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SEO for Growth

How to Spot a Scammy SEO Consulting Service

Not all SEO consulting services have your best interests at heart. Here's how to tell the sketchy ones from the legit ones, so you don't get conned.

6 mins read time
Haley Kuehl
Haley Kuehl

Jan 10, 2024

Search engine optimization is a powerful thing, and brands that practice it properly can enjoy more traffic, conversions, and revenue as a result.

But the unfortunate truth is that the SEO world has a dark side, and there are plenty of untrustworthy contractors and businesses who claim to be SEO experts — but are far from it. 

If you're not sure if your SEO consulting company is legit, we can help. Here are five tips for spotting scams in the world of SEO.

In This Article:
5 Signs of Scammy SEO Consulting Services
What a Gold-Star SEO Consulting Service Can Do For You
Don't Give Scammy SEO Consultant Services Your $$$

5 Signs of Scammy SEO Consulting Services

When you're shopping for a new SEO consulting service (or evaluating your current one), there are a few red flags that you should keep an eye out for. 

1. Guaranteed Results

SEO stands for search engine optimization, not search engine control. As such, SEO consultants can only optimize their clients' content with the goal of achieving desirable results — not guarantee those results from the get-go.

If an agency starts making outlandish SEO guarantees or promises that sound too good to be true, then, unfortunately, they probably are.

For example, scammy SEO consulting services might promise:

  • Millions of new visitors
  • The #1 spot on Google.
  • 1000x more sales
  • Incredible outcomes for rock-bottom prices

Unlike promises of general improvements, those types of fantastic and ultra-specific results are simply impossible to guarantee — and SEO consulting companies that make those promises are best avoided. 

2. Insider Information

Outside of search engines themselves, everyone has access to the same SEO-related information. No SEO consulting company will have secret insider tips that another reputable agency shouldn’t also be privy to. 

For instance, when Google makes a major change to the way its algorithm works, they don't just tell a select few SEO experts and keep everyone else in the dark. Instead, they let everyone know about it at the same time via posts on the official Search Central Blog and other channels.

When Google posted about their May 2022 core update, for example, they included details about how long it will take to roll out, changes site owners can expect, and where webmasters can leave feedback or comments:

google-may-core-updateSo unless your new expert SEO consultant also happens to be Google's head of search (spoiler: they're not), then they won't be able to provide you with any insider information. And if they say otherwise, that's your cue to walk away.


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


3. Obsolete Tactics

Modern search engines have only been around for a couple of decades, but they've changed a lot over the years. That's why it's important to be wary of SEO consultants who say they use outdated tactics — if they do, they probably don't know how to optimize for current algorithms.

Outdated tactics you want to steer clear of include:

  • Link exchanges in which your website links to several other websites solely to obtain backlinks from them in return.
  • Keyword stuffing in which your website is crammed full of as many high-volume keywords as possible in a way that doesn’t necessarily make sense or add value to your visitors.
  • Writing for keyword density, a ranking factor that Google no longer uses.
  • Over-using keyword-rich anchor text, such as in a large-scale guest posting campaign.

Since that's just the tip of the iceberg, be sure to research other outdated SEO tactics before committing to an SEO agency.

4. No Track Record

All SEO consultation services worth their salt have a provable track record, and that's true whether they have 10 months or 10 years of experience. Think twice about SEO consultants who claim to be seasoned pros but don't have the experience to back it up. 

Even if it's just for a couple of websites, an expert SEO consultant should be able to show you how they've:

  • Increased high-quality traffic, demonstrated through conversion rates and revenue coming from organic search
  • Driven higher rankings for the primary keywords your target audience is searching for
  • Identified and targeted the most relevant keywords

They may even be able to show you how they've improved lead generation or boosted a company's overall revenue.

The point is, if they know what they're talking about, then they should have the record to prove it. If they don't, it's time to start shopping around.

5. Focus on Short-Term Returns

We'd all love it if we could generate stellar results tomorrow, but that usually isn't possible, and SEO is no exception.

It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for Google to crawl your newly optimized pages, so it stands to reason that legitimate SEO consultants won't dwell on delivering fast, short-term results.

Instead, they'll work with your team to create a long-term SEO strategy you can keep track of as you go.

While you may not be able to get mind-blowing results this week, reputable consultants will help you see marked improvements in a matter of months. And most importantly, those improvements will last.

And if an SEO consultant tells you they can get you to the first page of Google in a few days, that's an SEO scam you (and your bank account) can't afford to ignore.

What a Gold Star SEO Consulting Service Can Do For You

Navigating the world of SEO can feel complicated and confusing — but with the right SEO consulting service, what once felt overwhelming turns into a journey of streamlined growth and success for your brand. 

A legitimate and skilled SEO consulting company doesn't just tweak a few keywords; it transforms your online presence, ensuring your brand not only survives but thrives in the digital landscape. Since 75% of people will never go past the first page of Google search results, having a trusted SEO guide to optimize your content and help you rank is more important than ever.  

Here's what a top-notch SEO consulting service can offer:

  • Tailored SEO Strategy: Develop a customized SEO plan that aligns with your company goals and target audience, maximizing your online visibility.
  • Improved Organic Traffic: Attract higher quality traffic to your website, leading to better engagement and conversion rates.
  • Competitive Analysis: Offer insights into your competitors' strategies and help position your brand more effectively in your niche.
  • Content Optimization: Assist in creating content that not only resonates with your audience but also aligns with search engine algorithms.
  • Technical SEO Improvements: Identify and fix technical SEO issues on your website that could be hindering your search engine performance.
  • Regular Analytics and Reporting: Provide detailed reports and analytics, offering transparency and insights into the performance and ROI of your SEO efforts.
  • Long-Term Growth: Focus on sustainable SEO practices that ensure long-term growth and avoid any penalties from search engines.
  • Continual Updates and Adaptation: Keep your SEO strategy up-to-date with the latest search engine algorithm changes and trends.
Remember, a credible SEO consultant is your partner in digital growth, guiding your brand to not just meet, but exceed its search potential over time. 

Don't Give Scammy SEO Consultants Your $$$

There are unscrupulous SEO consultants and companies out there, but that doesn't mean you have to buy what they're selling.

If you know which warning signs to look for, you can weed out the scammers and find trustworthy SEO consultants capable of delivering truly amazing results. 


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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