When I say that everything you do both online and offline can be leveraged for SEO, I mean it! Recently, the company that owns the office building where my SEO firm has its office told us we had to move out to another property several towns over. We had 30 days left in our old office. Naturally I balked at being moved, especially on such short notice. I had meetings with clients, both current and potential, employees (myself included) were taking long scheduled vacation days, deadlines were coming up—all the nonnegotiable things that come with running a business. Surely they couldn’t really make me move in 30 days?
As it turns out, they could. In the lease I had signed, one of terms stated that the leasing company had the right to move me and my business to a comparable office space with 30 days notice and I couldn’t do anything about it. I had signed a contract and was stuck with the terms as they were.
So what does this have to do with SEO?
There are a lot of black hat SEO firms out there looking to take advantage of an unsuspecting site/business owner. They can tell when you don’t know what you are doing and are going to exploit your inexperience to their advantage. They might just take your money and disappear into the online void; they might overcharge and under-deliver; they may flat out lie to get your business. Site owners—pay close attention to who you are working with!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask colleagues about the SEO agencies they’ve worked with. Check out online reviews of potential SEO partners to make sure no red flags pop up. Do a Google search on any SEO firm you are looking to hire. What kind of information is in the SERP? Keep in mind that an SEO firm with no online presence is probably just as suspect as one with a negative online presence. An SEO company that doesn’t know how to get their own site ranking well in the search engines? What can they possibly do for your site?
As the situation with the building landlord developed, I took my own advice and dig a little digging. Turns out I was not the first small business owner that had run into the same situation! I jumped the gun too quickly and didn’t pay close enough attention to the fine print of the lease I had signed, and so now I’m dealing with the fallout.
Don’t let the same thing happen to you when it comes to SEO! You shouldn’t hire any SEO company or consultant without making sure they are a legitimate, white hat company that is actually going to do good work for your business. Otherwise, you might end up having to hire a new SEO agency to clean up the mess left behind from the first one.