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Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Working with an SEO Agency

Having an SEO strategy is vital for most businesses in today’s digital landscape as the internet is the first place people go when they are looking for services or products. The issue now is that everyone wants to be seen online and visibility over the competition has become increasingly difficult and many businesses simply don’t have the expertise in-house to compete.

This is where SEO agencies enter the chat…businesses now rely on agencies to optimise their online presence and help them attract and convert customers.

However, choosing an SEO agency to work with can be a difficult task. In this blog, I’m sharing some of the most common pitfalls you should look out for when working with an SEO agency.

Insufficient Research and Due Diligence

When choosing an SEO agency, you don’t want to jump into bed with the first agency that comes along – take your time to research potential bed mates and make sure they’re a good fit!

Of course, there are faults any agency can cover up but if you carry out due diligence beforehand and do a little bit of research, you can out least weed out the really bad agencies! Choosing an agency too hastily, without doing any research could land you stuck in a contract with the ‘bad guys’, kicking yourself that you didn’t carry out any basic checks.

Avoid this common pitfall by making a shortlist of agencies you like the look of and then reading their case studies, reading reviews from other customers, and even asking for references (any decent agency will be happy to do this).

Lack of Clear Goals and Expectations

Vague objectives can lead to miscommunication and disappointment. Work with your SEO agency to define what it is you are trying to achieve and what your expectations are. It’s helpful if you have these defined before you approach agencies so you can communicate what it is you want to achieve.

Don’t worry if you aren’t 100% sure about your expectations or whether they are achievable – it’s the agency’s job to help you manage expectations that are in line with your budget, and what is feasibly possible.

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Overemphasis on Price

If you’ve worked with more than one SEO agency in the past or have had several quotes, you will notice that prices can vary across the industry.

A common pitfall is to put too much emphasis on price and simply pick the cheapest agency.

Instead, look at the value you will receive for your investment over the long term and ask the agency what ROI you can expect to see. Don’t be tempted to go for ‘cheap and fast results’…because there is honestly no such thing with most SEO campaigns!

Cheaper agencies may compromise quality and long-term results – these types of agencies pull you in with value, give you some fast results that quickly fade and leave you looking for another agency because you’re disappointed. Look for an agency that’s truthful about what you can achieve with your budget, and how long they think it will take for you to see results.

Ignoring the SEO Process Explanation

Different agencies will have their own approach and processes for getting results – yes, we all work in the same industry and broadly stick to the same techniques and methods but keep in mind that SEO changes a lot and opinions can also differ between SEO professionals!

Ask your potential agency what approaches they use and how they know their techniques work. For example, at GrowTraffic, we tend to focus on content-driven SEO campaigns, and we can prove our methods work by demonstrating results. We can happily explain to clients why we work the way we do, based on our experience, continued learning, and what we achieve for our existing clients.

Failure to Monitor Progress and Results

SEO isn’t a one-time job. Campaigns need routine monitoring, tweaking and adjustments to get the best results. A good agency will know when something isn’t working, let you know, and adjust accordingly. A bad agency will sit back and wait for a customer to complain they aren’t seeing any results.

Ask your potential agency how they monitor results, what the process is for adjusting campaigns, and how often they will communicate with you on progress and results. Agencies will often offer different levels of reporting, so make sure you ask beforehand what is included in your contract and whether review/progress meetings are included.

Black Hat SEO Techniques

Black hat SEO techniques are techniques that go against the guidelines set by search engines, such as Google. It’s basically trying to ‘cheat’ the system to gain higher rankings. Using these techniques can land you in hot water, potentially have your website wiped from search results, and ultimately affect your bottom line.

Black hat SEO includes things such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, and paid backlinks – you can read about it in more detail here. Take time to acquaint yourself with what is and isn’t considered good practice because no agency is going to tell you upfront that they use black hat techniques!

Unrealistic Promises and Guarantees

Be wary of SEO agencies that overpromise and underdeliver. We are very clear with our clients that we don’t 100% guarantee results because SEO success is influenced by various factors and is not entirely controllable.

What we do guarantee is that we use our expertise to create strategies that in our experience have worked before and should work, and that if things aren’t working, you can be sure we will be all over it and make changes!

Any honest agency should tell you the same thing – if someone promises you that they can get you to ‘number one on Google…guaranteed’, trust me when I tell you to run for your life!

Poor Communication and Transparency

This is a biggie…one of the most frequent complaints we hear about other SEO agencies is the lack of transparency and poor communication. I’m not kidding when I say I know people who have paid a monthly fee to an SEO agency for ‘SEO’…and that’s it. They didn’t have a clue what the agency did each month for that fee or if anything was working.

It’s not unreasonable to ask your agency for change logs, records, and clear visibility over what they are spending your money on. This is especially important when your agency is working on tasks that have low visibility – working on the back end of your website, for example.

Transparency over what we do at GrowTraffic is one of our unique selling points and something we feel sets us apart from a lot of other agencies. We go to great lengths to ensure our clients can see exactly what we’re doing with the time they pay us for.

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Not Focusing on Quality Content

As mentioned earlier, different agencies will specialise in different aspects of SEO and have their preferred methods of working – we favour content-based strategies and make high-quality content our top priority.

You may find some agencies are focused on technical SEO and they don’t have the creative expertise in-house to deliver good quality content. Or deliver any content at all…

We know that high-quality content should be a key component of any SEO campaign, so we have an in-house team of experienced, SEO copywriters.

Short-Term Mindset and Impatience

Finally, one of the biggest pitfalls when choosing an SEO agency (in my opinion), is expecting miracles overnight. If you think SEO is a one-time project or you are going to see massive results in the first month of working with an agency…you need to change your expectations sharpish or you will only end up disappointed.  

We would rather be straight up and honest with clients and tell them that SEO is a long-term investment requiring patience and consistent effort. We emphasise gradual, sustainable growth and ideally, we want to partner with clients that understand that because it saves us any heartbreak further down the line!

Honesty, Integrity, Transparency

If I could emphasise any of the points made in the article, it would be the whole honesty and integrity thing…

So many times we hear stories about people being disappointed in the SEO agency they chose and consequently, being wary when it came to working with an agency ever again. It makes us sad!

Most issues all boil down to transparency, over-promising, bad communication, and deceitful tactics. That’s why we emphasise our values to clients, of honesty, transparency, and integrity – we openly aim to be the opposite of the bad guys!

Of course, the bad guys aren’t going to tell you they are bad guys…but by carefully avoiding some of the SEO agency pitfalls I’ve mentioned above, you should be able to find yourself a good agency to work with!

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