8 Ways To Avoid Hiring A Bad SEO-Web Design Company
8 Ways to Avoid Getting Ripped Off By Unscrupulous Digital Agencies
As with hiring any company, you need to do your due diligence before hiring an online marketing company for healthcare professionals, such as an dental SEO agency, website designer, or a digital marketing agency that offers multiple online advertising services. While there are many good reasons to hire an online marketing company, hiring the wrong company to do your SEO, marketing, or website could be a costly error.
Today we are going to talk about some ways that you can vet your potential digital partner and ensure that you don't get taken for a ride.
Fortunately, as long as you know what to look for and what to avoid when hiring a digital marketing agency, it’s easy to prevent yourself from getting ripped off by dishonest marketers. Read on to learn the most important things you should do before hiring a marketing agency or web designer.
1. Beware of too-good-to-be-true claims
One way shady “marketing firms” snag unsuspecting clients is by making spectacular claims or guarantees – guarantees, which, they of course never follow through on. Be wary if you are offered any of these false promises:
- We’ll increase your traffic with thousands of unique links! Some companies promise to increase hits to your website by providing many thousands of (low-quality) links to your site – even though Google now penalizes sites that promote themselves this way. (If you have been suckered by this kind of scheme in the past, you need to use Google’s disavowal tool to disregard those bad links to your site.)
- Our services are completely free of charge! This is a big red flag that the solicitor in question is just trying to collect your personal information and does not intend to offer you anything in exchange. (As in zero, zip, zilch, nada.) Some legitimate agencies do offer things like rebates and free trials, but just make sure you read the fine print on those to make sure the deal is really as good as it seems.
- We’ll get you on the first page of Google… guaranteed! – No company can offer a complete guarantee of first page ranking. They can, perhaps, guarantee an improvement in your rankings, but no company possesses the kind of control they would need to guarantee every client first-page ranking.
2. Find out exactly what they will do for you
Be sure to get an idea of how the agency will produce whatever results they’re promising, whether that’s improving your search rankings or repairing your online reputation. Agencies who say things like they have a “secret formula” for achieving results probably aren’t doing much of anything at all – or worse, they could be doing black-hat SEO, potentially causing search engines to blacklist your site.
For example, if the agency intends to increase your search rankings using SEO, find out what techniques they use to this end. There’s no need for you to understand anything too technical here, but you should know whether they plan to do SEO content marketing for doctors or if they will just optimize your website for SEO. Ideally, they should use an ongoing approach that encompasses both content marketing and website optimization.
You’ll also want to find out if the online marketing company performs services such as optimizing your social media accounts. After all, statistics indicate that 42 percent of consumers look up reviews for healthcare providers on social media. So if you’re a healthcare provider looking to bring in new patients through online marketing, it’s certainly a good idea to go with an agency that does social media optimization and online review management.
3. Check their social media accounts and reviews
Not only should your prospective marketing company optimize your social media accounts and review profiles, but they should also have active and professional-looking profiles themselves. After all, how are you going to trust a company to improve your online presence when they can’t even fix their own?
Starting with social media, in addition to checking to see if they have an updated, engaging Facebook page and presence on Twitter, you’ll also want to check their reviews on Facebook. Take a look at the conversation about this company on Twitter and Facebook. What are people saying?
Yelp and Google + are other sites where you should see plenty of positive reviews for the agency in question.
If the company does strictly web design with no additional marketing services, it is understandable if they don’t have a stellar social media marketing campaign. However, they should still have good reviews on sites like Yelp and Google +, and you better believe that they should have an excellent company website!
4. Make sure their rates are reasonable
To make sure you’re getting a good deal, you’ll want to check the agency’s rates against those of companies offering comparable services. Keep in mind that unless you need a one-time job, such as building or redesigning a website, you will probably be paying a monthly fee.
Wait, you said monthly? That’s right – SEO isn’t a one-and-done kind of job. It requires ongoing work and the results appear gradually over time. So, make sure you’re getting a fair rate, but also make sure you have some space in your budget for a monthly charge.
Note that if an agency offers incredibly cheap rates, this is a sign that the kind of work is nothing to write home about. High-quality SEO may require a greater investment, but with a little time and patience, it will pay for itself, and then some.
For more insight into the cost of SEO for healthcare professionals, check out our blog post, How Much Does Dental SEO Cost?
Any reputable healthcare online marketing company understands that it takes time, money, expertise, and effort to increase rankings and will price their services accordingly.
5. Watch out for these scam warning signs
Some marketing agencies are just straight-up scams looking to phish your personal information or take your deposit and run. Here are some scam warning signs to look out for.
- You found out about this company through an unsolicited email.
- The company is pressuring you to sign up “right now” (e.g., “Sign up TODAY and we’ll waive all setup fees!” Note: There shouldn’t be any setup fees to waive in the first place. You’re not having satellite cable installed.)
- The marketing agency/web designer doesn’t use some kind of formal contract.
- The agency claims to benefit from powerful “connections,” like knowing somebody at Google.
6. Investigate their portfolio
Whether you’re looking to get your website redesigned or you just want to attract traffic to your site with SEO and content marketing, you need to make sure you see some samples of the work this company has produced as well as some customer testimonials.
Additionally, ask to speak with a reference (previous client) and talk to them about the specific work performed. In some cases, small companies that have a larger parent company will list the clients of their parent company in their portfolio, even though the subsidiary did not directly work with those clients. In other cases, agencies will do free work for a company just so they can add them to their client list. When speaking with the reference, try to confirm that they were a paying client that worked with the agency directly.
In regards to web design in particular, be sure to also investigate the websites of the clients in the agency’s portfolio, and consider it a huge red flag if the site no longer exists or the design is not the same one the web design company showed you.
7. Check their reputation on BBB, RipOffReport, etc.
Even if an agency has some good reviews and satisfied clients, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have never scammed anybody in the past. To check out an SEO agency’s reputation, run the company’s name and owner’s name through sites like the Better Business Bureau, RipOffReport, and your state’s Attorney General.
If you find negative reports in these places, that’s obviously a bad sign. It’s important to check them in addition to review sites because sometimes companies manage to suppress bad reviews on Yelp.
A couple more notes on reputation – Neither the size nor the age of a company guarantees its quality. There are many large, established companies out there that deliver low-quality services and products. Similarly, you should also take awards with a grain of salt. Sites such as TopTenReviews actually sell spots on their list. If a company brags about their awards, make sure the awards are recent and not bogus.
8. Follow these additional tips for a positive experience
- Determine what your goals are before you sign a contract. This way you can reassess the situation a few months down the road to determine if the agency is meeting them. If you’re not sure what your goals should be, get a consultation of your website and/or marketing plan from someone in the industry.
- Listen to your gut. If there’s something about the company that seems sketchy to you, even though everything checks out, find another agency.
- Read up on SEO and/or web design. If you’re looking to get your medical website redesigned or you want to build a new website, check out our blog posts 10 Tips for Success When Redesigning Your Medical Website and 10 Things to Consider When Buying Your Medical Website. Regarding SEO, start with 3 Things You Need to Understand Before Hiring an SEO Company.
- Choose an agency that knows your industry. For example, if you’re a healthcare professional, such as doctor, physician, dentist, orthodontist, etc., focus on agencies that specialize in healthcare marketing.
Choose an agency that knows your industry.
In the end, it comes down to trust. You need to make sure that you can verify that other people have had positive experiences with the agency in question and that they have performed good work in the past. Hiring an SEO company is always something of a gamble, but if you do your homework first, you’re much more likely to have a satisfying experience.
For more advice or information on hiring an online marketing company or web designer, particularly if you’re in the healthcare industry (my specialty), feel free to call us anytime!