SEO is Not Magic - 6 Red Flags to Avoid

March 12, 2023
min read

I’ve worked in the SEO space for over 15 years and it’s changed a lot in that time. Back at the start then there were some easy hacks and tactics to send almost any website to the top of Google. 

Despite things changing a long time ago, I still see a lot of SEO providers surrounding what they do in smoke and mirrors as if SEO is a mysterious magic art that needs to be kept secret. 

SEO (search engine optimisation) isn't a magic bullet. It is a collection of methods and tactics used to make a website more prominent in search engine results pages (SERPs). While SEO can be a good technique to increase traffic to your website, it is not a quick fix to improve your search engine results.

Here are a 6 red flags to look out for when outsourcing your SEO:

  1. Results that are guaranteed: Avoid SEO firms that promise certain outcomes, including a high Google ranking. Search engine results are continually changing based on a variety of criteria, therefore nobody can truly guarantee them. If you decide to proceed, ensure the keywords you use are both highly relevant to your business and have a large search volume.
  2. Promising quick outcomes: SEO is a long-term approach, so it is unlikely to produce quick, long-lasting effects. An honest SEO company will tell you up front how long it will take to see results and will collaborate with you to develop a workable strategy.
  3. No content marketing strategy: A good SEO strategy should combine onsite technical SEO, off-site SEO to boost authority by earning links and a solid content marketing strategy. When a user searches a query on a search engine, the search engine such as Google is trying to bring back the most relevant results. Having high quality content that provides genuine value to potential customers will help bring in more relevant visitors to convert via organic traffic.
  4. Keyword stuffing: In an effort to improve your ranks, certain SEO services may try to overstuff your website with irrelevant keywords. However, search engines disapprove of this strategy and may even impose fines. It's a warning sign if you're being asked to incorporate language on your website that seems to exist only for the benefit of search engines but isn't helpful or well-written for your intended audience.
  5. Link buying: In an effort to improve your rankings, certain SEO services may try to purchase links pointing to your website. However, search engines disapprove of this strategy and may impose penalties. The focus should be on earning links rather than just buying them. This can be done in a number of ways such as creating unique shareworthy or referencable assets on your website and then doing outreach to increase the chance of others linking to it. If link building is part of your SEO package then make sure you are being told which links are being created each month. Take a look at the website and content in which the links are included and ask yourself if these links look natural and relevant to your niche or if the website looks spammy. You should also check that links are not flagged as toxic by SEO tools such SEMrush or AHrefs. Too many toxic backlinks could result in your site getting penalised by Google.
  6. Lack of transparency: A trustworthy SEO company will be open and honest about the methods they employ and the status of your campaign. An agency's reluctance to divulge this information could be cause for concern.

Finally, SEO is not a magic bullet. It is a collection of methods and tactics that can raise a website's standing in search engine results. When working with an SEO service, it's crucial to be careful of companies that guarantee results, make rapid promises, concentrate on short-term benefits, or apply techniques that search engines don't like. A reputable SEO company will collaborate with you to develop a long-term success strategy that is honest and realistic in its approach.

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