I wanted to write about this for a long time since in the past 3 to 4 months I started receiving numerous messages from SEO agencies that were trying to sell their services. This is because I started managing numerous websites and started doing SEO work on them. Most of the messages I received were horrible.
Here’s the hard truth:
Most people that talk about SEO suck at SEO!
I talked to, most likely, hundreds of “SEO specialists” in the past 5 years and I only personally met 5 people that knew what they were talking about. Two of them were actually public relations specialists. They understood SEO a lot better than the “specialists”.
Most people that do SEO at the moment have moderate success. They use a mix of tactics that are simply really low grade. The only ones that have long-term clients are those that work with some local businesses that cover a very small, niche market, one that is not competitive. I am not even going to talk about all the black hat that is still used and disguised as being white hat.
Why Do Most SEO Companies Suck?
Well, most agencies do not even know they suck. This is because SEO is easy to sell. Most businessmen and site owners out there do not know much about it. Before you hire an SEO agency to work on your projects you have no excuse not to at least know SEO basics. Also, do not fall victim to those outrages SEO claims the scammers use to trick you.
These bad SEO agencies manage to get some results. This is normal since even a minor change like adding some bullet points to an article can help the page climb a few places in rankings, especially when the page did not even appear in the top 100 till then. Those smaller results are the true problem since they create two big problems:
- The SEO agency actually thinks that it does good work
- The client keeps paying as things are better than before
Since nobody actually realizes there is a problem, ignorance steps in and problems are inevitable.
The Owners Of The SEO Agencies Suck
I first figured this out when I got my first actual SEO job with an SEO agency. Now, I do not even have that job on any CV.
Most SEO agencies out there are run by people that do not know SEO.
These owners are just interested in business and profits. It is very hard to find an owner that is not money hungry and that does not want to make as much money as possible. This is a very dangerous way to look at business in general and particularly damaging to SEO.
The reason why it is dangerous is the mentality of doing ANYTHING to keep clients happy and charge them for it.
Here’s an example: For a local SEO agency it is not that difficult to get good results at the local level. The businessman behind the agency sees good results and then wants to expand to the larger corporations or to other markets. What they eventually figure out is that the complexity of a large SEO project is overwhelming for what they have access to. Results do not appear and the blame is almost always put on the staff when the truth is the business owner was pushing for more sales and profits when the agency was not actually ready for expansion.
For Most SEO Agencies, Google Sucks
Are you looking for a clear signal that an SEO agency sucks? Here it is:
The agency is afraid of every new Google update.
This is highly worrying for me because it is also a sign that the SEO agency knows that it is doing something wrong. When you do not use black hat SEO or shady tactics there is absolutely no reason to fear a Google update.
I am always happy when I hear about a Google update and I cannot remember any of them that caused drops in the sites I worked on. There was only once a problem and it appeared with that agency I talked about before. I told the project manager that ranking drops will come because of what they were doing with a client but everything was about the money and what worked fast. The client was lost and I just quit when the official position of that project manager was that there was no way to see it coming.
I freakin’ told him that it will happen!
Most SEO Agencies Do Not Know Marketing And PR
Google’s goal with the search engine is really simple:
Offering search results that are as relevant as possible for the user.
All ranking updates done are related to this. Most SEO agencies out there have little to zero knowledge of PR and marketing.
Why is this important?
In order to offer what people want you need to understand their thought process. You need to know what a need is, what a want is, how to communicate and a whole bunch of other things. You cannot guess what someone wants and this is what SEO agencies do: they are guessing.
The success of modern SEO is dependent on marketing and PR. I personally always go one step further and say these things:
- Search engine optimization means optimizing the website and other resources for suitable search engine visibility – This is actually mostly technical.
- Promoting a website means giving visitors what they are looking for – This is where quality content steps in.
- Getting high rankings means PROVING the page offers what people look for
Google needs to see indicators that people actually find what they are looking for on the website. This is where knowledge of PR and even research step in.
Most SEO agencies build content based on a formula. They stick to it and do not change it. You most likely already heard things like “x% keyword density”, “adding keywords in headings”, “adding keywords in ALT tags”, “having articles that are at least X words long” and so on.
All of the things that these bad SEO agencies say are based on the case studies done by people that actually know SEO and that offer the information needed to identify what happens in the industry. They adapt to what others say without actually understanding it. They fall back to the technical side of SEO.
Do not get me wrong! The technical side of SEO is highly valuable. You need to know it. There is no way around it. However, what makes an SEO specialist good happens after that. All the technicalities are naturally taken care of. Then, something extra is done. I will not get into that as the subject is way too broad. The idea is that there is much more to good SEO than these technicalities.
Most SEO Agencies Disappear – Because They Suck
This is just the truth. Think about the names of the SEO agencies you got in touch with in the past and how many you remember. Then, see if they are still around.
These bad SEO agencies seem to blame everyone and anyone. They eventually change their name, start something new, move to another industry and who knows what else?
Speaking about Neil Patel, the tagline to his website is “Helping You Succeed Through Online Marketing”. He was among the first to understand that SEO is not just about the backlinks, densities and all the other technical things. He started analyzing websites he was working on to see user behavior, patterns, what worked, what did not work and a whole lot more. He understood the value of content marketing in the modern digital world.
I am blabbing on and I can keep talking about it for a long time. Let’s touch on such extra topics in a future post.
The key takeaways to remember about SEO agencies in general are:
- Most SEO agencies Suck – They do not really know SEO and will disappear
- SEO without marketing does not work
- SEO without PR does not work
- You need to know at least the basics of SEO before you hire an SEO agency to work on YOUR projects
- Google updates are a great thing for SEO
- Speaking with the owners of the SEO agencies is useless – You want to talk with the people that will actually do work on your site
Your site is your business. Be smart! Do your own SEO or hire in-house staff/trustworthy freelancers for small projects, until it is time to hire an SEO agency. Keep a close eye on what the SEO agencies do and check to see if the high-authority SEO community recommends that or not.