know anything about SEO, but I know I need it. Can you help me?
Shady SEO Consultant: Sure! I’ll submit your website to all the search engines, add your site to 500 directories, and do keyword research for you-all for $200.
Client: Wow, I don’t know what any of that means, but it sounds like a great deal. When can you start?
Shady SEO Consultant: Right away. *evil grin*
Far too often we see clients who comes to us after being scammed, deceived, or flat out cheated by a bad SEO provider. Most of the time this happens for 2 reasons:
- It’s very difficult to show exact progress in many aspects of SEO, so the provider takes advantage of the client.
- SEO takes time, so lack of work may not be evident to the client until months later.
Take Time To Be Informed
However, many times a client can be held partially responsible for their demise. Lack of due diligence when selecting an SEO provider is a very big reason why so many SEOs are able to get away with poor quality work in the first place.
I know, I know, you’re busy. You don’t have time to check out every candidate to see if they’re on the up-and-up. Too bad, make time. The amount of money that could easily be thrown away on bad/irrelevant SEO services could easily be in the thousands or even tens of thousands after you combine wasted labor costs, website damage, and whatever it costs you to fix the damage.
So in an effort to save you some time, I’ve gathered some helpful infographics that can steer you in the right direction the next time you find yourself unsure of whether or not an SEO is “white-hat” and ethical.
1. SEO Lemons
While I personally think you should read all of these infographics, this one is required reading. SEO brainiac Aaron Wall spells out not only what to watch out for, but also the ways to spot an honest SEO provider. Using George Akerlof’s findings in “A Market for Lemons,” Aaron correlates how some car salesmen take advantage of prospects, to how shady SEO providers sell subpar services at premium prices.
2. 14 Ways to Spot a Bad SEO Agency
It doesn’t get much simpler than this-a list of common qualities to avoid and a separate list of what traits to flock towards in an angel/devil on your shoulder kind of format.
Followed by this list of good and bad qualities is an in depth explanation of why they’re important, and how they can relate to your business. It’s hard to know what kind of traits and practices are bad when you don’t know what ethical SEO traits and practices consist of.
3. Black Hat SEO: Killing Your Rankings
A humorous, but serious look at the world of black hat SEO. Here, seo.com compares various black hat methods to serial killers of the big screen. Hannibal, Michael Myers, and-not to be outdone, Jason (I mean Doorway Pages) round out the worst offenders. While some of these methods aren’t as common as they used to be, keyword stuffing and link spam are still very much alive.
4. Black Hat vs White Hat SEO
For those of you that have been around the block a time or two, you’ve probably heard the phrase “grey-hat” in addition to white and black hat. This term refers to methods that aren’t against the search engine’s rules per se, but instead suggest manipulative methods that are frowned upon. Think “quick and easy”.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
We’re discussed the Bad and the Ugly, so what about the Good? “How can I tell if an SEO provider is genuine?” Well, luckily there are some easily recognizable traits here as well.
- Good SEOs are usually a wealth of information. When you ask questions, good speaker or not, they don’t have much trouble explaining solutions to problems and why they’re a problem in the first place.
- Genuine SEO providers have a willingness to help you (the client) understand strategies and possible outcomes, good and bad. The more educated a client is, the easier the SEO’s job is going to be.
- They don’t mind admitting that they’re “unsure if a strategy is going to work” or not. Someone that promises this, or guarantees that, is lying. That simple. This is probably the easiest sign to spot of them all. Granted, you don’t necessarily want to hear that as an employer, but would you rather your provider lie to you?
Ignorance Is Not Bliss
I’m not saying you have to know all there is to know about SEO before you can hire someone, that’s unrealistic. What I am saying is spend some time informing yourself so that you understand the basics of what SEO consists of at the core. Taking time to arm yourself with knowledge now, may help prevent you against bad SEO providers in the future.