About a year ago we lost one of our biggest clients.
We worked with them on a pay-per-call model: instead of a flat SEO contract, we only got paid when our SEO campaigns generated new jobs for them. In the end we generated way more calls than they could handle, and they decided to put their SEO on pause for a while.
Last month they gave us a call to tell us their phones had stopped ringing. Long story short, they had replaced us with a cheap SEO company that had done real damage to their website.
I’m not saying that the cheap SEO company didn’t do as good of a job as us–I’m saying that the client would have been better off hiring no one at all.
If you think that sounds crazy, here are just a few of the ways a cheap SEO can ruin your business.
1. Bad Links Can Lower or Eliminate Your Rankings
One of the biggest SEO ranking factors is the links that point to you site.
These links can and do come from anyhwere: you might have several from Facebook, from bloggers, from an event you sponsored, or from your city’s chamber of commerce. In general, if you’re competing with another business, whoever has the most high-quality links from the most high-quality sites will win.
Here’s the problem:
Google will never tell you exactly which links they consider high quality. They have general guidelines when it comes to all sorts of links, but they don’t go into a lot of detail. That’s completely intentional. Keeping things vague makes it harder for people to game the system.
When you hire a cheap SEO company, their tendancy is to build the cheapest links possible.
Some cheap SEOs don’t care about the quality of their links, while others use cheap links that they think will fool Google. Others are just plain clueless and will build any link they can to your site, just to show you that they’re doing something.
Sometimes those links even help your SEO—for a little while. If you eventually get enough bad links, though, several things can happen.
If you’re lucky, those bad links won’t do anything at all. your site will just sit there while you pay for a whole lot of nothing. If you’re a little less lucky they’ll trigger an “algorithmic penalty,” is a fancy way of saying that Google automatically determined you have too many bad links. If that happens, your site’s ranks will fall and you’ll get a lot less traffic.
If you’re really not lucky, the bad links will trigger a “manual penalty,” which means someone who works for Google saw all your bad links and pushed a big red button. If this happens, your site will basically disappear from Google for months. If you ever want to fix it, you’ll have to go through all of your links, attempt to remove the bad ones, document it, and send all of your documentation to Google in a document called a disavowal file. It’s a long, painful process, which is where there are some SEO companies that just specialize in fixing manual penalties.
2. A Cheap SEO Company Could Sell Links From Your Site
If you’ve got a decent sized site that ranks well, it’s possible that your cheap SEO company could start selling people links from your site. If Google catches on, they’ll punish your site until you can get it sorted out.
And if you’ve never tried to get Google support on the phone before, have fun with that.
3. Cheap SEO Companies Publish Bad Content that Makes You Look Stupid
If you hire a cheap SEO company, sooner or later you’re going to see some bad content on your site. Maybe it’s barely legible and written by the cheapest writer they could afford. Or maybe it’s stolen from another site, with or without a few small changes.
Either way, your visitors are going to notice when your service pages are full of fluff and your blog posts read like Mad Libs. It’s hard to take any company seriously if they struggle with English.
Google will notice too. They have a specific piece of their code just for it, called Google Panda. Once there is enough bad content on your site, Google Panda will punish it and kill most of your traffic.
4. Bad Technical SEO Can Ruin Your Site in A Million Different Ways
Did you know that there’s a checkbox in WordPress that makes your site disappear from Google? Neither did that cheap SEO company you hired, who hired an even cheaper employee to do their grunt work.
That is just one of many ways you can completely ruin a website’s ability to rank in just a single click. If you want to know a dozen more, just say the word.
5. Cheap SEO Companies Might Just Take Your Money and Run
I’ve seen clients who’ve worked with cheap SEO companies for months and got nothing out of it. These kinds of companies usually overdo the reporting, going great lengths to show you just how many blog comments they posted in your name or how many Web 2.0 properties they built links from. Half the time their “efforts” had zero effect on their clients’ websites. The other half of the time, they didn’t even do any of the work they talked about. They just kept cashing checks for as long as they could get away with it.
And that’s not the worst that can happen. Some cheap SEO companies will even go after their past clients after severing ties, engaging in wide scale defamation with dire consequences.
Has A Cheap SEO Company Damaged Your Business?
Let us know below in the comments.