Helping clients with their social media strategies over a period of months sometimes enables me to see other aspects of their marketing that aren’t working. Sometimes a website tweak is needed–other times I find processes that aren’t working for the business. Recently a client shared the “work” they were paying an SEO company to do for them–or rather the work they weren’t doing. I was actually quite floored to hear they were paying this company $700 a month when I, not even an SEO expert, could find no evidence of them doing anything but buying Google ads.
There are, obviously, many legitimate SEO companies out there. In Halifax I recommend you chat with Michael at SEO Brunch if you need more than a DIY solution. There are also copious less-than-legitimate SEO companies around. You probably get four or five email from them every day…don’t believe me? Check your spam folder. Some of these companies legitimately up your SEO score through paid Google ads…basically bringing you more traffic and getting you up the ladder. But that’s not true SEO, that’s digital advertising.
Probably the biggest issue with these SEO companies is that they’re not doing the background work to sustain the SEO jumps once the ads are done. So sure, when they are buying ads, you are appearing at the top of searches…probably in the ad space. When the contract is over you’ll likely slowly fall back.
There are many easy things you can do to improve your SEO ranking on your own. Simply using proper keywords and putting them in the right places can do wonders for your SEO efforts. Add in some backlinking from other reputable websites and use social media to get traffic flowing and you’ll soon see your page rank improve.
Yes, this works. I did it. I learned how to use meta data and keywords properly and this website came up to page one within two weeks. Now I enjoy top ranking for my keywords locally. If your local market is very saturated with similar businesses you may need help from an SEO company, but if you’re a unique business you can do most of the work yourself!
Red Flags to Watch for
- All the keywords your SEO company is working on are your business name. SEO is about being found when people search for your product or service. If they can’t find you by searching for your business name there is something wrong with your website.
- Your ranking isn’t going up for the keywords that really matter. You want your ranking to go up for the things people are searching for before they know your business name.
- The metadata isn’t even filled out. Every page on your website has hidden data and signals that Google can read when trying to curate a search results page. If you want your website to be the answer for a search, give Google as many signals as possible by having this data filled out.
- They don’t tell your team how to add to SEO efforts in blogging, etc. Your or your team should be empowered to do the SEO work on new pages/posts added to the website.
- They don’t send regular reports or cannot explain the results of the reports in a way that makes sense to you. SEO isn’t that difficult for most small businesses, so if you can’t understand what they’re doing, they may not be the SEO company to work with.
When it’s time to hire an SEO agency
When your business gets to a certain size, with multiple locations or streams of service, it might be time to consider hiring an SEO agency as part of your marketing budget. Ask around and get referrals to good SEO companies, don’t just rely on a Google search. Here is some great advice from one of the best SEO resources out there about finding an SEO agency.
Oh…and what happened to my client? I trained them on how to do their own SEO as they upload blog posts, photos and videos and they fired the SEO agency (not a local company by the way). A couple of months later, when I checked in with them, I was told their SEO ranking actually went UP after the SEO company stopped working for them.
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