What Do People Hate About SEO Agencies?

What is the biggest reason why?

Put simply; people hate BS.

Far too many ‘SEO companies’ have been shown to be full of it.
Simon Cowell fed up

It’s been more than a few years now since people began realising: ‘hey, there’s money to be made in this SEO lark, let’s give it a go’ and SEO became a big thing.

Like every ‘big thing,’ there’s good and bad.

On the one hand, there are some agencies that are good at what they do but are honest about what can’t be done. These often white-hat and organic agencies know their limits and strive for transparency. The transparency adds to the security of the campaign, and you know you can leave your business in capable hands.

Then, on the other hand, there are those who will lie through their teeth to get business and then attempt to deliver on what they promised via some terrible black hat SEO techniques. While the presented techniques are appealing and too good to be true..they are too good by a long shot. Exaggerations on ability show that trust does not matter to the black hat company.

Sadly, since SEO became a ‘thing’ far too many people have been burned by these cowboy SEOs. Getting betrayed by these false agencies can be detrimental to your business and your rankings within the Search Engines.

Not just small businesses either….

There was a huge scandal in the US several years back when it was discovered that the SEO agency representing one of the biggest department stores, JC Penney, had been up to all kinds of terrible things to get their client ranked.

One of the techniques used in that campaign was the application of very general or irrelevant keywords for products. So when users would search for blue evening gowns, they could end up on a product page that had absolutely nothing to do with that item, but the search results showed that there was a product match.

Another point with this particular campaign was that through the months that it lasted, the company ended up getting multiple warnings and penalties, but the campaign continued on the same path.

The agency was fired, but Google still penalized the company, big shot retailer or not. The mud stuck too, especially as tons of people like me are still citing this example some six years after it happened, as a cautionary tale. ⚠️

Large companies have an ability to recover and reinvest a bit easier, but these hits still take a huge effect. For smaller companies, these effects are absolutely detrimental and have the ability to wipe them off the face of Google and ruin the business.

To be honest, as an SEO consultant in London, it really winds me up when I hear such stories, as it reflects poorly on the industry; however, it motivates me all the more to ENSURE that we deliver RESULTS to all of our clients here at Pearl Lemon.

Advice when looking for an agency

Make sure that when looking to bring on an SEO agency, you do your research fully. Here’s some advice to consider when choosing to work with an agency:

1: Grill the heck out of any SEO agency you consider hiring.

Ask them as many questions as you need prior to working with them. Things like:

  • What methods do you use?
  • How many clients have you served?
  • What niches have you served?
  • Do you have case studies?
  • Do you have any typical results?
  • What is client support and onboarding like?
  • How quick will you respond?
  • How long will the contract last?
  • How long have you been in the business?
  • What makes you the best?

At my SEO agency, Pearl Lemon, we encourage all of our prospective clients to ask questions. So do feel free to drop us a line at any time!
SEO agency Pearl Lemon's website homepage

2: Ask for PROOF

If the SEO agency is not transparent about what they have done – this is a MAJOR red flag! 

When researching agencies, you should be able to find a variety of resources to support your choice. If the agency has AUTHENTIC reviews, testimonials, case studies, social media accounts, and press releases…you can probably come to the conclusion that they are trustworthy. 

All of these factors allow you to gather information like how campaigns went, results garnered, client support and more. Looking at social media can also help pinpoint if the company is engaging and cares about the community it operates in. These things all point to a more organic agency. 

A blackhat agency will probably have scammy looking reviews and very general testimonials…if they have them. Case studies will fall short, and if they give rapid ranking in VERY short periods of time, you can assume unethical techniques were used. Simply put, gold standard SEO takes time to execute and implement before Google recrawls the site.

That’s why here at Pearl Lemon, we publish testimonials from our clients.
SEO Agency Pearl Lemon's client testimonial

3: Once you’ve hired the agency, make sure you get constant reporting.

This allows you to keep up to date with the progress. Any good SEO agency will be fine with all of that stuff; it’s just the bad ones that won’t.

Reporting very obviously keeps you as a client in the loop. If you are not being provided with monthly and some weekly reporting with quick communication…how do you know your campaign is authentic and progress is being made. 

Reports should include things like:

  • Progress and possible pitfalls for the month
  • Link progress
  • Content progress
  • Keyword ranking shifts
  • Common FAQs for the report
  • Maybe a recording or instructions HOW to read the report
  • And possibly more

Here at Pearl Lemon, our clients LOVE the fact that we keep them in the loop! We send our clients updates and progress reports consistently, every 48 hours!

4: Make sure the agency is knowledgeable about the entire scope of SEO

This may pair with ensuring they can provide proof and asking questions…but true knowledge holds the agency to a certain level. They should be able to give you reasons and depth to your concerns.

Most agencies have a rehearsed response that can paint a picture of your expectation being met. But what happens when you get halfway into your campaign, and there are new questions or hiccups to address?

You want to be sure that the chosen agency is going to be able to fully answer your concerns and give you CONTEXT to those answers. A simple yes, no, maybe, or soon won’t cut it when deep in your campaign. When approaching your business…your baby…knowing why things are happening are more important than just knowing what is happening.

You NEED reasons and a plan of attack.

If your rankings drop…you need the why. Maybe Google had a recent update that impacted your niche, so everyone took some sort of hit… the agency should be able to tell you what happened, why it happened, how it impacted you and what the course of action will be to recover rankings and continue to improve your SEO.

5 Ensure the agency will give you a catered approach

In the world of SEO, there is no definitive single way to do things. There are countless methods and techniques to optimise a site and get it ranking and performing at its top level.

You want to look into if the agency has a one-size-fits-all approach or if they will have a customised approach. Customisation is always the way to go.

Your chosen agency may offer pricing tiers and packages, but when you begin to talk in detail, they should be able to point out what technique is going to work best based on your CMS, within your niche, and depending on your issues and needs beyond just the package listing.

This doesn’t mean milk the campaign for all its worth, but rather be sure that your site will be addressed specifically to what affects your niche and CMS. Approaching WordPress vs Wix vs Weebly vs Joomla may all have minor differences, just like working in the Cannabis niche vs healthcare vs real estate may have different requirements as well.

Your chosen agency should be able to adapt, learn and prove that they can accomplish tackling any niche…and if that agency has doubts they should be able to express to you that your company may not be a good fit for themselves and hopefully refer you to an agency that may be better suited to your specific needs.

I REALLY hope this advice proves to be helpful! If you are looking for more advice and encouragement, pour over our other blogs or drop us a line…

Let Pearl Lemon show you that all of your concerns will be well addressed and you won’t be scorned by our organic and white-hat approach to SEO.

If you’re looking for local SEO services in London or an affordable SEO marketing agency to work with – let’s chat!

Also for more digital growth-related advice, and SEO tips be sure to check us out on Quora.