I felt compelled to write this article based on an experience I recently had with a potential client.  A few weeks ago I met the client at a party. When the conversation turned to what we each did for a living, he and I started talking about his current marketing/advertising situation.  I wish I could tell you who the client is, but I want to be fair to them, and keep things confidential.  The client is one of the biggest businesses in Houston, TX in their respective industry, a consumer industry.  Unfortunately, the client wasn’t getting the ROI he expected from the dollars spent on his online marketing efforts.  When asked, he was spending $1500.00 per week for a Search Engine Marketing consultant.  The next day I took a look at his web presence, I was not impressed.  He had technical issues with SEO, and content issues as well.  This article is a cautionary tale about what not to do when hiring an SEO consultant.  This is the reason I am giving you our “5 Things to Look Out for When Hiring an SEO Company”.

1) Quick Fast Results Guaranteed!

SEO isn’t only a science, it’s also an art. This means any firm promising you results in a week or a month is one to be avoided. The sneaky way to get fast results is to employ “black hat” techniques. While these shortcuts might seem like a quick pay off, they’re a sure way to get your business on Google’s bad side. Google doesn’t change their algorithms constantly to be difficult, but to make sure that they are giving their users the absolute best/relevant search results possible.  SEO takes time, and it’s an ongoing promise. As the results continue to improve, the right firm will continue to keep yielding positive results month over month, year over year.

2) Make sure it is about marketing, not IT.

SEO is 20% technical and 80% proper marketing practices.  Any firm that doesn’t take an interest in your business goals, your branding, or doesn’t get to know your business, is definitely a company to stay away from.  Avoid companies that say that SEO is too technical to explain.

3) Be careful if a company won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.

Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO firm creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or “throwaway” domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google’s index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it’s best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to “help” you. If an SEO has FTP access to your server, they should be willing to explain all the changes they are making to your site.

4) Make sure that they have writing skills.

Content, content, content, let me say it one more time “content”.  Google likes good original content when looking at your site. It adds to relevancy when people are looking for you.  A good firm will write content that is relevant, engaging, and will help with your SEO.  Ask for samples of content from other clients that they have helped, and see if it is up to par.

5) Have the ability to exit the contract fairly.

When your contract expires or if you terminate it early, you should still maintain ownership of all of the optimized web content you paid the consultant to provide, Fox says.  Accordingly, you’ll want to make sure the contract states that when you part ways, consultants will not change or remove any of the content they added, modified or optimized on your behalf. You also should ask consultants whether they charge any fees for early contract termination, and if so, to specify them in the contract.