SEO Agency Red Flags To Avoid

Still No Results? 5 SEO Agency Red Flags To Avoid



You already recognized the importance of online reputation in digital marketing, so you hired an SEO company to get you at the top of search engines. If months have passed, but you still aren’t showing up in results, it’s only natural that you start to question whether you’re using the right SEO strategy.

Effective SEO strategies position your website so that you can connect with your customers and search engines. This means, other than web design skills, you need an SEO company with good copywriting and a deep understanding of your audience. And rather than giving you instant gratification, whoever is optimizing your website should be able to grasp what resonates well with your customers.

Unfortunately, because not every business has a general understanding of how search engine optimization (SEO) works, plenty of black hat SEO companies have sprung up in the industry. To help you figure out whether your SEO agency isn’t doing any harm, lists down the red flags you should avoid.

1. Nothing Is Needed From You

When hiring an SEO company, they’ll be asking a few things from you. Remember, you’re the website owner, so to optimize, they’ll be needing your help. More or less, they’ll ask for the following:

  • Access to your different social media accounts
  • Access to your Content Management System (CMS)
  • Access to Google Analytics
  • Access to Google Webmaster Tools
  • A list of your target keywords
  • Detailed information of past website SEO audits, penalties, or any work done

If the agency you hired didn’t ask anything from you, they may be doing black hat search engine optimization and are merely adding linkbacks from spammy sites. They won’t be needing access, and there’s a big chance their actions could be hurting your business.

2. No Suggestions For Improvements

After you gave details on the current status of your website, a good SEO firm should be able to come up with suggestions to improve your rankings. If they aren’t asking or telling you to do something, that’s a red flag, or they’re simply not doing anything at all.

Black hat SEO agencies often point linkbacks to your site, hoping that their small efforts can produce high results. They’re not interested in communicating with you as their client. They just want to give you something that makes you think they’re doing good things to increase your organic traffic.

The best SEO companies consider their relationship with you as an important partnership. For a successful optimization, they’ll give recommendations to help your website rank on the first page.

3. No Progress To Show

Search engine optimization is a long-term procedure, so it’s not really about getting instant results or a rise in rankings. Two or four months in a contract may be too early to see significant results, so don’t sweat it too much. However, at best, you’ll know it’s a good agency when they have something to show you, such as the SEO strategies they’re using.

Remember, when hiring an SEO firm, you always have the right to ask about deliverables. In the first few months, they should be able to provide you with:

  • Analysis of your website’s link profile
  • SEO audit
  • Optimized high-quality content
  • Articles with backlinks to your site

The things listed above are just samples as agencies make use of different strategies. But whatever the case, they should be able to give you some reporting as proof that they’re doing something.

4. Rankings and Traffic Drops

Rankings can drop for many reasons, and it’s not necessarily a red flag that has something to do with your partner SEO firm. But, it’s still recommended that you keep an eye (not obsess) over your rankings from time to time. If you notice that it’s consistently declining, your SEO company may be performing actions causing your site to get penalized.

Like rank loss, a sudden traffic drop can be a sign of penalty. If something seems suspicious, your cautious response should be:

  • Check first whether any search engine algorithm changes coincide with the traffic and ranking decline.
  • Second, find out what exact changes were made to your site in the days before the plunge.
  • Lastly, talk to your SEO company to ask about the offsite actions they’ve made.

5. Wrong Keywords Are Ranking

First and foremost, your SEO agency should be aware of what your target keywords are. Regardless of what strategy the company is using, you should be wary of significant changes in your organic keywords. Moreover, if your gaining traffic from the wrong keywords, there should be an underlying reason behind it.

The goal of SEO or digital marketing, in general, is to earn targeted traffic to your website. If the traffic seems too good to be true or from suspicious queries, it may be a sign that your agency is using black hat strategies.

Be Proactive

Just because you’re working with a good digital marketing agency doesn’t mean you should leave it all up to them. Most black hat SEO agencies prey on those underinformed businesses looking for an easier and cheaper way to rank on search engines like Google. By being a proactive client, you can watch over the optimization progress and easily spot if something’s wrong.

There are good SEO companies out there, and we hope you’re working with them for your business. The earlier you know the strategy of your SEO firm, the better chances you have of determining whether they’re actually helping or harming your site.

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Mashum Mollah is an entrepreneur, founder and CEO at Viacon, a digital marketing agency that drive visibility, engagement, and proven results. He blogs at

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