Eeek! We can practically hear the SEO companies lining up ready to virtually yell at us for exposing their secrets🗣️
But for years now we’ve offered SEO services, previously alongside our web design, and now as part of our SEO blog writing & management service. We’re experts, and so we know that not all SEO companies are created equal.
And, while we know that SEO is hugely beneficial for your business it’s also a BIG investment (both in time and money). And that’s why you need to choose the right company to get you to the top of those all-important search results.
Are we saying that SEO companies are full of problems?
Of course NOT. There are some GREAT ones out there that can help you get your website ranking highly on Google.
However, SEO is not well-known as being a trustworthy or reputable industry. And unfortunately, there are some common problems we see with some SEO agencies we think you should be wary of.
So in this blog, we’re exploring some of the most common problems with hiring an SEO agency and giving you a solution to fix them.
But First: Why do you need to think about SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the process of making changes or additions to your website in order to help you rank highly in search engine results.
When was the last time you clicked on page two of Google’s search results?
Not very often, right?
So, ideally, you’ll want to rank on the first page of Google results, and with the first few spots if possible. The top five organic search results account for 67.60% of all website clicks from search engines. If you aren’t appearing within these first five spots, then you’re probably not getting much traffic from search engines.
A good SEO strategy gives you a higher chance of ranking for keywords, which in turn increases organic traffic to your website. And the best part is that organic traffic is free. So, it’s definitely worthwhile!
So, what is an SEO agency or company?
An SEO agency will partner with you to optimise your website, improve search visibility and ultimately drive more traffic to your website.
However, as with all marketing efforts, it should help to drive leads, sales and ultimately revenue for your business. And if it’s not, then it’s not doing its job properly.
But, there are some problems with SEO agencies that mean it won’t have an impact on your bottom line in the way that it should.
Related content: 11 Reasons You’re NOT Ranking in Google & How To Fix It
What are the main problems with SEO companies?
When it comes to SEO we’ve been there done that and got a lot of happy customers to prove it. We’ve provided SEO services in the past alongside our web design business, and now include it as part of our SEO blog writing & management service now.
So it’s safe to say that we know how to ensure that your website and content rank highly on search engines.
However, we’ve also seen the ugly side of SEO, so know what to look out for when finding a company. And we think that it’s something that you need to be aware of too before hiring a company.
- They are expensive
- They don’t advise on messaging and copy
- They may not produce content
- Reports can seem overwhelming
- Difficult to find a reliable company
- Can take a while to see results
- May not be honest about search volume
- They don’t practice what they preach
- They guarantee search engine results
So, let’s get into it…
1. SEO agencies can be expensive
Did you know that Jammy Digital wasn’t our first foray into the world of business?
Years ago we started a business selling cushions and soft furnishings on the internet. We invested every last penny that we had into building a website. And then, once the website was live…tumbleweed. Absolutely nothing!
Because we weren’t getting any traffic to our website, and so weren’t making any sales.
When we asked our web designer about it he told us that we’d have to spend up to £5000 a month on something called SEO 😱
You can imagine our shock, after spending all our money on our website, that now we were going to going to have to spend more money.
SEO can cost between £100- £10,000+ per month, depending on who you hire, what you need, how competitive the search terms are and the amount of work that needs to happen to get you ranking on search engines.
So, why is SEO so expensive?
A well thought out and executed SEO strategy requires expertise, time and work. Those three things cost money.
But however much you spend you absolutely should see a healthy return on investment. So yes, it may seem expensive, but if you’re getting a good ROI, that makes it all worth it, right?
Unfortunately, as we’ll explore further here, some of the issues around SEO companies mean that you might not get results even if you are paying a professional to do it every month. And this is why it’s perceived as expensive. Because of course, it’s expensive if you don’t get that money back!
Are you paying for SEO confusion?
Finally, SEO may be pricy because it can seem like a bit of a mystery. For example, SEO is (typically) more expensive than hiring a content writer, even though both will help you get better search results. The SEO industry can charge more simply because it’s more difficult to understand. Whereas with writing, people have a full understanding of how it works and may perceive it as less valuable.
Related content: 5 FREE ways to check keyword rankings in Google
2. They don’t advise on messaging and copy
The SEO is working! Your website is drowning in traffic, with loads of hits every single day. But, it isn’t resulting in any more leads or sales. 😔
What’s going on?
The truth is that there are loads of different issues that can result in failed conversions.
Maybe you’ve got a bad user experience?
Or, maybe the copy isn’t compelling enough?
Or perhaps your website looks like it was last designed in 1992 and it’s putting people off?
Traffic is great! It’s often the precursor to more sales. But it takes more than traffic to convert those potential customers into paying customers.
SEO companies often won’t mention or even think to look for any issues with the user experience or copy. Because it’s not really their problem. They want to get lots of eyeballs on your website and once they’ve done that their job is done.
However, getting people to your website and not making sales is a massive waste of money. And it’s something that a good SEO specialist should be able to point out to you.
We’ve personally turned clients away if they don’t have what’s needed to make their content and SEO work – i.e. an easy to use website that clearly shows what you do and appeals to your target audience.
3. They might not produce content for you
If you want to grab one of those coveted top spots on Google then you’ve got to create amazing content that is going to be relevant to those searches. That means you’ve got to have blogs, videos, landing pages and sales pages – filled with keyword optimised content.
The average content length of the article in the top position on Google is 2,416 words. So if you want to rank highly on search engines then you need to be producing long-form content.
SEO companies (should) know this, however, they’ll often ask you to create your own content. Alternatively content will be an added cost, on top of the £100 – £10,000/month that you are already paying. Suddenly it’s all adding up and becoming very pricey indeed.
Or worse still, they might just not mention it and they’ll focus on link building or technical SEO. As long as they are getting you more traffic they are doing their job. 🤷.
But as you know to really utilise the impact of SEO you need content. So you either need to do it yourself or pay SEO specialists more to do it for you.
This is part of the reason that we’ve bundled content and SEO all together in one package (along with a few other things). So that you are getting quality, consistent content that drives traffic and is SEO optimised.
Related content: The Biggest SEO mistakes you’re making (and what to do instead)
4. Reports can seem overwhelming
The reports that SEO companies send you every month can seem overwhelming and full of jargon 🙄
Of course, you want to know what has been done, and what impact that has had on your business, especially when you are spending money. However, it’s important that the right metrics are being reported to you – rather than ALL of them.
SEO reports can include overall organic traffic, backlinks, website speed, technical website health and keyword rankings among other things. But this might not mean a lot to you.
Speak to your SEO specialist to understand what KPIs you might need to measure, and have reported on. These might include:
- What keywords are ranking and where?
- Are we getting traffic to our website?
- Is that turning into leads and sales?
How is that affecting our revenue and profit?
5. It’s difficult to find a reliable company
Pretty much anyone could open up an SEO agency tomorrow and start selling themselves as an expert.
There is a really low barrier to entry ⛔, which is great in some respects, as it means that anyone can become an expert – even you!
However, it also means that there are a lot of dodgy SEO companies out there who aren’t qualified or experienced to deliver results to your business. This is exacerbated by the fact that SEO can seem like a total dark art to many business owners. The lack of knowledge and understanding on the business side, coupled with a dodgy SEO company means that a LOT of money can be spent with not a lot of results.
Looking for SEO agencies with good testimonials, who implement a good content and SEO strategy themselves is a good place to start.
If they can’t show that they have a successful SEO strategy themselves how are they going to do it for you?
6. It can take a while to see results
How long does it take to see results from your SEO efforts?
The magic number you’ll hear bandied about in the SEO world is 3-6 months. And that can be the case, it can take a while for SEO agencies to deliver results. Especially if they are focussing on the technical SEO aspects of your website rather than creating content.
However, one of the biggest SEO myths is that it takes 6 months to see results. When the truth is if done well it can take less than a day to rank for your chosen keywords and phrases.
We recently wrote and published a blog for a client that ranked on the first page of Google for their BIG target keyword within a couple of days. But of course, it doesn’t end there, you keep writing and publishing relevant content. The more content you create the more keywords and phrases you’ll rank for. (As long as you follow the right strategy and optimise it correctly).
There’s not a 1-month limit. Or a 3-month limit. Or a 6-month limit. If you want to be successful at SEO and content, then it needs to be part of your business forever. And you need to work with someone that is open and honest about this commitment. It doesn’t always have to be via an agency, you might eventually hire in-house, but it will always need to be a part of your business.
7. They may not be honest about search volumes
We could write a blog today about “moon exercises” and rank number one on Google pretty quickly.
We’re not just blowing my own trumpet🎺 (although we’re pretty good at creating content). It’s because the term moon exercises barely have any keyword volume – meaning no one is searching for it. This makes total sense as no one is casually joining an exercise class on the moon.
It would also make it pretty easy to write a blog that would rank highly on search engines.
But why would we bother when no one is searching for that keyword?
You might think that there are certain keywords and search terms that you want your website and blog to rank for. But they won’t always be the best terms, and sometimes SEO companies won’t be upfront about the search volumes of those keywords.
Recently we did some keyword research on behalf of a client. They were optimising their website and content for the name of their service followed by the word ‘partner’.
But actually, their audience didn’t use the word ‘partner’ they used the word ‘consultant’. And there was a vast difference in search volume (less than 10 searches a month for ‘partner’ and over 600 searches a month for ‘consultant’).
That’s why keyword research is essential and finding an SEO & content specialist who will be honest about what you need to be ranking for in order to grow your business is crucial.
8. They don’t practice what they preach
Found an SEO agency that doesn’t rank for any of the keywords in their industry?
It’s an ongoing joke (especially in marketing circles) that your own business comes last. SEO companies aren’t paying themselves, and so sometimes their own SEO comes after client work.
Which is totally understandable to an extent. However, if they aren’t doing any of the things they are suggesting that you do then you’ve got a problem. Not only does it make you question the effectiveness of their SEO strategies, but it calls into question their expertise and qualifications.
Your SEO company should be creating content that is optimised for search engines, and that is ranking for the relevant keywords.
If they can’t do it for themselves, how are they going to do it for you?
9. They guarantee search engine rankings
Unless an SEO company owns Google, they can’t guarantee rankings!
Of course, they can show you examples of client work and how their SEO strategy was implemented, and the results that it had. They can show you testimonials from existing clients. But they cannot guarantee that you will achieve the same.
Google can be a fickle little beast, that changes on a whim. And in addition, you’re competing against competitors in your industry and have no control over what they post.
So no one can absolutely guarantee that you’ll be ranking in the number one spot for every single keyword. And if they are – run the other way.
Should you hire an SEO agency? (and how to find a good one)
So, after telling you all the problems with SEO you might think they are the devil 😈
Are we saying that SEO is useless and shouldn’t be invested in?
As SEO specialists we know just how crucial a good SEO strategy is to the success of any business. However, it’s just part of the success puzzle, not the entire picture, and there are many other things that you need to think about.
But, the truth is, if you are spending thousands on a fancy SEO strategy every month and you’re NOT creating quality, consistent content, that is speaking to what your customers are searching for then you might be wasting money🤷.
Rather than spending thousands a month a better place to start might be with a good, SEO optimised, content strategy. This will help you rank on search engines as well as build trust with potential customers and convert them into paying customers.
So, what should you look for when looking for a company to help improve your website SEO?
- Companies that create content for their clients and themselves
- Ones that don’t guarantee rankings
- Are honest with you about what to expect, and the best way to get there
- Companies that don’t use stupid jargon
As part of our SEO Blog Writing & Management package, we do ALL the work for you including planning, writing and optimising for SEO. And we do all this for a very reasonable price if you are looking for a complete package that will take everything you need into consideration.
If you want to see how your current blog is ranking on the six key components, then take our blog quiz now – and see where you need to improve and more importantly how.