10 Signs an SEO Agency is making false promises

It’s 2017, and maybe that’s the year your business takes the plunge and hires an SEO agency.
There is an endless list of benefits that a business can gain from using SEO. When you’re just starting up and looking to contact the right SEO agency, it can all be a bit overwhelming. They all make these huge promises, how do you know which one will actually deliver results? One way to figure that out is knowing the warning signs, and the false promises agencies will make to gain clients.


Here’s some promises SEO agencies will make that you should look out for:

1. “Guaranteed” results

Unlike other products, SEO agencies generally don’t guarantee results. There are a few valid reasons for this:

  • Search engines warn against it: Google specifically mentions in its guidelines on search console help about guarantees, stating “no one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.”
  • Take into account local SEO: Rankings aren’t exactly stable, and won’t appear the same from one geographic location to the other. That’s where local SEO comes into play. If I were to Google “SEO agencies” in Brisbane, that result is going to differ if I was in Sydney. The number one spot will be different, and therefore cannot be guaranteed.
  • It causes ethical problems: Some companies can guarantee results. SEO, not so much. SEO companies can offer the best advice, or increased traffic, but they can’t 100% guarantee something, as they cannot completely control it.

Although the word is used less and less in regards to SEO, make sure to be very wary if you see an agency promising “guaranteed results.”

2. Fast results


Just like with guaranteed results, be wary of agencies who brag of fast results. Sure, you might want to see the results the next day, and it seems like an enticing offer, but SEO doesn’t work like that. SEO results take time. You have to gain trust with search engines, build credibility and produce high quality content. None of that is going to happen overnight. In an ideal world, you’d be able to measure results instantly. With SEO it pays to be patient.

3. Free trials

Unlike products or services, say such as Netflix, SEO is not something you can try, decide you don’t like it, and then unsubscribe one month later. If a company does offer a free trial, you’re definitely not going to get an idea of all the services they really have to offer to achieve SEO results. And as we just established, achieving results takes time. You’re not going to see results within the timeframe of a free trial. Achieving SEO results takes a lot of work. It’s not something any legitimate agency is going to offer for free.

4. Know someone at Google


Networking is generally a good thing, and it sounds impressive to say you know someone at Google. After all, if the agency knows someone at Google, won’t you be able to achieve faster results and higher rankings on search results? Wrong! No SEO company has a special relationship with Google. Google’s guidelines state “there is no priority submit for Google.” The only way you can submit a site to Google correctly is through the Add URL page or by submitting a sitemap. You don’t even have to know someone at Google to do this, or even hire an agency. You can do this completely for free.

5. Secretive strategies

If you’re working with a legitimate SEO agency, they should be able to tell you exactly what they’re doing for you and your website. There is no secret strategy that they can’t divulge to you. A legitimate agency will be completely transparent. If they’re not, they’re probably not undertaking in the best practices, and could end up even been banned from Google.

6. Search engine submissions

There are many tools and agencies who will claim they undertake search engine submissions. Basically, this will submit your website to thousands of directories. But when you think about it for a few seconds, why do you really need to be in all of those directories? Most people will only use Google, Bing or Yahoo. Can you even name any other search engines? No? Then why bother spending money putting your website on any other directory? It’s best to just avoid this practice altogether.

7. Knowing a Google algorithm


Just like knowing someone at Google, chances are an SEO agency also won’t know specific algorithms. Google has complex algorithms, and are far more complex than search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. These algorithms are also constantly updated. An SEO agency isn’t going to be able to know these algorithms. Sure, an agency’s job is to know about aspects of the algorithm – link popularity, content, meta tags – but they’re not going to know it all. A legitimate agency won’t even need to promote their knowledge of this anyway, it should just be a given.

8. Lowest price guarantee

SEO isn’t like some discount store. With SEO, you get what you pay for. As mentioned previously, achieving SEO results takes a lot of time and effort. If you’re not paying an agency much money, chances are they’re not putting a lot of effort into your campaign. You’ll end up spending your money and achieve very little results. It’s best to avoid SEO agencies that use automated software and spend more money on an agency who will achieve the best long term results for you and your business.

9. Software that will optimise your website


Some SEO agencies will offer you software that will fully optimise your website, and therefore earn you a page one ranking on Google. That’s not exactly how SEO works. There isn’t some magic tool you can install to improve your rankings. You can use a combination of themes and plugins that will improve the aesthetic and functionality of your website, and therefore improve your search engine results ranking. Google also warns against using software that will track your ranking in it’s search results. And most of the time, these tools end up being useless. Stick to installing themes, plugins, and use ranking tools such as Google Analytics.

10. We need to install this link  

Any legitimate SEO agency will never need to install a link on your website. If anything, they’re just admitting their strategy is a link exchange program. Worst case scenario, that link is malicious, and now the agency has full access to your website. And you paid for it all! If any agency is installing some link and you don’t fully understand why, run as fast as you can.

Just remember the age old saying – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That is particularly the case for SEO agencies. SEO takes a lot of work, and results will not be achieved quickly or cheaply. You pay what you get for, and with SEO it’s definitely worth forking out a little extra for a legitimate agency that will produce actual results.