As marketing practices continue to become digitized, search engine optimization is emerging as a robust industry.
With over 360 billion annual Google searches, it’s no surprise that businesses do their best to rule the search results, and for that, they need to hire SEO experts who can help their websites rank higher.
For this reason, 61% of marketers prioritize improving SEO. But since every business owner does not have the time and resources to become an expert, companies are always searching for SEO agencies or professionals that can help.
But there is a downside to this growing interest in SEO. As the demand for SEO grows, more individuals are emerging as self-titled “experts”. And hiring such inexperienced professionals will do you more harm than good.
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How Can Inadequate SEO Practices Harm Your Business?
The whole point of improving your on-page and off-page SEO is to rank higher in search results. But if you engage in unethical SEO practices – or hire an agency that does – you risk being penalized by Google.
In that case, Google will downgrade your ranking, causing you to rank even lower than you would have otherwise. This way, you will lose your search traffic and eventually your revenue.
For instance, keywords are essential for you to rank higher on search engines. But stuffing too many keywords can lead to penalization. So, now, if you unnecessarily stuff keywords that adversely impact user experience, Google will downgrade your website. This way, all your money, and efforts will go to waste.
More than that, inadequate SEO practices also harm you in subtler ways. For example, it can cause your website to load slowly, which means 40% of users will abandon your website before they can even view what’s on it.
Similarly, buying links rather than trying to build them organically will get you penalized by Google. And you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on SEO “experts” that will only worsen your rankings.
10 Types Of SEO “Experts” That You Need To Avoid
To steer clear of harmful SEO practices, you must evaluate each SEO agency or expert you meet. Additionally, there are 10 types of SEO “experts” you need to be wary of:
The Blast From The Past
Digital technology is constantly evolving, and so are Google algorithms. This means SEO practices also need to adapt according to the changing landscape.
But if an SEO agency is still partaking in outdated practices, then it won’t benefit your business in any way. For example, many people who claim to be SEO experts are still relying entirely on keyword stuffing and meta keywords.
Although keywords are central to SEO optimization, they are just one part of the entire mechanism. If you forcefully insert too many keywords, it will only bring down the quality of your content. As a result, Google will downgrade your rankings, and all your money spent will be a waste.
So, be conscious of SEO professionals who don’t update their practices.
The Shady Ones
Please think twice before trusting this SEO specialist; they will offer you many benefits but will have nothing to back up their claims.
If an agency is unwilling to share their client lists, it’s either because they signed a confidentiality agreement or don’t have any clients worth mentioning. If they don’t share a single client name with you, it’s likely the latter.
How can you trust a company with your data and content if you don’t know what they will do with it? Also, how can you tell if the agency is reliable without looking at the experiences of its previous clientele?
It is better if you can get access to client testimonials, the agency’s portfolio, or at the very least, their company website. But if an SEO organization only talks about the “perfect” campaign yet lacks credibility, it’s better to stay away from them.
This type of “expert” screams trouble.
These individuals indulge in unethical practices to deliver good results. So, even though they can help you get higher rankings, is it worth risking your brand reputation?
When Google discovers spam activities, not only will it downgrade your website, but there’s a high chance that your competitors will take notice.
If it becomes common knowledge that you were engaging in unethical practices, it may be difficult to repair your tarnished reputation.
So, if an SEO company builds your backlinks through buying and selling links, then you might want to reconsider.
Poor Link Requester
Such SEO professionals will ask for a link from your main page, which will benefit them. In return, they will offer you a link on their affiliate site’s link page only.
Even though three-way link exchanges once used to be profitable – they don’t hold the same scope. That doesn’t mean they are irrelevant, but the quality of the link is important.
If someone is offering you a toxic link, or a link from a weak site, then you might want to think about it. Especially, if in return, they demand a quality link from you.
When you’re not well-versed in SEO yourself, it’s easy to get lost in the promises and guarantees made by SEO companies.
And often, SEO professionals will get you the rankings you want – but not in the way you want.
For example, they may get you on the first page of Google, but is it for a keyword that people are actually searching? Often, that’s not the case, and you’ll be ranking for keywords that only you or the company are likely to search.
To avoid this, read the contract carefully because agencies sometimes mention in the fine print of the contract that they’ll only get you ranking for obscure keywords.
To make the most out of your investment in an SEO agency, you must ensure that the company provides you with all you need.
Since the SEO industry is vast, agencies may specialize in one area. And that’s okay as long as they still offer a variety of other skills. For instance, off-page SEO is essential for organic ranking, but if a company completely ignores on-page SEO, that is a problem.
Be wary of people who tell you that they won’t engage in on-page SEO at all because it’s “unethical”. Remember, optimizing keywords and creating quality link baits are legitimate ways of practicing SEO, and they lead to better results.
So, if an SEO professional is unwilling to perform on-page SEO for you, chances are they don’t know how to do it.
Holier Than Thou Expert
Just because a professional knows what they are doing doesn’t mean they can act arrogantly.
Hiring an SEO expert means partnering with them for mutual success and benefits. This two-way relationship is built on trust and respect.
But if an individual acts like they are too good for you, you should re-evaluate as such partnerships are long-term.
The One Who Can’t Communicate
These experts know SEO, but they are unable to communicate effectively with clients.
As someone deciding on whether or not to hire a particular company, you should make sure you understand what is being conveyed to you. And since SEO jargon is complicated, it is the expert’s responsibility to break it down for you.
However, if you’re still unclear on what the agency will do for you, how will you judge whether they are useful?
Similarly, suppose an SEO firm refers to “SEO trade secrets” instead of answering your questions honestly. In that case, it’s possible that they either don’t know what they are doing or they plan to use unethical SEO techniques.
Conversion Expert Turned SEO
The significance of user experience is growing, which is why Google looks at load speed and site metrics to determine whether your page is answering searcher’s expectations.
But that doesn’t mean SEO is only about providing a better user experience and ultimately converting prospects into customers.
Instead of only retaining existing traffic, SEO attempts to increase your traffic, which is achieved through more than merely tweaking your design.
Thus, if an SEO expert thinks that conversion or design optimization will lead to higher rankings, it means they don’t have much experience in SEO.
Self-Proclaimed Social Media Expert
This individual tells the world that he is a social media expert just because he knows how to use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
They think they’ve been working with social media SEO for as long as they’ve had an account on the platforms. So, be aware of anyone who tells you that they will make you organically go viral in days.
Another sign to look out for is whether the “expert” views the number of accounts and followers as an indicator of success.
Even though followers are important, social media marketing is not limited to that – and neither is SEO just about that.
Scams You Should Look Out For
People and agencies who claim to be SEO experts but lack in-depth knowledge of the industry practices are harder to identify. But some indicators are a clear giveaway that the person or agency you’re talking to is a scam.
Many SEO scams guarantee a higher ranking. But since Google itself debunks guaranteed rankings, no SEO company can make such promises. So if you’ve seen an agency boasting about “guaranteed #1 ranking on Google”, they are likely lying.
Personal Google Contacts
SEO companies neither have a special relationship with Google nor access to priority submit for Google. Similarly, the Google algorithm is complex and constantly changing. So, if an agency claims a complete understanding of Google’s algorithm, they are trying to scam you.
Ownership Of Content
You should own the content you produce. But when you’re hiring an SEO expert, they will have access to your content for optimization purposes. However, that does not give them the right to own your content. If they make any such demands, you should let them go.
Search engine optimization is beneficial for brand exposure. So, if you don’t want your site to be one of the 90.63% of pages that lack Google’s organic search traffic, consider optimizing it for the search engine.
But when looking for the right SEO professionals, ensure they don’t fall short of their promises. You can do this by gradually educating yourself on SEO basics. But for starters, make sure to avoid scams and all the SEO “experts” who claim to know more than they actually do.