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How to Pick the Right SEO Provider

It is common for small businesses to outsource their SEO requirements. With countless tasks to complete, SEO is incredibly time-consuming, so unless you have the expertise, finding a suitable vendor is a reliable approach.

With 53.3% of all website traffic coming from organic search, SEO drives 1000% more traffic than organic social media. In fact, 60% of marketers say that inbound SEO and blog content is their highest quality source of leads. You cannot ignore SEO, and you need to find a provider who can do it well.

When looking for an SEO company, it is essential to cut through the jargon. Everyone will say they are the best, do a brilliant job, and help you rank in Google results. To help you make a decision, in this post, we will present some of the flags that tell you whether an SEO company is as good as they say they are.

Results speak for themselves

Results are one thing, but a significant giveaway is that they don’t talk about your business goals. Any SEO company must understand that every business is different, and if you don’t talk about achieving objectives, there is no way they can guarantee results. All aspects of an SEO campaign must aim towards a common business goal, in alignment with other digital marketing strategies.

A good SEO company will be able to tell you what goes wrong, as well as all the great things they have done. The entire premise of SEO is that you need to test different types of content and keywords. There should not be an expectation that it will work perfectly the first time. If an agency hides away results, it alludes to suspicious behaviors, and you need to elicit those as soon as possible.

If an SEO company provides results that are outdated, you also need to be careful. An excellent campaign for that worked in 2005 would be irrelevant to modern-day marketing and search crawlers. Make sure that you can gauge their talent in 2020, understanding how they adapt to changing trends in the digital landscape.

The SEO company is not transparent

According to digital marketing expert Neil Patel, there are some sure signs to tell if your SEO firm is hurting rather than helping you. He says that responses like below are glaring signs of a scam.

  • “As an SEO firm, our efforts on your behalf must remain confidential.”
  • “Oh, tons of things, it would take too long to explain.”
  • “Due to the nature of the industry, we’re not permitted to disclose our practices.”

An agency should be able to clearly explain any technique and strategy they are deploying for SEO. Even at the very early stages of your SEO journey, a reliable vendor should be able to complete the following, as these items will be a necessity for moving forwards.

  1. An SEO audit of your website to ascertain short, medium, and long-term targets
  2. A review of your domain authority and link profile. For example, a list of any sites that link to yours.
  3. Recommendations for how to optimize the content on your website

A more obvious indication that they are not working through an effective strategy is if they haven’t asked you to provide any information. For example, an SEO agency will need to access your CMS, Google Analytics, social accounts, and webmaster tools, if they are to review your current state of affairs efficiently. If they don’t ask for these details, they are likely posting links up or bombarding the internet with spam that could end up doing more harm than good.

On the flip side, don’t give any company full control of any logins or systems. It’s great for an agency but gives you a predicament if you ever want to review their practices or move to another vendor.

A guarantee of the number one ranking spot

Any agency guaranteeing top spot will do so but not for any term that generates serious traffic or provides enough relevancy to the customer.

Search rankings are also notoriously variable. For example, if you search for an SEO Company in New York and do the same in Florida, the query will produce different results. Search engines have the propensity to fluctuate, meaning even if you do happen to be number one today, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will stay there tomorrow.

The Google algorithm is ever-evolving and always changes how it works, depending on users and the market. Artificial intelligence (AI) is specifically designed to operate independently, meaning that there are parts that Google cannot even fully explain when it comes to rankings. If the algorithm itself cannot guarantee what results will look like, there is no way an SEO agency can guarantee it. Even if an agency says so, nobody has an insider scope on the Google search algorithms.

A credible SEO company will be in a continuous cycle of improvement. Strategies need adjusting with your input and revisions to business goals. SEO needs to keep up with your business trends and changing objectives.


Emphasis is on rankings

Keyword research should look for highly relevant phrases, generate traffic, have commercial intent, and adequate competition. When your competitors make changes to their sites, these metrics will always differ, causing search engine results to reshuffle. Finding ways to optimize content is a long-term strategy and not a quick-fix solution to get to number one.

Within Google Analytics, you can see how keywords are driving traffic to your website, within the Acquisition section.

If you are gaining traffic from unfamiliar keywords or not ranking for ones that you should, there is likely to be a problem with your SEO strategy. Traffic from unrelated keywords is a sign that your agency is focusing on ranking well, rather than looking at how to get quality leads.

Ask whether you would share the content

The example below has a clear goal of ranking for the term “SEO Course.” However, the content here is not something that reads well, does not convince the reader to convert, and would not be shareable in other channels.


A genuine SEO company will focus on high-quality content over strategies like keyword stuffing, which search engine crawlers now frown upon.

“Dirty” links

If the referral websites show any of the traits below, they are not likely to be credible sources and are a sign that the SEO company is looking for quick fixes.

  • Links from irrelevant websites that are different to the topics on yours. The traffic coming into your site is not high-quality and will not convert.
  • Pages that are written in poor English and contain a lot of advertising.
  • A vast number of links in blog posts, comments, and forums.
  • Links sourced from abroad.

If you see any of these types of inbound links, it is time to question the agency as to their link-building practices. In some cases, agencies will outsource these tasks to places like India, where the labor is cheaper than Europe or the US. In doing so, they are devaluing your brand and customers.


Read on:

“Building the roads to digital destinations.”