9 Red Flags To Watch Out For When Hiring An SEO Agency

search engine optimisation Jun 28, 2024
Hiring an SEO Agency

Ranking in Google is imperative when you run a business. It’s the easiest way to bring traffic and sales to your website (and it’s free to do).

The process of ranking in Google is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). It’s all the steps you take on your website and other people’s websites to earn the coveted top spot in search engines.

DIYing your SEO is very doable. You can get the bulk of it done in six weeks with very little maintenance required. You just need to know the right steps to take. We teach that in our signature SEO program SEO Made Easy (the doors are opening in a few weeks for the final time).

If you’d prefer to use an agency to get the job done, be sure you do your due diligence. We hear countless horror stories from students who have invested heavily and seen little results to show for it.

Here are our nine red flags to watch out for when hiring an SEO agency.



Your position in search engines is influenced by several factors. This means no agency can guarantee top rankings within a specific timeframe or permanently.

This is because rankings can shift when your competitors or other industry-related sites make changes to their pages. Search engines will then update their algorithm and results too.

If the agency does guarantee the top three rankings for your target keywords, this could indicate dodgy ‘black hat’ tactics to manipulate search results.

Nobody can guarantee rankings especially for competitive keywords. Instead focus on working with agency that is honest about the results they can achieve.



Some agencies use unethical and spammy black hat SEO tactics. These techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking or buying links. These practices can result in penalties from Google.

Ensure the agency you hire adheres to 'white hat' practices only. Ask them to detail exactly what strategies they plan on using on your site to achieve your desired outcome.

Be wary of agencies promising quick fixes or instant results as they may be using risky tactics. Extremely low prices or overly optimistic guarantees can often be a strong indicator that the agency may not deliver quality white hat services.



A key part of SEO is backlinks – links from other websites to yours. These links show Google that you are trustworthy and should be boosted to position one for your chosen keywords

The focus should be on the quality of the links and the relevance of the websites linking through to you not the quantity. These trusted sites are far more valuable and likely to push you closer to the top position than large quantities of irrelevant links.

If the links are poor-quality, you could get penalised by Google. If an agency is trying to sell you thousands of backlinks, be very weary. Backlinks should be earned not bought.



Each business and niche is unique and that’s why it’s imperative that your SEO services are customised for your business (and your competition).

An agency that offers a generic packaging without tailoring their approach to your specific business goals and site may not deliver the results you’re looking for.

Ask the SEO agency you’re looking to partner with how they plan to optimise your site. Ensure it aligns with what you’ve set out to achieve with your SEO.



If an SEO agency wants to go into business with you, it’s imperative that have a communication plan.

You should have a direct line of contact with the person who is working on your account. They should be in touch with you on a regular schedule with updates on your site’s progress.

Agencies that are slow to respond or fail to communicate can be frustrating to work with and may not prioritise your business especially if they have you on a retainer. That’s why it’s imperative to understand an agency’s plan for communication.

Also, as you would expect, SEO can have technical jargon. A good SEO agency should be able to explain these concepts in simple terms.



Beware of vague reporting. Each month your agency should provide a clear, detailed report of the work completed and the results achieved.

If an agency is unwilling to share their method, explain their strategies and its impact on the overarching SEO strategy, go elsewhere.



When investing in an SEO agency, always ask for case studies of past clients and references you can contact.

If you are investing a money to get the work complete, you want to properly understand what kind of businesses they’ve worked with, what their SEO goals were, if they achieved results for them and the steps they took to get there.

If an agency can’t share this information, consider partnering with someone else.



Focusing solely on rankings without considering the overall business impact can be a red flag. SEO should focus on business growth and take into account website traffic growth, engagement, conversions (particularly quality leads or sales) and your return on investment.

Before hiring an agency, be sure they understand your business goals. Their reporting should focus on achieving these targets.



A professional SEO agency should provide a clear contract outlining the services they provide, timelines, deliverables and pricing.

Be cautious of agencies that require long-term contracts without a trial period or a way to exit if you’re not satisfied with their services. Many SEO Made Easy students have fallen victim to this before finding us.



It’s imperative to have a basic understanding of SEO. Read our blog 'What It Is and Why Is It Important' to get started.

Selecting the right SEO agency requires careful consideration, due diligence and at the very least, a basic understanding of how SEO works.

Avoid these red flags to find a reliable partner that will help build your online presence and inevitably your business.

Feel free to reach out to us if you need help evaluating an SEO proposal.

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