Optimizing your site for search engines, more commonly known as SEO, is a great way to boost your business and there are tons of great SEO agencies, companies and people that can help you do it right. Unfortunately, there are some SEO angencies out there that aren’t on the up and up. Sometimes shady “SEOs” can promise the moon, but leave you with just the stinky cheese. Getting worked over by a bad SEO proposal can not only cost you some serious coin, but can get you in trouble with Google, which can sink your business in the search results. Here are a few “activities” that should raise red flags, and prevent you from getting taken advantage of. Keep these tips top of mind when thinking about hiring an SEO to help boost your business.

Problem #1

The unsolicited email/ SEO proposal: You check your email and the subject line reads, “I’ll help grow your biz.” So you bite and open it. It reads: “Hey XYZ Company, My name is Larry and I work for Larry’s SEO Co. I noticed you aren’t on the front page of Google and I can get you there fast. You also aren’t on Google+, Twitter, etc. I can do this for only $10k a month. Also, I will get every one of your keywords on page one next month.”

A few reasons why this is a really horrible proposal: It’s impossible to give any sort of quote on price, “guarantees” and any other deliverables with out a decently deep dive into the current landscape. We’d be willing to bet that ol’ Larry didn’t put in a few hours work before sending you this bold SEO proposal. If the email sparked your interest, then get to searching Google and keep these next tips in mind.

Problem #2

When you get that SEO firm on the phone, keep your ears tuned to any of the following phrases, because even though they can be done, it might not be in a way that’s in line with Google’s Quality Guidelines and recent Panda and Penguin updates.

“We can get you to page 1 in 1 month!”: We usually don’t say something is impossible, but there’s no way a company can guarantee this and use white hat, Google approved methods. They’ll usually sneakily dance their way around that “guarantee” comment by saying they managed to get some ultra long tail keyword on page one. There aren’t too many people trying to get to page one for the keyword, “twenty ounce black tall and wide coffee mugs,” so they can semi-truthfully say this. Don’t be fooled by this big promise, just pass.

“We will get you 100k backlinks in 1 month”: While they might be able to actually get this done, the links are close to valueless and more than likely will get you penalized by Google. Don’t be tempted.

“Hey I noticed you don’t have a Google+ profile”: This might be true and a Google+ profile is a great thing to have, but a shady SEO company might try to charge you several hundred dollars to do what would take you 15 minutes to do in between checking your emails. We even made it nice and easy for you right here.

Problem #3

You don’t get any straight answers. If you’re paying someone to help you with SEO, you deserve a straight answer. If certain questions you ask make them squirm, you know it is time to look elsewhere for your SEO needs. Here are particular questions you should ask:

“How are you going to get me these backlinks?”: If this question makes them stammer, and drop some “ummms,” odds are they’re using some less than Google approved methods. If they use a vague response like, “our SEOs handle all that stuff,” that should also set off some red flags and you should pass on using the company.

“Can you send me a list of the links you obtain?” Much like having to cite your sources in a school research paper, a stellar SEO company won’t have any qualms about sending over a list of links they obtained. If they do send a list over, spend a few minutes to check over the links to make sure they aren’t spammy and low quality.

Like the robot from Lost in Space, we’re here to keep you from getting your business in danger! Keep these tips in mind and you can save your company valuable time and money. We’ve got 8 SEO tips everyone should know to help you succeed.

If you’ve received a strange or shady SEO proposal, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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