SEO Pro Neil Patel on What Makes a Bad SEO Agency

Black Hat SEO

If you haven’t heard of Neil Patel, you’re (probably) not in the search engine optimization (SEO) industry. He’s an entrepreneur-investor-SEO guru all rolled into one and knows SEO inside and out. While he’s a staunch supporter of every business having an SEO agency on deck, he’s also seen his share of subpar agencies wriggle out of the woodwork. Today, SEO is a “must” for any sized business and that kind of recession-proof industry has all kinds of hacks trying to get rich quick. How can you tell if an SEO agency is up to snuff or slated to be a huge waste of money?

“SEO is critical,” says Patel, but only if done right. There are countless SEO firms out there, and they’re certainly not created equally. That’s why it’s so important to do your research, comparison shop, and rely on a company with a solid history, portfolio, and good reviews. According to Patel, there are some major red flags to watch out for. Is your SEO company committing any of these crimes?

1. You’re getting more (poor quality) backlinks

Link building is a crucial part of SEO, but (just like SEO) all links are not equal. It’s a black hat trick to try to bolster your short-term SEO rankings by stuffing your website with spam backlinks. It’s about quality, not quantity, but somewhat savvy bad SEO agencies know their customers don’t know much about backlinks. Armed with this information, they can fill a website to the brim with bad backlinks that in the short-term produce numbers that look good.

Protect yourself by asking an SEO agency if they engage in backlink building and how. They should use this as an opportunity to explain and educate. Speaking of…

2. Their explanation is weak

You’re not expected to be an expert at SEO—that’s what you’re hiring a company for. However, it’s their job to explain, educate, and inform no matter what your level of SEO savviness. If they’re not clear with explanations, they may be engaging in black hat tactics. You’ll know something is up if they talk in circles, intentionally use industry jargon to confuse you, or have canned responses. Steer clear of these companies.

3. They’re a “specialist” (and that’s all they are)

Some SEO agencies have one strategy they do really well, and that can be normal and great. However, they also need to be able to do many other things well. If they lean heavily on link building, they might actually be more of a link building agency than an SEO agency. Ask about their whole enchilada, and make sure they’re adept at more than just one skill.

4. They can’t keep up with the Panda

Search engine algorithms are constantly changing, such as with the latest Panda 4.1 update. An SEO agency needs to roll with the punches, have the foresight to predict what’s coming next, and immediately jump on any updates or recommended changes that the algorithm demands. SEO is no place for “sticking with the classics.” A great SEO agency is fluid, able to adapt, and knows that what’s best today may not be best tomorrow. They should be able to tell you about algorithm shifts and explain them easily.

You and your website deserve better than a mediocre SEO firm. Be Locally is not only reputable, they create unique packages of service with your needs in mind.

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