7 Signs Your SEO Company is Shady

Make no mistake. There are plenty of good, even great, SEO companies out there that use proven techniques to get results for their clients. But far too often our industry is given a black eye by shady SEO companies ripping clients off for thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it.

Whether you’re just now looking for an SEO company or you’ve been with one for a while, you need to be on the lookout for these 7 signs of a sketchy SEO provider.

1. They promise specific rankings—Your SEO company doesn’t run Google. So, no matter what they say, there’s no way they can guarantee your website will reach a certain position in the search results. If your SEO company is making this promise, run away as fast as you can. They’re liars.

2. They can’t show you proof of their past work—You want to make sure the SEO company you hire has actually gotten results for their clients in the past. The best SEO companies have detailed case studies showing where the client’s website was before they started working on it and where it is now. If your SEO company can’t show you proof of their work, I recommend taking your business elsewhere.

3. The price doesn’t seem right—There are shady SEO companies on both ends of the price range. On one hand, you have the guys who promise to optimize your website for just a few bucks. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Then, on the flip side of things, you have the companies who charge tens of thousands of dollars for their SEO services.

4. They promise hundreds of back links—Sure, it’s nice to have an SEO company who can handle all your link building needs, but whenever you come across one that promises hundreds or even thousands of links, you can bet these are low quality and even spammy links. In the end, this can hurt your website more than it helps.

5. They don’t provide any insight into the process—Always choose an SEO company who speaks to you in plain language and lets you be involved in the process. Too many shady SEO companies leave clients in the dark, don’t answer their questions, and when they do decide to talk, use industry jargon to speak over your head.

6. They sent you an unsolicited email offer—Not a day goes by that I don’t get a message in my Spam folder from an SEO company who claims they can help my website rank #1 in Google. These unsolicited emails violate the CAN-SPAM Act, and they’re sent by bots to thousands of other webmasters. Believe me, if the SEO company was really that good, they wouldn’t have to resort to this spammy tactic to get customers.

7. Their website sucks—I can’t help but shake my head when I come across an SEO company’s website that is poorly designed and incorrectly optimized. If they can’t even build a great website for their own company, they won’t be able to make one for you.

Have you ever dealt with a shady SEO company? What were some of the warning signs you noticed? Share your experiences by leaving a comm

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  • Very helpful post, particularly for beginners looking to start working with an SEO company.

    I can imagine that some people actually think that this information is common sense, but when you think that a lot of people actually have no idea of SEO, you realise that the information is only common sense to those people in the SEO (or a related) industry.

  • I absolutely LOVE these 7 signs! I just came across an SEO site yesterday that claimed to have a $395 SEO Special that was valued at $2500 and GUARANTEED 4 keywords on the first page of Google. I was seriously tempted to spend the money and give them SEO, SEO Company, SEO TIPS and Search Engine Optimization as my keywords..

    Keep up the great posts!

  • great points
    people that don't really have much knowledge about SEO but would like to promote their sites this way and likely to engage with SEO companies should really take note of this, since they'll be spending thousands and one mistake their money would certainly go to waste

  • You listed quite good points there. No one knows what rank your website will be on and so SEO company can’t really promise anything but only do what they can to help you improve your rankings.

  • I agree with most of what you say however, I own an SEO company and we do offer may first page placements on Google (next to the map). Google Map Optimization is a lot different. First we build a business profile for you and link your website to it. There for it is these business profiles that we are actually optimizing, not your website. Our guarantee is not only that they will have multiple first page placements on Google withing 30 days but also warrants that they will stay there 24/7.

    No, we don’t run Google but we work very closely with them and have been doing this for years with great luck. We take the responsibility on our own shoulders by offering a money back guarantee and we have not had an unhappy clients ask for their money back in over a year. I would love to tell you the name of my business so you can see for yourself but I don’t want this to seem like an advertisement and even if you excepted links I don’t think I would want my company name associated with any tags such as “bad seo company” out of fear that it could be misunderstood.

    My point is, although there are very few that can do what I do, and take all the risk on ones own shoulders, we are out there. I know it is normally Tabu to offer Guarantees in the organic SEO world but we are a company out of Henderson, NV that does offer a warranty with Google Maps and it has worked out for us very well for us and our customers.

  • It also depends on which search engines are included in top 10 offers and what type of keywords are assured…..

    I have seen that sometimes long tail keywords are easy to have in top 10 and they also provide target traffic for site as compared to generic search terms

    If any company can’t show you proof of their past work, and they even do not have any rankings of own websites, simply its no use to hire them