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When a business owner signs on with a digital marketing agency, it’s usually because of one of three reasons:
- They want help growing their business
- They need a more robust web presence and lack the in-house resources
- They need a good SEO company to fix all the mistakes their previous SEO agency made
That final reason is the one that should concern you the most because it’s actually EXTREMELY common. At this very moment, there are hundreds of companies just like yours that chose the wrong digital marketing agency—and they’re just now picking up the pieces of a damaged web presence.
Whether you’re just starting digital marketing or you’re looking for a new digital marketing agency because yours sucks, there are five mistakes you should avoid at all costs:
- Falling for shiny packaging
- Falling for “secret sauce” pitches that seem too good to be true
- Choosing cheap digital marketing
- Choosing a local company specifically because they’re local
- Not doing your research
I promise, you’ll have a much better experience—and much better results—if you ditch those five habits and choose a reliable SEO company.
Top 5 Mistakes Companies Make When Hiring a Digital Marketing/SEO Agency
I told this SEO horror story on the Blue Corona blog a couple weeks ago, and I’m bringing it back up because it’s so relevant:
“I remember one specific client who came to us after a particularly bad breakup with an SEO agency.
It was awful. Their previous Charlotte SEO company wouldn’t release any historical data, wouldn’t give us access to their Facebook page, and even pulled their website because the client didn’t technically own it (yes, that’s a thing).
So, with no historical analytical data, no social media presence (we eventually got that sucker back), and no website, the client was absolutely desperate—and on the verge of a mental breakdown—when she came to us.”
That story isn’t unique, and our sales team hears similar ones all. the. time. Usually, companies with these types of problems made one of the following mistakes when they chose their digital marketing agency:
Mistake 1: Falling for Shiny SEO Presentations
This is a big one, and one that’s really easy to fall for. You should have learned not to judge a book by its cover back in elementary school, so dig up those skills and put your critical thinking hat on. The theory is, if a digital marketing agency creates these beautiful, high-tech marketing pitches for you, you’re going to get the same for your customers.
That’s rarely the case.
SEO agencies that drop a lot of cash into their own sales presentations usually spend less time and effort on their actual clients. Think about it—every company has finite resources, so how they allocate their budget says a lot about their priorities. How many of their employees are in sales vs. client services? For example, 95 percent of Blue Corona’s staff is devoted to client services. If I were you, I’d choose the company with an army of experts instead of an army of salesmen.
Now, it’s normal to get blinded by shiny things. But when you see these shiny marketing presentations, take a deeper look—what’s the content saying? Is it full of jargon? Is it thin? Are you being lured into a bad decision by smoke and mirrors?
Mistake 2: Falling for “secret sauce” pitches that seem too good to be true
Piggybacking off of the first mistake, the second mistake also involves a lot of smoke and mirrors. If you find yourself leaning toward a digital marketing agency that brags about their “secret sauce” or “proprietary SEO tactics,” run. Don’t walk. Don’t amble. Run as fast and as far away as you can.
Here’s why: There is no “secret sauce” of SEO. The SEO process is well documented and well-understood by thousands of experts across the globe. The only difference between a successful campaign and one that flops is strategy and execution.
In life, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
In digital marketing, if it seems too good to be true, it ALWAYS is. Don’t get sold on empty promises—look for an SEO company with a proven track record of results that matter.
Mistake 3: Choosing a Cheap Digital Marketing Agency
With digital marketing, you get what you pay for. End of story.
Most cheap SEO services use black-hat techniques like paid links, cheap content, and keyword-stuffed optimizations. Google has caught on to most black-hat techniques and you have a higher chance of being penalized than succeeding with these tactics.
If you’ve fallen in love with a digital marketing company you can’t afford, ask if they’ll do consulting so you’re at least getting the expert advice.
Mistake 4: Choosing a Local Digital Marketing Agency Just Because They’re Local
You don’t need a local digital marketing company. No matter what anyone tells you, a good SEO agency should be able to dominate your local market no matter where they are located. The beautiful thing about the web is that it can be accessed from almost anywhere, which means you aren’t limited to local SEO companies.
It is true that there’s nothing quite like face-to-face interaction, so we prioritize in-person meetings and invest in flying our account managers out to our clients on a regular basis. Find an SEO company that cares enough about your business to come to YOU.
That being said, do not sign on with a foreign SEO company unless your target market is in that country. You can buy extremely cheap digital marketing services from click farms and “SEO agencies” overseas, but this will damage you much more than help you. Even if it’s a legit digital marketing company, there are way too many cultural nuances that need to be perfected in order for the language and tone to sound genuine.
Mistake 5: Not Doing Your Research
Picking the top result when you Google “best digital marketing agency in [city]” is not an effective way to pick an online marketing partner. One of the most important steps you should take is to do your research. Look at a company’s case studies. Talk to their current clients. Read their reviews. Read their blog. Does their language vibe with you? Do their clients remind you of your company? Do they have documented results similar to the ones you want?
There is nothing worse than signing on with an SEO agency only to have to switch a year later. It’s messy, it can damage your web presence, and it takes time away from running your business.
Good Questions to Ask an SEO Company Before Signing On
Before you sign on with any digital marketing agency, ask these questions:
- What process will you use to accomplish our goals, and why do you use that process?
- What is your reporting and communication process?
- What do you do when things aren’t working?
- Are you a certified Google partner?
- What’s your process for building links and authority?
- Can you show me writing, website, and ad examples?
- What metrics do you report on?
- What level of control will we have over our website?
- Can you scale these results as my business grows?
- What experience do you have working with my industry?
- Have you ever had a client with my exact problems?
- Who will be managing my account and who will be executing the work?
- What will the first 90 days of work include?
- Can you customize my services for what I need most?
- How do you go above and beyond for your clients?
Looking for a Reputable Digital Marketing Agency?
Blue Corona has a reputation for going the extra mile for our clients and getting outstanding results. No sugar-coating, no fancy jargon—it is what it is. I think my favorite way to describe our services was told to me by one of our clients: “I don’t have to babysit you and sh*t just gets DONE.”
I can guarantee that you will be 100% satisfied with your results because we focus on results that actually matter. Our ownership mentality carries over into everything we do, and it’s not uncommon for us to bend over backward in order to boost a client’s bottom line.
If that sounds like the kind of partnership you want to have, contact us to see what we can do for your business. Or, feel free to read more about why we’re legit:
About The Author: Betsy is the social media lead and a digital marketing expert with Blue Corona. When she’s not managing Blue Corona's digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring, hiking with her dog, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod