How to spot dodgy SEO companies

There is a perception that SEO (search engine optimisation) companies are merely “cowboys” who are there to fleece unknowing clients.

Whilst this is true of a very small minority of SEO companies, SEO is a legitimate service and our guide to spotting dodgy SEO companies may help you avoid common pitfalls of hiring an SEO company!

An SEO company has the power to enlarge your sales massively, or get your website banned from search engines and kill your customer base, so the need to chose your SEO agency carefully is very real.

1. Walk away if they guarantee results or tell you they are partnered with Google

“This is, simply, a lie: they are not Google partners!”

Many spam callers offering search engine optimisation will tell you they are “partnered with Google” or they are “Google partners” which means they can guarantee your website’s results in days or weeks. This is, simply, a lie: they are not Google partners!

Search engine optimisation should be a slow, organic process, with a little work often paying off in the long term. If your SEO company are offering you a “quick fix” to your rankings, the chances are they are using unscrupulous methods that could mean your website is banned from search engines such as Google and Bing if discovered.

2. Talk to their previous clients

Ask to talk to an existing client of the SEO company: ask about the client’s experience with the company and their results.

Talking to their clients is also a good way of verifying any claims the SEO agency has made to you.

3. Check their claims

Be sure to check the claims they’re making. If the SEO company claim to have got a client to the first page of Google for “blue widgets”, do the search yourself, and try and verify that the client is actually theirs!

If they are a legitimate search engine optimisation company, they should be happy for you to deal with a previous client, though they may need to keep certain details of their clients’ businesses secret.

4. Ask your web designer

If you’ve hired a web designer (see our guide to hiring a web design agency) and are looking for a separate SEO company, it’s worth asking your web designer for a recommendation, or for their opinion of the SEO companies you have short-listed. Many freelance web designers will not offer SEO but may work with, whereas web design agencies will be more likely to have a dedicated staff member who is

You might also be interested in how a web design agency can help you and what to look for in a good web development agency.