5 Signs Your SEO Expert is a Fraud

Signs Your SEO Expert is a Fraud
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It’s simple. The higher your rankings, the higher your profits. If we have learned anything about the modern era of e-commerce, it's that rank matters. Understanding the science of search engines and convincing them to give you top billing takes intentional effort and consistency. This is why it pays to hire an SEO expert.

An SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert understands the nuances of modern search engines, like Google, that will enhance your exposure and get you more clicks. Everyone is gunning for those top spots, so you have a lot of competition. An experienced SEO expert is worth their weight in gold.

Quality SEO Experts Take Their Time

Someone worth paying for your SEO needs will take the time to understand your business and ideal clients or customers. They will develop a strategy to not only increase your search rankings, but to increase them within your target audience that will drive conversions or sales. They will optimize your entire website, decreasing load times and building links to your high-quality content. If you need more content, they will help create it to help your site get in front of potential customers.

You won’t just get random traffic, but optimized traffic that will be more likely to convert. They will take the guesswork out of the task and put in the work to raise your search rankings to get you in front of your target audience.

SEO is an Investment

Because SEO takes a lot of time and effort to start seeing results, it can be costly. Imposters have realized companies are willing to pay good money for SEO, and prey on the fact that they don’t have to show results for a while if at all to unsuspecting businesses. People with minimal understanding and mediocre operations sell their services for top dollar. Businesses sometimes only realize they are working with an amateur after spending tens of thousands of dollars and not seeing results.

It's an easy mistake to make. The average business owner has little to no experience with SEO. It is a relatively new and evolving field, so how can you know if you are hiring a true expert or a fraud?

How to Weed Out Unqualified SEO Candidates

If hiring someone to handle your SEO, start with a thorough interview. This interview should give you an accurate picture of who this person is and how successful they will be with your SEO. Keep an eye out for these five red flags indicating the person is unqualified for the role:

1. They Can't Explain Their Process

SEO isn't a secret. Anyone can get online and learn a thing or two about search engines. It is a red flag if someone won't disclose their process or tells you it is proprietary. If someone can't explain how they are able to achieve results, there is a good chance they have no clue what they are doing. Or they could be doing things that could hurt your search engine rankings in the long run, such as:

  • Keyword Stuffing–the excessive use of targeted keywords on specific pages on your site to increase rankings. It’s an old SEO tactic that search engines’ algorithms now penalize.
  • Over-optimizing Content–creating too many improvements at once, so they start to harm rankings instead of helping them.

You have entrusted this person with your company's reputation and future earnings. In return, they need to be fully transparent with you. An experienced SEO expert will educate you about how they can make you more popular with search engines. Before signing the dotted line, you should understand exactly what they will do for you.

2. They Make Unrealistic Promises

The thing about SEO is that nothing is guaranteed. Can someone increase your rankings? Absolutely. Can they promise you a top-three rank? Nope. Anyone you hire for SEO should promise results that are actually possible. A sure sign of an underqualified SEO expert is promising things that simply aren't possible.

Nothing is worse than working with someone who overpromises and under-delivers. If you are getting promises that sound too good to be true, they probably are. Let's be clear about something: SEO takes consistent work over time. SEO takes time to research and write content. It also takes search engines time to index and rank your website and build relevance on your content. It's a multi-faceted process that requires attention in multiple areas of your online presence. If someone tells you otherwise, they probably aren't very good at what they do.

3. They Have No Proof of Their Prior Work

You should first ask for a portfolio of the person's prior work. This should include data on previous clients and how their traffic increased over time to increase conversions. Or they could give you concrete examples of tracking specific keywords or search targets and how their processes helped them rank for those. Specifically, they could show you examples of their client's analytics. Regardless of how they show it, anyone who says they are an expert should have the portfolio to back it up. Ask them to walk you through their process to increase their current clients' search engine rankings.

Providing data is an easy thing for an SEO expert to do. Data is a part of the process and easy evidence that they are doing their job. They should be eager to show you how effective they are. If they hesitate to show you proof of their success, it likely means there is limited success to share.

4. They Don't Look at Your Analytics

If someone claims they can enhance your SEO without consulting your analytics, that is your sign to run. Your analytics are a key part of the SEO puzzle. A true SEO expert can read your analytics and formulate a unique strategy for your company.

Truly understanding your site's analytics is an acquired skill. Someone who fully grasps analytic data can see things that the average person can't. So not only should they be looking into your analytics, but they should be able to explain to you how your analytics will be the foundation of their SEO strategy. They should also continue to track these throughout to understand the quality of the traffic they are bringing to your website and how it has a direct business impact for you.

5. They Don’t Have Technical Expertise

A huge part of SEO is website errors. An SEO expert needs to understand the technical aspects of web development, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Somebody that’s not technical won’t be able to identify and fix errors and broken links that are harming your website’s visibility and rankings. SEO experts with technical backgrounds will also be better equipped to adapt to algorithm updates and implement new strategies that align with the latest best practices.

Bonus Redflag: They Use AI-Generated Content Blindly

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is relatively new, and there are instances when it can be wrong or inaccurate. AI also struggles citing sources. When your trust and credibility go out the window, especially for niche industries like medical or financial businesses, this can destroy rankings.

AI has a place, and it can be helpful for content-generation. However, it should be used with caution. Right now, search engine algorithms reward unique, quality content.

Your SEO Expert Should Also Keep You Informed

Even though you outsource your SEO, you still want all the juicy details. Choose someone that brings you up to speed by providing regular updates. Your SEO company should be reaching out periodically to show you what they have done and how your analytics reflect their work.

With that in mind, good SEO takes time. They may not have anything to report in the first few months of working with you. Slow, consistent progress is a good thing. While you won't see results overnight, it's fun to celebrate the small victories along the way. If an SEO service does not offer this, you want to find someone who can put their money where their mouth is and prove that their approach works.

A legitimate SEO expert for hire will be transparent about their processes and use the most up-to-date SEO methods. They should understand your business, your targets, and how search engines have progressed over time. They will make data-driven insights and ensure their strategies will help, not hinder, your rankings. The quality of your content matters, and a true professional is aware of this. Partnering with an SEO expert is an exciting step for your business. It is just the beginning of your journey to more organic traffic, conversions or sales, record profits, and future growth.