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SEO Do’s and Don’ts

Red Flags and Good Signs to Look For When Hiring a Company for SEO Houston

Here’s a warning – not every SEO Houston company can be trusted. In fact, some online marketing firms intentionally use Black Hat techniques, which can potentially destroy your site. Why would they do this? Because black hat tactics deliver fast results. The trouble is, these results don’t last long. Google’s mission is to provide users with the best search results possible. If they find that your website has been gaming the system and the quality of your website doesn’t match its search engine ranking, your site will be penalized. If this happens (and it will happen eventually), your search ranking will drop considerably, and your site might even be taken off of the search engines completely. This means that no potential clients can find your website via search.

If you’re locked into a contract with one of these shady SEO firms, you’ll actually end up getting billed for services that do the opposite of what you’re paying for. Unfortunately, a number of startups and small businesses spend tens of thousands of dollars on firms that promise to help them shoot up to the top of Google’s SERPs in just four weeks or so, often with disastrous consequences.

How can you be sure that your SEO Houston agency isn’t hurting your business?

In this article, we look at the red flags that indicate that the agency might cause more harm than good. The purpose of the article is to make aware of the fact that there are many unscrupulous firms out there, which is why choosing the right SEO Houston Firm for your business will be one of the most important decisions you will make.

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Red flags to watch out for when selecting a search engine optimization specialist in Houston

Red Flag #1: They don’t have a verifiable track record.

What can the agency show you, without some sort of disclaimer or excuse? If the firm can’t show you their SEO practices or tries to keep them a big secret, everything they say is just a lot of hot air. It’s been two months, or even three months after signing the contract. While you shouldn’t expect to see any extraordinary results at this stage, you have every right to ask the company what they have been doing with your money.

A reputable SEO Houston Agency such as Actual SEO Media can show clients exactly what we’ve been doing to improve their search engine ranking. Though massive results take time, we can prove how hard we’ve been working on your website within the few weeks! We provide:

A comprehensive search engine optimization audit of your site
Analysis of your website’s link profile
Optimized content
Articles and reputable backlinks

If you don’t know what those things are just yet, that’s okay—our SEO consultants educate clients along the way. Much like we’re doing now, we provide the information you need to make your own decisions about your online marketing services. At each consultation, you’ll learn something new about your business and search engine optimization in general. We prefer for our clients to stick around because they’ve seen what we can do, not out of fear that their or misinformation. Within just a few weeks, we’ll be well on our way to gaining trust and respect as a fair, reputable SEO Houston company.

Red Flag #2: The SEO Houston firm doesn’t ask you for anything

Any online marketing firm should ask you for the following, once they decide to take up your work:

Access to your Google Webmaster Tools
Admin access to your CMS
A list of keywords targeted by you (or at the very least, topics)
Access to your Google Analytics
Connection to your company’s social media accounts
Access to search optimization audits or work done on your website in the past
Information about the penalties that you were hit with

If your agency does not ask for any of the above, you should be very worried. It’s possible that they are providing you with backlinks from a number of sites with low repute. This allows them to create a temporary spike in your ranking on Google, but don’t be fooled. The results won’t last. Not only might you be struck with a penalty, but you can be sure that no real work’s being done.

Proper SEO is more than backlinks. It’s also more than keywords. And it’s even more than content. In fact, perfect search engine optimization requires attention to all of these details, and more. If a company doesn’t have all of the information about your website, social media accounts, and analytics, there’s really no way they can make substantial changes to your SEO. Even if they request some of this info, they’d be neglecting the other aspects of optimization. The end result is a partially-optimized website. Unless you’re paying for partial services, that’s unacceptable.

How To Avoid This Red Flag

Actual SEO Media will get all of the information that we need in order to maximize your SEO completely. You’ll still have access to all of your accounts, should you ever need them. We’ll create separate accounts, so you can easily differentiate your pre-existing content from the new articles our writers create. If you don’t have social media accounts set up for your business, our team can create those for you. This will allow you to take advantage of the ever-growing marketing influence of platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Click here to learn more about all the ways Actual SEO Media can help you grow your business.

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Red Flag #3: The firm has no ideas or suggestions; they can’t actually tell you how they are going to improve your site.

This is a major red flag. If the company you hire does not tell you anything at all about the things that need to be done and how you can improve your site, you can be sure that they are going to do nothing more than arranging for a number of backlinks from low-quality sites. Or, maybe they are only interested in your money and don’t plan to do anything whatsoever. They are just wasting your time and money. They are not even interested in interacting with you, as that would give their game away.

At Actual SEO Media, we view our relationship with our clients as a partnership, not a competition. We’re here to help you manage your business as far as marketing is concerned. We’re here for the long haul and can give you both our short-term and long-term strategy to grow and maintain your company’s online presence. Our search engine consultants will offer personalized recommendations and suggestions, which will certainly help improve your site’s position on Google’s SERPs. With your approval, we’ll employ those strategies and keep you updated along the way.

Red Flag #4: They are secretive and don’t give you any idea about what they are going to do.

This is another obvious red flag. An SEO company should be able to tell you what they are going to do. They should have no problem sharing their strategies, without going into too many technical details. However, if the agency says that they cannot share anything with you as their information has to remain confidential, you can be sure that there’s something fishy going on.

Rather than expose themselves as illegitimate, they’ll keep you in the dark, perhaps claiming that their tactics are proprietary or too complicated for you to understand. If they put you off or act condescending towards you by saying, “Oh, we do a lot of things, it would take us too long to explain. Maybe some other time…,” fire them immediately and get out of the contract as soon as you can.

The truth, which these types of SEO firms don’t want you to know, is that you can learn almost everything you need to manage your website’s SEO yourself. The reason you won’t do that is that it takes too long. Legit SEO is in-depth and time-consuming. You need to know about keyword competitiveness, web design, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, social media marketing, and more. Furthermore, with every Google, Facebook, or WordPress update, the tactics must change in order to keep your website ranked #1. You don’t hire an SEO firm because you can’t learn the concepts, you hire us because that’s not how you should be spending your time.

Avoid This Red Flag

A trustworthy SEO Houston business that follows only White Hat (Google-approved) practices would certainly explain their strategies to you. There are no real secrets in search engine optimization – it’s about hard work, following the right practices as clearly stated by Google, and staying in tune with the latest developments in search. If your agency suddenly starts acting as though they are CIA, well, you can be sure that you have invested in a scam. Just get out of there at the earliest opportunity.

Red Flag #5: You’re hit with a manual penalty

The worst thing that can happen to any website is a manual penalty from Google. You will be sent the manual penalty by email or by a notification on your Google Webmaster Tools account.

Did you receive this manual penalty within weeks or months after the agency started work on your site? Okay, this is a definite red flag. You have every right to be concerned. However, receiving this penalty doesn’t mean you should fire them straight away. It may not be their fault, so don’t jump to conclusions. It can take Google quite some time to penalize a site. If you’ve had other contractors or companies working on your SEO previously, the benefit could be the fault of any of them. Do an investigation, and only then make a decision.

Next Steps

Find out the reason for the manual penalty, and who is responsible. If the penalty was intentional or the result of the firm’s negligence or ignorance, fire the firm. Your SEO firm should stay up to date about the latest regulations regarding SEO. Furthermore, the online marketing company you hire should have all the information and access to your site that they need in order to prevent penalization. However, sometimes, mistakes are made due to miscommunication, or if you’ve switched SEO firms, “too many cooks in the pot.” Make a judgment call. If you see other red flags, its time to terminate your contract with the firm. If the firm is professional, sincere, and willing to rectify the problem right away, perhaps they deserve another chance.

A penalty can be reversed, and your website ranking can be restored, so take a deep breath. Google will tell you exactly why your website has been penalized, and your SEO firm should know how to fix it. Furthermore, they should fix these issues at no additional cost, especially if the penalty was their fault. This hiccup doesn’t have to ruin your working relationship with the firm, but it should warn you to pay more attention to the other red flags.

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Look for Good Signs

The best way to avoid any of the problems stated above is to choose the right agency. Ask questions, do your research, and hire a reliable, reputable search engine firm. Actual SEO Media is one such company that can work numbers for your business, the right way. We’re a small, local (Houston area) business that knows how to provide a personalized approach to search engine optimization. Click here to read more about the local advantage and why staying local can help grow your company to a statewide or even national company much sooner.

When you need to hire an online marketing company, stay local, don’t settle for less than the best, and call Actual SEO Media. Our track record proves that we are one of the most impactful SEO firms here in Texas. Our clients have gone on to make higher earnings, expand to multiple locations, and comfortably retire and pass a successful business on to their children.

In-House Team

Have you noticed that when you take care of marketing projects, you are indeed hiring the individuals working on the project and not the company? At Actual SEO Media, we understand this, which is why our team consists of some of the best minds in this business. Our writers are college-educated, our SEO consultants have run their own businesses (not including this one!), and our IT crew has multinational experience. Learn more about our team and what they can do for you by clicking here. We all work in-house, even the owners, and regularly hold face-to-face meetings with our local clients. The Actual SEO Media team can’t be outmatched in terms of transparency, strategy, and client satisfaction.

Commitment Without a Contract

Why is branding important for a businessOf all the things we mentioned that make Actual SEO Media the best, our competitors may boast that they provide a similar level of service. But what they can’t say is this:

We don’t make you sign a contract.

When you work with our team, you don’t do so out of obligation. We don’t use fear tactics, intimidation, or misinformation. Furthermore, we can show you proof of our past and current successes. Because we believe in our team and the services we provide, we don’t need to lock you into a contract.

Furthermore, high-quality SEO doesn’t happen on a consistent timeframe. Depending on your current search engine ranking, local and national competition, and niche, your progress might increase at a different rate than another company’s. That’s why we offer flexible, non-contractual plans. There are similar companies here offering the same services, but the quality of their services has proven to be poor compared to what we offer our clients. Our prices are both flexible and affordable for all businesses regardless of their sizes – Actual SEO Media has various packages that you can select from depending on your business’ needs. As your business grows, your plan can change with it. This ensures that you always get the exact services you need at the price you’re comfortable paying for them.

Even though we don’t require contracts, your business will have our full commitment. Here’s another thing those other SEO firms can’t tell you:

We won’t work with your competition.

Of all the local businesses in Houston, there’s bound to be at least one other company offering similar services to yours. However, there can only be one #1 in the search engine rankings. Actual SEO Media doesn’t make clients split the difference. We pour all of our strategies and competitive keywords for your niche directly into your company website. You hire the best, and you get the best. Your competitors won’t stand a chance.

Essential SEO Terms Marketers Should Know

Need Another Sign? How About Free Consultation!

The Actual SEO Media team of experts applies only the white hat services to your website. At your first free consultation of many to come, we can explain more about how we work and how we’ll help you grow your business. Not only will we turn away your competitors, but we’ll analyze their SEO alongside yours. By looking at their strengths and weaknesses, we’ll make sure to leave no stone unturned. Soon, you’ll outrank them in the search results and in the earnings. It is our philosophy that a combination of search engine optimization, link building, content management, social media marketing, and online reputation management helps clients build a brand image for their businesses and products. This will put you in direct connection with clients who are ready to pay for your services as soon as possible.

Call Actual SEO Media today at (832) 834-0661 to schedule your free consultation for SEO Houston services at our Houston Location, Houston Main Office Location, or our Williams Tower Location. We’ll evaluate your website and come up with a plan to put you at the top of all the popular search engines, for the long-term.

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