Signs of a Questionable SEO Company

With the ever-growing number of firms offering search engine optimization services, choosing the right Internet marketing company to handle your practice’s SEO can be a tough decision. To help make life a little easier, Rosemont Media has highlighted ten signs of a questionable SEO provider — each of which should be a strong indicator to walk away.

1. The Promise of Top Google Rankings

While the goal of every SEO strategy is to reach the summit of search engine results, marketing firms that guarantee rankings should draw a major red flag. Now, this is not to say your SEO company can’t eventually get you to the top of Google results — they certainly can by employing the right tactics, strictly complying to industry rules and changes, and devoting a personalized level of attention to your practice’s needs and goals. That said, with the constant evolution of search engine optimization, not a single SEO provider has the foresight to promise a top spot to its clients without using an unethical approach.

2. Poor-Quality Content

Content is king. As the supreme ruler, informative and original content can provide an excellent boost for your SEO results. Similar in impact yet opposite in trend, shallow and/or duplicate content can send your website’s search engine rankings into a downward spiral — one that may take exponentially longer to recover from than it took to reach rock bottom. If your current or prospective SEO company is “recycling” template blog posts, press releases, web pages, etc. by simply changing a few words here and there to fit your practice, run away. Run far away. Your site needs to be full of high-quality, valuable content authored for your business and your business alone. No other content marketing strategy will yield better SEO results while proving beneficial for patients.

3. Misleading Metrics

It’s no secret that numbers and statistics can often be presented in a way that favors the exhibitor. While the vast majority of Internet marketing companies will shoot you straight, there are those who attempt to make SEO metrics look a bit better than they actually are. For instance, be wary of firms that garner website traffic by optimizing photo galleries. While doing so could certainly attract visitors to your site via Google image searches, this is not considered quality traffic, and it often converts viewers into patients at a very low level. This is just one of many ways to create misleading metrics, so be sure to pay close attention to the statistics your SEO firm presents, and don’t shy away from asking to see the analytics for yourself (which brings us to our next point…).

4. Restricted Google Analytics Access

This is pretty self-explanatory. If your SEO firm refuses to grant you access to your own Google Analytics (as in, they won’t allow you to see how your website is performing for yourself), you’re in trouble. What are they hiding? There is no reason they should want to keep you from accessing this information. In fact, your SEO company should not only provide you with access to Google Analytics, they should be happy to help you interpret the metrics you find as well as answer any questions you may have about what you come across.

5. Limited Services

To achieve—and maintain—a top Google ranking takes a well-oiled machine clicking on all cylinders. From website design and content creation to link building and social media marketing, there are numerous elements that work together to aid in search engine optimization, all of which should be at your disposal. This is not to say every available SEO tactic has to be employed to achieve optimal results. But in order to customize the most effective package for your practice, a comprehensive set of solutions needs to be on hand. To put it candidly: If your Internet marketing firm doesn’t offer a full spectrum of SEO services, you may be missing out on a vital component that could keep you from reaching the top.

6. Old, Stale Strategies

Search engine optimization is ever-evolving, and your SEO company should be keeping pace. If your marketing provider is slow to adopt the industry’s newest, most innovative strategies, your website rankings are destined to suffer the consequences. Some old, stale tactics to be on the lookout for include keyword stuffing in content, over-optimization of cities and locations, desktop-only design capabilities, pages of content with little to no helpful information (clickbait), and much more. To determine if an SEO firm is on top of their game, we suggest checking out their blog to see the types of topics they’re writing about and how in-tune they are with industry fluctuations.

7. Lack of Regular Reporting

This is a no-brainer. Internet marketing companies should be providing SEO reports on a regular basis, whether it’s monthly, bi-monthly, or even quarterly. If your marketer does not offer consistent performance analyses that include more than just keyword ranking statistics, it would behoove you to find a firm that’s a little more forthcoming with the state of your SEO. By receiving regular updates, you can establish benchmarks and more closely understand the progress of your online campaign.

8. Long-Term Contracts

Hey — sometimes relationships just don’t work out. For this reason, it’s important to beware of long-term contracts in the world of SEO. Never sign a two-year (or longer) agreement with an Internet marketing company; you don’t want to be locked into a bad strategy. We recommend signing year-to-year contracts so you can go elsewhere if you’re not completely satisfied with your progress. In addition, negotiating a 30-day out on any agreement you make is always smart, as it gives you the leverage to jump ship if something doesn’t feel right.

9. Proprietary Software

No matter how advanced or appealing it may be, always remain cautious of proprietary software. If all software and systems used for your website are under the sole ownership of your SEO company, you run the risk of being left with nothing should you ever choose to part ways with your provider. Ensuring all software is transferable can help make any transition from one firm to another a lot smoother.

10. Cloaking to Trick Search Engines

When an SEO company advertises one piece of content to site visitors and shows a completely different piece of content to search engines, this practice is called “cloaking.” Some SEO providers use cloaking as a fast way to secure rankings for a piece of content, even when the page has nothing to do with a user’s searched key terms. Since cloaking does not attempt to solve a user’s query, patient conversion is rare. Predictably, Google does not take kindly to this “bait-and-switch” approach and cloaking will not result in meaningful growth for your practice. A good rule of thumb when trying to identify whether a certain strategy is legitimate is to ask yourself: “Does this practice help the reader? Will this provide the user with the answers they’re looking for?”

Ultimately, black-hat SEO tactics — which refer to shady methods that seek to manipulate search engine algorithms for short-term improvement, rather than achieving natural, organic rankings for long-term growth — are more likely to damage your digital presence than provide meaningful improvements. It’s in your best interest to seek out a reputable SEO provider who garners quality website traffic with strategies that enhance the user experience for potential patients.  

Questions, Concerns, Want to Chat?

If you have any questions about the red flags outlined above, or if you are searching for a reputable and trustworthy SEO firm to comprehensively address your Internet marketing needs in the field of elective healthcare, we encourage you to contact us today to speak with one of our experienced consultants about how Rosemont Media may be able to help.

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on August 15, 2017.

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