We get calls from business owners and executives all the time asking our opinion about the national “big box” sellers of SEO, SEM and online lead generation services.
Here is the bottom line: SEO is a professional service and needs to be performed by experienced SEO consultants.
SEO is not an add-on service and you don’t order it like its a side a French fries.
Many of the national digital marketing agencies pitch SEO like its a commodity service that you can buy anywhere.
I’d LOVE to call out some of these companies by name, but won’t do that here. I am sure you know who some of them are.
Some of them try to sell services to all businesses types, while others target verticals like dentists or lawyers. While all these companies will have a handful of success stories, the vast majority of their clients never get any meaningful results.
For the national boiler-room SEO & SEM companies, this is a churn and burn industry.
Businesses will often “pay their tuition” until they realize the ROI is just not there. Many businesses owners end up giving up on SEO altogether, while others realize that they need to become educated buyers to find the right provider next time around.
This seems like common sense right? Yet every day, and probably scores of times since you’ve started reading this blog post, companies are signing up for shady Internet marketing services.
Google is the most competitive digital platform on the planet. You are not going to rank well in competitive niches for $99/mo.
There is no such thing as cheap SEO. Its an investment, not an expense.
Because so much of SEO it a combination of strategy, tactics and implementation, it is very hard for companies to scale SEO services like the fast food industry.
In fact, the best SEO results you will ever get will come from an experienced consultant, or a specialized boutique agency.
You will NEVER EVER get sustainable SEO results from a national online marketing company.
Furthermore, SEO will always be fragmented industry, much the same way law firms are scattered throughout the country.
I could write a book on this topic, however, one of the best articles on how to plan and budget for SEO was written by Josh Steimle. In this post, Josh explains how most of the SEO snake-oil is sold at the $1,000/mo and under price range.
He also points out that SEO is a long term play. You can expect to see minimal results in 3-6 months, with more complete results in 12 months or so.
Guaranteed rankings or promises of quick rankings is a major red flag.
If you talk to any SEO service provider, they better be talking a lot about content marketing, reputation management and social media – because its all tied together.
Many years ago, it was possible to rank with passive SEO services that centered around technical on-page SEO and off-page backlinks. That has changed BIG TIME. While backlinks are still an important part of SEO, its all about quality and relevance – and low quality backlinks can actually get you into trouble.
This is the point I really wanted to drive home. In the old days, poor quality SEO was just a waste of money. These days, low quality SEO can carry a long term ranking risks for your site just like a junk food diet can damage your health.
This list of questions will get you started. Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple Consulting wrote great blog post recently on how to vet out SEO service providers and here is another I wrote on on 12 Questions To Ask Before Hiring An SEO Company.