Dumb SEO Questions

(Entry was posted by Kate Too on this post in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, 10/08/2013).

How to tell if an SEO company is legit or dodgy?

Hey guys, it`s well trodden territory but I`m writing a post for small businesses on how to tell if their SEO company is legit or dodgy. What would you ask?
Any ideas, article links etc would be hugely appreciated. Thanks
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Answers from the Dumb SEO Questions Panelists.

  • Tim Capper: Top Warning signals Guaranteed to get you #1 on Google Panda and Penguin safe linkbuilding We will build you monthly Link wheeel Link pyramid

Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions Facebook & G+ community.

  • Neha Bawa: Zero guarantees. If anyone's promising guaranteed results in a limited time period, then they're either shady or don't know what they're talking about.
  • Kate Toon: Thank you +Neha Bawa :-)
  • Luke Chapman: Ask for a reference from a long-time customer of theirs and go speak to the customer. Anyone can get a site ranking short-term, but dodgy tactics will burn them after a while. And if you hear them touting directory listings and social bookmarking as tactics, run for the hills.
  • Jim Munro: I think you might be pushing the envelope with this one, Kate. The SEO industry will not thank you for it.

    Consider that the internet is already a septic tank full of FUD posts, mostly written by the clueless.

    I'd rather see one of your aspirational posts. You might even get more mileage and not have to pour scorn on your friends' businesses in the process.
  • Kate Toon: Hey Jim - I have no intention of pouring scorn on anyone, rather just trying to help small businesses find good people to work with.
  • Neha Bawa: +Kate Toon - Please do share your post once it's written and live. I'm looking forward to reading it :-)
  • Kate Toon: +Luke Chapman thanks very much. +Neha Bawa I'll share it on my page as you're not allowed to link drop here.
  • Janna Maica Feliciano: Ask for some background of strategies they are implementing. In case they mention some "SEO packages" like 1000+ directories, 500+ social bookmarks, 100+ article submissions, and anything but NUMBERS, then think and be suspicious. In my opinion, a company that can be trusted will talk about HOW THEY CAN HELP, not about HOW MANY TASKS/LINKS they can do. ;)
  • Kate Toon: Good advice +Janna Maica Feliciano ; there's a lot to be said for quality over quantity. One awesome powerful piece of content do more good that a gazillion spun articles.
  • Luke Chapman: We've been stung before even AFTER confirming that the SEO company is on the same page in terms of building quality links, not quantity. Yet when we looked through their first month's report?... utter crap! And hundreds of them. I would much rather 5 good links in a month than 500 crappy ones. Once all your basic SEO is covered, you should be focusing on content marketing as well, and creating things that people will WANT to link to. Makes it much easier to get quality links that way.
  • Yasser Mohamed: I found an article which might be quite useful +Kate Toon It is called "The 4 golden rules of buying SEO" by +Daniel Tolliday of Design Quotes
    I will share it to you as I can't put the link here.
  • Kate Toon: awesome +Yasser Mohamed thanks!
  • Daniel Tolliday: We're creating an in-depth guide to buying SEO... so feel free to use it as a reference +Kate Toon ;:)
  • Dave Elliott: i disagree with +Luke Chapman ;on his first post entirely. We so rarely are prepared to give out other customers details for reference. i think we have done it a grand total of once in the three years i have been here and that was for a genuinely huge contract. We wouldn't give out other customers details to potential customers, its rude.
  • Dave Elliott: I suppose i should answer the actual question......... i don't think there is a load of questions you can ask and guarantee that they aren't a spam agency. These types of "SEO professional" make a living out of conning Google and generally apply these practices to their business as well.

    For every article that says, ask x,y,z of an agency and if they say such and such they are genuine, there will be 100 dodgy agencies who have read and rehearsed that answer. So you basically have to go on things like price, location and instinct.(would you buy a 2nd hand car of that company?)

    Finding a genuinely dodgy agency is easier.

    1) if they email you and the mail is written in broken English, but, they are offering to write quality content; they are dodgy.

    2) If they make any promises that involve first page of Google or to make you  ;#1 for even competitive keywords. They are VERY dodgy.

    3) the less questions they ask about your business the dodgier they are.

    4) if they get in touch with you through your  ;enquiry form, RUN!

    5) Do they use a gmail, hotmail or other freebie email address? RUN FASTER!

    it is just annoying that if the inverse is true it doesn't necessarily mean they are legit.
  • Luke Chapman: +Dave Elliott ;It's something that many businesses do, and something that many customers do. I'm not saying you should give out customers' details without their permission. But if you have happy customers, they'd be more than willing to give you a good review to other people. Many SEOs (and other businesses) even have a page on their website listing their clients, so they can show how successful they are. It's all about building trust and transparency.
  • Dave Elliott: We do that! But its a much bigger step asking customers to allow themselves to be phoned up and giving the equivalent of a job reference!

    Its in fact even more annoying then that if they get phoned up twice a month, being asked to give references.
  • Unique Websites: I now warn all customers to be wary of any SEO company that cold calls or cold emails them. Whilst I wouldn't say every company that does so is dodgy, we've had customers caught out by "SEO sharks".
  • Tim Capper: Top Warning signals

    Guaranteed to get you #1 on Google

    Panda and Penguin safe linkbuilding

    We will build you monthly

    Link wheeel

    Link pyramid
  • Kate Toon: Hi all the article is now live, I won't link drop as it will make +Jim Munro cry, but you can go to my page to find the link. Thanks for your help. Much appreciated.
  • Jim Munro: Nothing makes me cry, Ms Toon. :-P
    If you could see some of the crap we have to cut out of here to make this a better forum, you would understand why we have to be so pedantic.

    There are 700+ people on our banned list, none of them named Toon, yet. :-)
  • Kate Toon: I hear you +Jim Munro ; I now have a few communities of my own and policing the self promoters and encouraging actual discussion ; is the hardest thing!!
  • W.E. Jonk: From the expert panel in this weeks SEO Questions hangout on air on 00:12:51 into the YouTube video: https://dumbseoquestions.com/q/how_to_tell_if_an_seo_company_is_legit_or_dodgy
  • Kate Toon: +Jim Munro having just watched the video, I want to stress again I didn't intend to bad mouth SEOs. I am an SEO !! And if you read the article you'll see that I didn't say anything negative at all. So I did get it :-)
  • Kate Toon: But I do appreciate the answers in the video guys. Thanks!
  • W.E. Jonk: +Kate Toon ;the article you are referring is ;http://www.katetooncopywriter.com.au/how-to-avoid-snake-oil-seos/ ? ;-)
  • Kate Toon: it is but you're not allowed to put links up here.

View original question in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, 10/08/2013).

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