99% of the “SEO” firms out there are nothing more than petty link spammers that have no clue how to do anything of value. Sadly most of them have no clue that what they’re doing is against Google’s TOS. So many real brands hire these snake oil providers because they themselves are not on the up and up.
If your brand offers nothing worth linking(or worth socially sharing) to then please stop every marketing tactic you’re currently doing and refocus. I get a dozen emails a day from people wanting to work with us and I sadly have to turn down nearly all of them. That or they get offende when I state they’ll need a few thousand dollars a month to compete in their competitive verticals. So please stop emailing me unless you want to actually, as Wil Reynolds puts it, “real company shit”.
Sadly, I also get a large number of emails from real companies who have hired these know-nothing consultants who have done nothing but keyword stuff their pages and build god awful links. I hope to help a little by ranting like an angry old man as well as provide you with the knowledge to sniff out a snake.
Audit 1: Their Link Profile
So let’s say you’ve gone to Google and typed in “whitehat SEO services” or “SEO services” or “link building services” etc etc…you will be presented with pretty much only companies who spammed to get their and do the same to their clients. Even some of the “big name” companies showing up here are just spamming to justify their rankings. I’m not one to out a company anymore so for that reason I won’t be naming names.
So in order to audit their links it’s quite simple, just use one of the free or paid tools out there such as Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs, MajesticSEO. For this example below I’ve used Open Site Explorer because you can signup with a free account and get quite a bit of data.
Just as suspected, the first result has the lamest links with all targeted anchor text. So much for Google’s updates…
Anyone who pays attention to the organic SERPs know that Penguin and Panda are a joke if you’re a spammer. You can still make tons and tons of money within a few month time period with nothing but a 2-3 page website and tons of link spam. The site in question here recently did a big blast to secure the top position for any link building service related keyword.
If you see a potential SEO firm with really unnatural anchors like that stay far away because they have no idea what they’re doing. Before you start commenting in anger at me, yes I know target anchor text ranks a site and thus they have an idea of what they’re doing. You just don’t want your legit company being handled by the likes of someone from Digital Point or the Warrior Forum.
Audit 2: Their Clients
The second thing I’d recommend taking a look at is if they list any clients on their website. A lot of SEO firms do this to establish credit, so take advantage of that. I recommend taking a look at the following:
- Their link profile, specifically anchor text levels and types of links
- Their on-page SEO and quality of content
- What kind of social signals
- Check the rankings for the clients main keywords
- Check prices…if they’re a few hundred dollars you’re just going to get spam
You will quickly see a pattern emerge and should be able to tell if the SEO company is garbage within just a few minutes. If they don’t offer any clients(as we don’t) on their website just ask. If they don’t provide any you know you can move onto the next or just give me an email.
That’s It Folks!
As you can see it doesn’t take much effort to figure things out and please do investigate before handing over the life of your brand online. I don’t care if you don’t contact us to handle your brand, but please don’t let some scumbag SEO company ruin your organic rankings.