Search is overwhelmingly important for almost any website. When you think about it, the search engines directly affect everything that has ever been published on the Internet. A website like Wikipedia.org would not stand a chance to be as big as it is today if it wasn’t for the search engines. When was the last time you went to Wikipedia to search for an article? Me neither.
According to SemRush, Wikipedia gets more than 1,500,000,000 visits a month from Google just in the USA. Yes, 1.5 billion clicks every month from less than 5 percent of the world’s population!
Inspired by these numbers, a lot of online entrepreneurs start searching for the best search engine optimization (SEO) agency they can find for their startup/company. They interview a few different agencies, come up with ‘tough’ questions for them and eventually choose one. Then they wait for a month and nothing happens. When they ask for information about what has been done to increase the rankings, they receive a ‘report’, which essentially says nothing. The agency needs more time, they think. Three more months pass and still nothing. This lasts for as long as the founders can put up with it. Afterwards they search for a new agency and usually end up in a similar situation.
Why is it so tough to find an agency that performs well? A few main reasons:
- SEO is very complex. People have heard terms like ‘white-hat,’ ‘black-hat,’ ‘backlinks,’ ‘on-site optimization,’ etc. and they think they have it all figured out. However, SEO is way more sophisticated than most people think. That is exactly why it is easy to acquire a client even if you have mediocre or no skills (because the clients know nothing about it).
- SEO is by definition unpredictable and ever-changing. That is completely true and a lot of ‘experts’ exploit that to their advantage. “We need more time” is the best argument one can ever say to an unsatisfied customer. So it is extremely hard to know whether it’s time to fire the agency or simply wait for the results to come.
- Wrong agreements. The agreements usually state the agency has to achieve these rankings, increase traffic by that much, and so on. There are a few fundamental flaws with this: no agency in the world can promise you a particular position in the search results nor can they promise an increase in traffic by x%. What’s more, if you agree to achieve specific results within a timeframe, the agency might be tempted to employ some fishy techniques (acquiring links from private blog networks, over optimizing specific pages etc.), which might eventually get your website penalized.
What would be my advice to anyone who wants to increase their Google rankings? Learn as much as you can about SEO. If you do not want to do so, find somebody to oversee all of your optimization efforts (somebody who is really good at it and whom you would trust).
If that does not work out, I’m afraid the only option for you will be to hope to get extremely lucky and find an agency that will really care about your company’s success and employ the best tactics. And you will not know until you know about what they are actually doing with your website, since you won’t be able to check it yourself.
As for me, I strive to be as good as I can in SEO, since it’s the best customer acquisition channel for our company. And whenever we employ an agency to help us out at ChameleonJohn.com, we agree on specific tasks they have to do (e.g. write content, connect us with influencers in our niche etc.) as opposed to paying them a fixed fee.