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It Might Be Time to Fire Your SEO Company

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you ever been strung along by an SEO company that promises better performance on the horizon but doesn’t seem to deliver?

SEO is not necessarily a zero-sum game, but agencies should base performance on objective metrics that increase your ROI. On the other hand, some SEO companies like to cherry-pick their metrics and use complicated jargon to try to deceive you about your campaign’s performance. Therefore, it pays to take a step back from time to time and examine what your SEO company is doing to grow your business. 

Here are nine signs that you should consider firing your SEO company. 

1. Doesn’t ask for access to analytics of business platforms

Psychologists warn that one of the first warning signs in any relationship is if someone likes to talk about himself or herself too much and doesn’t talk about you. The first step any SEO company should take is to request access to all your analytics and advertising platforms, including Google Business Profile, Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Otherwise, how would an SEO company be able to understand your business or track performance?

If your SEO company does not report on metrics you are familiar with or utilize standard industry tools for tracking and reporting, such as the above Google properties, don’t trust its data. 

2. Doesn’t complete audit, set baselines or provide reporting

One of the first projects an SEO company should complete is the all-important audit covering technical SEO and content. Hold your SEO company accountable for any missed or sloppy work conducted after the audit, such as lack of keywords in title tags or no unique meta descriptions, and ask questions about anything confusing, especially on the technical side (404 errors, why slow speeds, etc.).  

Equally important, ensure that your SEO company can communicate prioritized action items uncovered in the audit and set baselines for goals moving forward. Examples of goals would be website purchases or sales, in-store visits, direction requests, booked appointments, form submissions, phone calls or number of downloads.

Lastly, ensure your SEO company provides monthly reports that track progress towards meeting these goals. These reports should include progress on organic stats.

The minute you allow your SEO company not to track what you are doing, the visibility goes out the window, and you are throwing your money into a black hole. You should also see a summary of deliverables and reports in a tool like Google Data Studio that are tracking against your business goals. 

Related: 7 Reasons Why SEO Matters for Every Startup

3. Doesn’t provide content for you

One of the most essential ranking factors is the content on your website, and if your SEO agency is not creating new content or refreshing any older content, question why.  

Optimizing existing content is critical for enhancing the user experience. Your content needs to answer user questions and address pain points. This, along with proper headers and meta information, will improve page performance and drive organic traffic.

However, generating fresh content can also boost your site’s rankings or help it rank for new keywords, especially if that new content is driving traffic to your website. Content is the engine of the proverbial rankings train.

Hiring an SEO company that doesn’t create or optimize existing content would be like getting a burger without the meat.

4. Chases vanity metrics 

If your company only focuses on higher volume keywords, your overall traffic may grow, but your business might not. 

The problem is that many SEO companies track useless keywords that don’t lead to conversions or grow your ROI. Without setting up proper goals for keywords in tools like Google Analytics, your SEO company is throwing a dart at a wall and hoping it sticks. 

With that said, your SEO company should report and focus on several specific tops of the funnel and mid-funnel metrics that will lead to sales, in addition to very targeted longtail keywords, including:

  • New vs. existing users
  • Demographics
  • Average CTR
  • What queries
  • What pages
  • Dwell times
  • Conversion paths
  • Number of days to conversion

These metrics tell the story of how well your content is meeting search intent and nurturing conversions that lead to business growth. 

5. Doesn’t ask about your business or its products and services

Often, your SEO company can become carried away with its research. 

Rather than focusing on products, services and landing pages that deliver your business the best returns, your SEO company will search for any opportunity to grow your organic presence. 

Don’t work with companies that think they know your business better than you or simply don’t care to learn about your business and align their marketing strategy with your business goals. 

By researching and understanding your business and the sales cycle, they learn what differentiates you from the competition. This helps in keyword selection and content-strategy roadmapping. 

Related: These 9 SEO Tips Are All You’ll Ever Need to Rank in Google

6. Has low pricing that doesn’t move the needle

Many agencies try to differentiate themselves by offering lower-priced models that claim to provide basic results without cutting corners. However, your digital-marketing partner should be your partner in long-term growth and brand strategy. 

Rather than focusing on cost, focus on value and long-term ROI; invest in an SEO company with a proven track record of success that can help you design a customized plan to meet your business’s specific needs. 

7. Has no specific plan

Always be wary of an agency that doesn’t have a plan to meet the needs of your specific business. 

Often, turnkey agencies do not tailor their list of services to your individual needs. While you can opt for the fast-food model of SEO, you should partner with an agency that is knowledgeable of your business and authoritative enough to create a comprehensive plan to grow it. 

You have to have a roadmap to understand where you are now and where you want to end up. 

Also, month to month retainers without a strong directional strategy are a red flag. You should not be reinventing the SEO strategy every month, but you should also not have a singular strategy for years and years either.

8. Lacks communication

It’s no secret that SEO agencies get quickly bogged down with client requests and projects. 

However, with that said, if your SEO agency doesn’t strive for regular communication with you, then you might be forgotten or neglected. 

Make it a point to establish regular communication with someone at your SEO agency or find an agency willing to give you the time you deserve. At minimum, there should always be weekly communication via email and a monthly meeting. You and your agency should always be on the same page. 

Related: 5 Tips for Choosing Your Next SEO Firm

9. Doesn’t ask about your customer profile

Finally, your SEO company must understand your customer base. How can an agency meet searcher intent if it doesn’t know what pain points your customers need solved? 

How is an agency even supposed to understand which keywords lead to the best conversions if it doesn’t understand the target persona of your customers? 

SEO is a long and nuanced process that will not always deliver quick results. However, your SEO agency should be following a well-defined roadmap towards success, and you should search for a partner that’s committed to your business — not to vanity metrics or quick wins that will not move the needle long term. 

If your SEO agency has given you any of these warning signs, then it may be time to fire your agency and move on.

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