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Many companies find out too late that the firm they hired to preform Search Engine Optimization for their site has been using unethical practices. Usually, they discover this when their website is penalized, or worse, banned from a certain search engine. From the mouth of Google itself, here are the top warning signs that an SEO firm you are about to hire is no good:

  • Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.
  • No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
  • Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.
  • You should never have to link to an SEO.
  • Be sure to understand where the money goes.
  • Choose wisely.

While Google gives general guidelines in an explaination of each warning sign, knowledgable and ethical SEO’s will have their own gems to offer on the topic. From the experience of working for an experienced, reputable form like Reciprocal Consulting, I offer our own gems.

  • Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue. If you’re not expecting an e-mail from a business, or you’ve never done business with them before, chances are good that you don’t need to read it. Think about it like this: if an Internet Marketing Firm needs to send out e-mails to get business, they’re probably not good at their job. You’ll find many reputable SEO’s by searching on various engines, since chances are these firms have performed SEO for their own site.
  • No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Even Google doesn’t show up #1 for all keywords relevant to their site. If Google is subject to their own methods, certainly everyone else is. The problem is that everyone would like to be #1 and when a firm guarantees a specific position in results, you’d like to believe the. A lot of firms also offer a money-back guarantee, but don’t let this sucker you in, as they have ways of fulfilling these promises in ways that don’t help you show up for your relevant keywords. These tactics will also drive a lot of non-targeted traffic to your site, which is worse than no traffic. 
  • Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do. No Internet Marketing firm, whether SEO or other, knows secrets that the rest of us don’t. If they are reluctant to share information with their client, they probably have something to hide, like unethical practices. A Reputable SEO will provide ranking reports, analytics information, and just about anything you ask for that is related to your performance in search engines. You should always feel comfortable asking questions of your SEO.
  • You should never have to link to an SEO. This is a cheap trick black hat SEO’s may try to implement to get you a lot of useless links. Although sometimes these linking strategies will have an effect – a negative one.
  • Be sure to understand where the money goes. Any reputable SEO will be able to account for every penny you spend, and be able to show you what that money is being used for. Any firm that avoids providing their clients with a detailed breakdown of expenses is probably not spending all of the money, or spending less than they claim they are spending, on lower quality link building techniques.
  • Choose wisely. Shop around, compare prices, and get a feel for how it will be to work with various firms. You should feel comfortable with anyone who is performing SEO services for your business.

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