I know a number of small companies who have put their faith in SEO agencies only to have their websites ruined by black hat practices. I’ve seen failing web businesses pay thousands of dollars to “rise in the rankings,” only to discover they’ve been duped.

That is not something I want to happen to you. I don’t want you to spend money or destroy your website. This post was written to assist you in determining if your SEO agency is beneficial or harmful.

The article is divided into three sections. I’ll start by explaining how to tell whether they’re harming you. Second, I’ll show you how to tell whether they’re really assisting you.

Finally, I’ll go over a few points that can assist you in working with an SEO service profitably.

Your SEO agency is causing you harm: Signs They’re Making a Mistake

So, you decide to engage an SEO agency. Now what? Should you entrust them with everything SEO and expect your rankings to improve as a result of their efforts?

No.

Instead, particularly during the first few months of the contract, you should find out precisely what they’re doing. The sooner you learn what they’re up to, the greater your chances of establishing if they’re helping or hurting your site.

Here are several red flags that your SEO agency could be an issue.

They have nothing to show for it.

Your SEO agency should be able to demonstrate something to you. I’m not talking about rankings or outcomes here. Instead, the firm should be able to demonstrate the SEO techniques they use.

It’s possible that two, three, or even four months into a contract is too soon for substantial SEO results, so don’t get too worked up if you’re not getting the top results you expected.

Your SEO agency, on the other hand, should be doing something with the money you provide them. You are within your rights to request deliverables.

In the initial few weeks or months of a contract, an SEO agency may be able to deliver the following services:

  • an SEO audit of your website 
  • a link profile analysis of your website 
  • optimized content on your website
  • items on other sites with connections to your site that are being or have been published

This is only a small sample. In any case, you should double-check that they are truly doing anything and have evidence.

They don’t request anything from you

An SEO agency that is successful will need your assistance. Because you’re the site’s owner, they may ask for the following:

  • access to your CMS as an editor or administrator 
  • access to Google Analytics as a viewer or administrator 
  • access to Google Webmaster Tools 
  • access to social media accounts 
  • a list of target keywords

It’s possible they’re just adding linkbacks from their enormous network of spammy sites if they don’t ask for anything. They don’t require access, and there’s a risk they’re doing something possibly dangerous.

They haven’t made any suggestions for improvement.

If an SEO agency doesn’t ask or advise you to perform specific things, it’s a hint that they’re up to anything shady, or they’re doing nothing at all.

Often, shady SEOs will just direct a number of linkbacks to your site. They are hopeful that their little efforts would result in significant effects. They have no desire to interact with you, their customer. Instead, they just want to offer you something to make you believe you are receiving a benefit.

The best SEO companies see their engagement with you as a collaboration. You’ll have to collaborate with them to be successful. That is, they will give suggestions. Later in this essay, I’ll tell you what type of suggestions I have.

They are unable to share their methods.

If you’re inquisitive about your SEO’s activities — and you should be – inquire.

“So, what precisely are you guys up to?”

Any of the following replies are clear fraud indicators:

  • “As an SEO business, we must keep our work on your behalf private.”
  • “We are not authorized to discuss our methods due to the nature of the business.”
  • “Well, we do a lot of things, but the most important thing is that we optimize your site for search engines.”
  • “Oh, so many things.” It would take too much time for me to explain.”
  • “I’m not sure precisely what you’re looking for, but I’ll get back to you.”

If you receive a response like that, I suggest terminating the SEO agency as soon as possible. True SEO entails using white hat techniques that are widely acknowledged as legal and have been shown to produce results. Your agency should be able to explain why they are doing those things.

If they can’t, you’ve fallen for a con. Tell them to get out of here.

You are subject to a manual penalty.

One of the worst things that may happen to your website is a manual penalty.

If you get a GWT notice or an email message, you’ll know you’ve received a manual penalty.

You have every reason to be concerned if you obtain a manual penalty one or two months after starting work with an SEO service.

You don’t want to fire them straight immediately, obviously. It’s not their fault just because you received a manual punishment. But it’s possible.

To figure out why your site was punished and what to do about it, you’ll need to perform some serious thinking and questioning. Click here for more about You may want to fire your SEO agency.

Your Positions Have Dropped

Rankings might decline for a number of reasons, none of which are related to your SEO agency.

I advise you to keep an eye on your ranks (but not obsess over it). If you see that your rankings are gradually falling, it’s possible that your SEO is taking steps that are causing your website to get punished.

You must learn more about the agency’s activities. Get them to stop if it sounds, looks feels, or smells strange.

Your website traffic decreases

A rapid decline in traffic, similar to a drop in rank, might indicate an algorithmic punishment. This is a problem.