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SEO for Growth

Two Truths & a Lie: How to Spot BS Expert SEO Consultants

How do you ensure that you hire an SEO consultant who will do right by your company? What red flags should you look for? We tell you what to watch out for.

5 mins read time
Haley Kuehl
Haley Kuehl

Mar 14, 2023

So your company’s website is buried on page 27 of Google search results and you’ve been told that investing in an expert SEO consultant is the step you need to take to move your website up to page one.

But how do you choose the right expert agency? How do you ensure that your chosen person or agency will help your company? Will they just take your money and leave your website buried, or worse yet, will they implement sheisty SEO tactics that lead to Google blacklisting your website and not listing it in search results?

Here are some common shady promises to be aware of and why.

Promising Fast Turnaround

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to research the right keywords that are appropriate for your company to rank for. It then takes further time to implement on-page SEO for those keywords on your website. After that, it takes additional time for Google and other search engines like Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc., to crawl and index your revised pages. There are other steps as well, but just be sure to know that any expert SEO consultant that promises “get listed at the top of Google search results in 30 days” is lying.

Guaranteeing First Page Google Results

It’s impossible to guarantee something when you don’t have control over it. Google and other search engines control where your website is listed in results, not the marketing SEO experts. While on-page and off-page SEO tactics help, it's ultimately up to Google. So beware of an SEO expert who promises or guarantees that they can get your website ranking on the first page of Google. 

Some super-shady "experts" may even choose keywords that have nothing to do with your company if they know they can achieve a high ranking in the SERPS. This will NOT bring your company better traffic or more qualified leads because the search terms have nothing to do with your products or services. 

Google warns against aligning yourself with any company or person who guarantees first page ranking. “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google,” it says in its Beginner SEO Documentation page. They also warn companies to “beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings.”

What a good expert SEO consultant CAN guarantee is a BETTER ranking than before you began working with them. 

Claiming Insider Google Knowledge

Google holds its algorithm secrets close to the chest. Any prospective SEO expert who claims to have “insider information” on how Google’s ranking algorithm works is not being truthful.

Does Google release hints on what each new search engine update entails? Yes. Does any layperson who is NOT a programmer at Google know EXACTLY how the new changes are going to affect Google SEO rankings? No. So beware of anyone claiming anything to the contrary. 

Not Revealing Their Techniques or Mentioning Old Techniques

Be sure to ask your prospective expert SEO consultant for their plan of action to better your website’s SEO. If they refuse to tell you, that’s a red flag. If they mention any older techniques that are now considered “black hat,” do NOT sign that contract.

Techniques to be aware of are:

  • Invisible keywords
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Purchasing backlinks

Invisible keywords: This involves the SEO expert placing keywords at the top of web pages that are the same color as the background of the page. Search engines crawling the website will see them and use them in rankings, but they aren’t visible to anyone visiting the website.

keyword stuffing


Keyword stuffing: This involves placing the same keyword over and over again throughout a web page in an overwhelming manner and in a way that doesn’t make sense when you read the text of the web page. 

Purchasing backlinks: Having many other web sources link to your website shows your authority in your industry and increases your SEO rankings. PAYING someone to link to your website, however, is frowned upon by Google and other search engines. There are many online properties that exist expressly to receive money and link to other web pages. Search engines are now aware of these and this tactic, so utilizing these sites will cause your website and company to be penalized, not rewarded by search engines.

Utilizing any of the above techniques is a definite no-no for Google and other search engines and can not only negatively affect your search engine ranking, but they can also get your website banned from being ranked altogether. 

SEO reporting2


Providing No Tracking or Results Reporting

A huge red flag when seeking out an expert SEO consultant is when they don’t offer up results tracking/reporting as part of their SEO package. How do you even know they did what they said they were going to do if you don’t have any documentation of what exactly they did? Should you just go on their word alone that they provided your company SEO services? No, absolutely not.

The best SEO experts provide regular results tracking and reporting. SEO companies should be transparent about the progress of your SEO campaigns. They should detail the keywords they are targeting, where they implemented those on page, what their off-page strategy includes, and show evidence that all of this was completed and when.

The reports should also show the ranking changes for your web pages over time so that you can see the growth or decline from their implemented SEO tactics. If you are seeing none of this, we suggest you find a new SEO expert to ensure you get what you’re paying for.

It's important to have patience when it comes to search engine optimization because, as previously mentioned, SEO is a challenging game between the hidden and ever-changing algorithms and the marketing experts who are trying to help your business climb to the top of the rankings. The rules are always shifting, new web content is always being added, competitors are entering the game, and expert SEO consultants are trying their best to manage it all. 

If you are looking for assistance with your company’s SEO, First Page Strategy would love to be your guide. Our experienced staff stays on top of all algorithm changes and industry shifts and knows how to work with our clients to increase their website rankings. 

Grow Your SEO  The right SEO strategy can drive thousands of qualified leads to your site.  We've grown organic traffic by 400% and revenue by 300% for clients – see what  we can do for you.  Learn More

Haley Kuehl

After getting her start in teaching, Haley fell in love with SEO because it let her combine two of her favorite things: writing and getting nerdy with data and code. She now has more than 12 years of SEO and inbound marketing experience with clients ranging from small ecommerce brands to huge associations and SaaS companies.

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