The title of this article is slightly provocative, but I’m writing it as warning to businesses that put their trust in SEO agencies.
We’ve had a few situations recently where SEO (search engine optimisation) companies have ruined their client’s website performance, literally overnight. This has been for a variety of reasons ranging from (suspected) sabotage, to using underhand ‘black-hat’ techniques, or just pure ignorance.
I outlined the 'SEO as sabotage' case a few months back in a separate article, and I’m pleased to report that we managed to undo the SEO agency’s actions.
Incoming links to websites can improve their SEO, but this is not always the case. Low quality links from ‘spammy’ websites will often do more harm than good. We’ve had a client in the past who recruited an SEO agency to increase their links. The agency used bulk-processing methods (I believe through an Indian firm) to create thousands of inbound links. This worked great, until Google discovered what they had done, and they received a penalty which immediately stopped their website from being listed. Even now several years on, and even with our help, they are still recovering and this has seriously harmed their business.
Today we discovered another SEO company using a link building strategy, which is against Google’s rules. They will of course argue that what they’re doing is justified, but they are using a website representing a fake marketing company to implement this strategy, and the security system on the web host that we manage flagged this up almost immediately, with them threatening to suspend our client’s websites. They obviously considered this an issue, and so did the SEO company … after all, why would they originate their ‘optimisation’ from a fake marketing company website, with fake staff profiles?
One of the main issues we find with a lot of SEO companies is that they use software to scan websites and produce generic reports. These findings are then passed back to their clients who take it literally.
In reality this SEO software is a great starting point, but it is just that, a starting point. You need a web developer who knows the website to then interpret the results and separate the good from the irrelevant and base their recommendations on this. Unfortunately we have found that many SEO consultants come from a marketing background and so don’t know enough about the underlying system to produce accurate advice. Either that or they are working to low budgets and treating their projects like products on a production line, and pushing them through as fast as they can.
In order to get the most out of search engine optimisation a company should always choose an SEO company that has a proven website design and development background, and can look at the whole picture from design, to the user journey, to the content, to the underlying content management system, to the whole marketing strategy.
Businesses also shouldn’t be afraid to do their own research, or ask their SEO company to justify their actions. It’s also possible, as with one of our larger clients, to use the opinion of several SEO companies to be sure that they are making the right decisions. Many a time have we had discussions with SEO agencies about their strategies, and will always ‘put up a fight’ to ensure that our clients go down the correct path.
It should be noted that not all SEO companies are bad; there are thousands of good ones and hopefully most people reading this will never experience an issue. We are one of these companies and do search engine optimisation and online marketing to a high level. We crucially do not treat customers as a production line, and look at each product independently giving it the attention to detail that it requires. We also use our decades of web design and development experience to ensure that we advise our clients correctly, and on many occasion have heated debates in the office when one part of our team disagrees with the other.
Websites are an important part of most modern businesses, and so the search engine optimisation is often vital. If your business couldn’t survive if it dropped off of Google tonight, then you should think long and hard when choosing an SEO company … it could be one of the best or worst decisions that you make this year.
We are Webbed Feet UK, we are an web design and SEO agency in Salisbury.