How to Get Rid of Smoke & Mirrors with SEO Agencies

SEO and digital marketing agencies provide a critical service in today’s rapidly changing marketplace. And yet, a wide variety of vendors make big promises and do very little.

My intention is to inform consumers in how to hold your SEO/digital vendors accountable. In that spirit, here are a few warning signs and suggestions in getting the most for your investment:


1. When we started they didn’t ask for anything.
Excellent SEO is not the great (or little) Oz behind the curtain. At the very least a good SEO agency ask for the following when they initiate service:

  • Access information to website, social media, and any analytics accounts.
  • Initial lists of targeted keywords
  • Previous SEO campaigns (if any)

If the agency doesn’t ask for anything during the initial stages of an SEO campaign than this could be a big red flag. Some services simply post your website to a variety of “spammy” secondary websites which only provides an illusion they are doing their job.


2. My vendor doesn’t provide any information
The SEO agency should not only give results in rise in rankings, but they need to show you the actual practices they are using to produce results.

Two to four months into the SEO campaign is a bit early to provide meaningful SEO results, so don’t panic if you don’t see top results your were anticipating on.

In this time frame your SEO agency should be working on building your SEO campaign.

But, at minimum they should provide the following deliverables:

  • A SEO website, social media, and email campaign audit
  • A comprehensive analysis of your website’s link profile and links from other sites pointing to your site
  • Optimized content and structure on your website


3. They don’t provide answers to my questions.
Curiosity should never kill the relationship between you and your SEO agency. If you have a question on what they are doing, the agency should provide a transparent answer.

The following should be warning signals of SEO scams:

  • Our practices are proprietary and we do not disclose them.
  • Our efforts are confidential with our clients.
  • This is too complicated to explain to you.

Proper SEO involves using industry wide best practices that are tailored to the client’s needs.


4. They don’t provide any suggestions for you to improve.
If a SEO agency is not providing you feedback on how you can improve your content then they might be doing something suspicious or nothing at all.

Unrepeatable SEO agencies will use automated processes that point a bunch of links to your website in hope that it will yield high traffic numbers. They don’t want to interact with you instead they want to give you something that makes you think enough traffic is coming to your site.

Great SEO agencies work closely with their clients and have their best interests in mind. Any strongly effective digital campaign is based on a partnership and continual collaboration between the client and the digital agency.


5. Our website traffic fell off a cliff.
Within the first few months of your SEO campaign your website traffic suddenly drops off more than 80% this could be suspicious of your website receiving an algorithmic penalty from search engines.

This may or may not be your SEO’s fault but it raises enough suspicion to ask questions. Start asking if there were any changes made prior to the drop off and get an accurate idea of what was done offsite from your SEO agency.


Great SEO campaigns involve agencies engaging with their clients as business partners to provide meaningful results. Success Media Services offers effective and transparent services in SEO and Digital Marketing.

Many of our clients began by asking us for an audit of their current SEO practices. If you would like to get rid of smoke and mirrors, give us a call. We are here to help.

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