Business is down, you’re desperate, and then you get a friendly email from a stranger, claiming they work with all your allies and competitors, and that they boosted their rankings on Google and Bing. They want a nominal one time fee of $5,000 and only $500 a month for miscellaneous maintenance. Adjusting for how much money they think you have, of course. It’s a boondoggle, a scam, smoke and mirrors.
Their entire business is based on cross marketing. Once they bait one, they’ll use them to market to others. “All these competitors can’t all be wrong,” you may think to yourself. Their forte is creating reports and customer service, if they are “good” they’ll install random useless plugins on your wordpress site or print out some excel reports from semrush. None of it makes a difference, all of it gives the appearance of accomplishing something… a boondoggle.
There may be some small benefits to adding a keyword here or there to your website… nothing a $100 an hour upwork freelancer from india couldn’t tell you in 30 minutes. Nothing you couldn’t learn from a quick read of Google’s SEO document. Think about it from Google’s perspective, should a company that’s been in business for 15 years, gets lots of backlinks and lots of “good” clicks on their search page be ranked first? Or should a company that’s relatively new, has very few backlinks from reputable sites and doesn’t regularly post viral content be listed first? The most useful result should and will be listed first, regardless of meaningless meta tags, keywords and calls to action you put on your page. See how algorithms work for an interesting summary of how modern computer algorithms think.
The people you normally depend on for their expertise may not speak up, they may see it as a fight not worth fighting. If they know anything about politics, they know not to pick fights unless they need to. Everyone is surrounded by yes men, to a degree. So how can you protect yourself when you’ve already pulled the trigger on SEO consultants, or if it’s a train you can’t stop? It’s simple, track them. Use serps, semrush or the free keyword position Tool to get reliable position checks. Make a spreadsheet and put it on a high visibility location. If you can’t be bothered, and you’re already paying 5 digits for SEO, invest ~$100 dollars in semrush or serps to keep them in check automatically.
Keep your eyes open.