When to Fire Your SEO Firm – 5 Warning Signs to Look For

Like web development and application technology, the world of search engine optimization (SEO) has changed over the years.  If your current SEO firm is partying like it’s still 1999, you should begin shopping immediately.

Below are the top 5 warning signs you are might be wasting your time and marketing dollars.

Warning Sign #1: Meta Tags.  If the conversation begins with optimization of meta tags begin shopping immediately.  The top search engines have not used Meta tags for almost a decade.  Overused and abused, today they only give experienced firms an edge when reviewing competitor’s sites for what they hope to rank for and serve no investment into the optimization effort.

Warning Sign #2: Keyword Lists.  If the goal of the whole program is centered around some list of keyword terms, consider this: any firm in the business can get you ranked on page one within weeks for any number of 10,000 terms.  It’s not the quantity, quality or even position of some list but exactly what terms should be worked on.

Warning Sign #3: Restricted Web Statistics Reporting.  If the only way you can see your web stats is by asking for a report, don’t walk, run to find a new company. Without getting into the debate of server-side based stats and inclusion tag stats (such as Google Analytics), if you’re not given free and unfiltered access to YOUR web stats and have to rely on constructed reports, a red flag should be waving.

Warning Sign #4: Soles & Elbows.  Beware of firms that are constantly tweaking every page of the web site. Google “likes” large, aged sites, and though there are valid reasons to keep a page fresh and updated, tweaking for tweaking sake may be causing harm.

Warning Sign #5: Promises and Guarantees.  If your clean coded site is over 6 months old I can guarantee you already rank on page one for something, promise! In the world of SEO there are no promises and guarantees for results.  Two computers sitting side-by-side looking up the same keyword term may show different results, so how can anyone guarantee you an absolute position?

There you have it, a few of the top warning flags to be on the look out for.  There are more, so take heed to at least these first few warning signs. 

Our Own List of Five: 

We have experienced and run into many of these firms’ burnt victims and have helped a great deal.  As a qualified optimization firm, we too have a list like this of potential clients and warning signs to avoid them as problems waiting to happen. It’s almost the mirror of the list from above.  In short order:

Problem Client #1: “I want my Meta-Meal Mary.” Forget the glaring omission of a true call to action, someone told her search engine riches would come from great meta tags. She knows how to View Source now and knows if you add her keywords to that keyword meta tag, cash will flow.

Problem Client #2: “Generic Jim” wants that term, and if you can’t you’re fired. Typically some single term with 100+ million optimized sites, “Jim” doesn’t have a clue what terms are actually generating sales, just wants his name in lights!

Problem Client #3: “Data-Dumpster-Diver Dave.” This client will find some odd stat like a “3am on a Sunday spike from Croatia” and demand a full investigation of what term was used and what was viewed on the site. Oblivious to any real valuable statistic, “Dave” wants to sound important.

Problem Client #4: “Pushy Pat” – “If you aren’t pushing pixels, you ain’t working!” The need to see everyone scurrying is not a wise choice in optimization since there is a delayed reaction to every edit. Tweak, test, measure and repeat as needed.

Problem Client #5: “Promise Paula” This client wants you to guarantee $1 million in sales this quarter for their $2,500 investment. I can win the lottery too, but odds are not favorable this will happen.

In the end it all comes down to expectation, education and exchange. A qualified SEO firm should be able to clear up any misconceptions you may have had with the goal of optimization, and you will need to learn that it’s more than a few tweaks to achieve your ultimate goals, more sales and customers, not “rankings.”

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