5 Ways to See if Your SEO Agency is Ripping You Off - Andrea Lynn Drake, LLC

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5 Ways to See if Your SEO Agency is Ripping You Off

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Let’s face it. The internet is a massive place. If you were to take a 3D map of the world and compare it to the web, the world would be miniscule, by comparison. You could probably argue that there are more bytes of data online than there are stars in the Milky Way. Add to that the influence that all of that information has on people all around the world, and you might notice something. The majority of the media online is designed to convince users to do something. “Something” could mean anything. In fact, it almost literally means everything.
A-computer-with-a-robber-on-the-screen-ripping-off-SEO-clients-Andrea-Lynn-Drake-LLC-honest-SEO-expert-in-Tucson-AZ

Why Does the Internet Exist?

Start with a Google search of the heading just above this sentence.

“Dear Google; why does the internet exist?”

This is what you get… Actually, to be more accurate, this is what I get.

You, whoever you are, will get something slightly different. In fact, you might get a completely different first page of search results.

More importantly, take a look at the grayed out text just above the first result.

In 2 milliseconds over a half-second, Google came up with two-hundred and fifty-four million results.

When I clicked on the blue link that actually had my question, I got this:

Mr. Sherman makes a very important point in answering this question. The internet was designed to be robust enough to survive a nuclear war.

Imagine that. The world on fire and all that’s left is cockroaches and the internet.

What Does Nuclear War Have to do With SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is the practice of making adjustments to an individual’s or entity’s website, as well as off-site resources, with the objective of increasing their visibility in search results. Off-site resources include social media, Google My Business, and a host of other items.

Put more simply, an SEO’s job is to make their client show up in the first three of 254 million search results. For perspective, there were 126 million people living in Japan in 2017. The job of an SEO agency is to make 2 residents of Japan easier to see than everyone else.

Given that challenge, not anyone can do SEO. It’s a career field that requires at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify.

This all boils down to one simple fact. Just because someone says they run an SEO agency, doesn’t mean they’re any good at it.

Furthermore, at a cost of anywhere from $500 to $60,000 every month, it’s worth checking their references. You shouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive, and you should never hire an SEO agency until you know they’re worth the money.

5 Ways to Know You’re Getting What You Pay For

Here are five easy ways to double-check that the SEO you’re paying for is actually worth the cost.

  1. Is Google Maps in the Footer of Your Website, and on Your Contact Page?

    Below is an embedded Google Map.

    That’s Andrea Lynn Drake, LLC, in Vail, Arizona, a suburb of Tucson. Hover over it with your mouse and scroll. In one direction or another, you will see that the map zooms in and out. And, no matter how far you scroll out, that little red marker will still be there.

    If you don’t have a red marker on a map just like this one, you’re missing a big opportunity. More importantly, your SEO isn’t worth the money.

  2. Is Your Copyright Year Correct?

    This probably sounds petty, but it’s a sign of true SEO capability. It’s sort of a secret of the trade, because who looks at your copyright?

    If your answer is Google, you’re right on the money. This is a little detail that people don’t look at, but search engines do. And they judge your site for it.

    As an example of what this should look like, at the bottom of every page on andrealynndrake.com, there is the following:

    If you scroll to the bottom of every page of your site, that should be there. Of course, it should have your company’s name, but we wouldn’t argue if you wanted to give us love.

  3. Is Your Google My Business Listing Completely Filled Out?

    First of all, if you don’t have a Google My Business (GMB) listing at all, it should be because you don’t do business at your address. For details on whether your business is eligible, or not, check the GMB guidelines.

    Assuming that you have a GMB listing, you should make sure that every last field is filled out. This includes the supplementary ones, because the more you have on there, the easier it is for the internet to see you.

    It should look something like ours. I would attach an image, but it would be longer than this article. In lieu of that, click here to see ours.

    • Business name
      • Your business name should be exactly the same as it is on your website. In short, if they don’t match, Google will think they’re different. (More on this in the next section.)
    • Address
      • Again, this should match your business’s street address exactly.
    • Latitude and longitude
      • It may sound like an odd, extraneous detail. Who cares about your latitude and longitude? As a matter of fact, this little tag goes beyond Google, and search engines. Ever heard of Wikimapia? If not, check it out. It’s really cool.
    • Primary phone
    • Additional phones
      • If you have an 800-number, or an answering service, or something of that nature, list it here.
    • Website
      • This is another detail that, if it’s not on your GMB, warrants immediate termination of your SEO agency. Like, “leave the article bookmarked and take the trash out,” kind of termination.
    • Primary category
      • This doesn’t really allow much of a choice, since Google requires a primary category when you create your listing. However...
    • Additional categories
      • Does your business do more than one thing? Are you a law firm with multiple practice areas? There should be categories added for anything that can be here.
    • Hours
      • You business hours, including holiday hours, and any special information about these hours, should be in here.
    • From the business
      • This is actually your business description. It should be filled with every bit of important information. And, it should be well
    • Opening date
    • Photos
      • This shouldn’t be the four pictures your mom took when she saw your business for the first time. There should be regularly posted images of your business, your employees, your product, ads… everything about your business captured in a picture should be in here.
    • Labels
      • This is how you list locations, and add any important keywords that will draw attention to you. Don’t get carried away, but it should have the most important details in it.
    • Google Ads location extensions phone
      • If you’re using Google Ads, the phone number shown on your ads should be on here. This is yet another small field that can make a difference.
    • Attributes
      • Unlike labels, attributes should be keywords describing added features of your business. This can be things like a wifi hotspot, or self serve checkout.

    If every one of these fields isn’t filled out, your SEO could be skipping steps, or not know that they missed them. (It’s more likely that they’re skipping steps, since Google has all of these fields laid out.)

  4. Does Your Address Match Exactly on Your Website, and Your Google My Business Listing?

    As I just addressed above, this is another critical bit of information. It’s also one that’s overlooked on a regular basis by less-than-preferred SEO’s.

    This doesn’t just mean that your business name on Google, and the one on your website, should be close. What I mean is, letter-for-letter, space-for-space, period-for-period. Every last detail should match.

    The reason for so much emphasis on this may or may not be obvious, but let’s look at it, just to be sure.

    Google, as I mentioned, has enough information to put every library in the world to shame. That includes the names and addresses of most places on the planet.

    If you have a business name that’s even similar to a neighbor, you can easily get lost in the shuffle. And your website, well, it just doesn’t look the same to Google.

    So, if your business is called “Happy Times Toys, Inc.,” and a business in your city, even on the opposite end of town, is named “Happy Tim’s Toys, Inc.,” there can be confusion. Google will take those two names and try to figure out which one is most relevant to a user’s search.

    One of the best places to do that is to look at the website in both listings. If your GMB says “Happy Times Toys,” but your website says “Happy Times Toys, Inc.,” that small difference is enough to shuffle the probabilities.

    As silly of a detail as that sounds, it’s just a nuance of human language that computers haven’t mastered yet. (Give it time.)

    More importantly, an SEO should know this already. It should be a point of fact that they have committed to memory, because it will make a difference in your search results. It’s that simple.

  5. Does Your Title Tag Have Your Geographical Location in It?

    Your Title Tag is one of many metadata that should be on your website. If you take your mouse and hover your cursor over the tab at the top of your page, the title should appear.

    In the example above, note that the client’s city is named in the title tag. Furthermore, it’s formatted to include the client’s primary keyword, “Charleston Personal Injury Attorney.”

    If you haven’t guessed already, search engines look at the title tag of your page. When someone performs a search, the results are based, in part, on relevance.

    For The Hartman Law Firm, LLC, his site will appear to anyone in the Charleston, SC area.

    Once again, if your SEO agency hasn’t done this one small step, they’re missing a very important opportunity. It’s easy to add this detail. It has an important influence on search results.

    Ultimately, your SEO is failing you if they haven’t added your geographical location to the title tag.

If These Issues Are Familiar, You’re Probably Getting Ripped Off

Good SEO isn’t cheap. With the influx of online marketing “experts,” the learning curve for businesses is steep. Understanding the technical components that set them apart from their competitors is supposed to be the job of their marketing agency.

As the gap between common knowledge and internet technology grows, more room is being made for errors. The paradox that’s making everything more automated, is also the problem with the online marketing industry.

For additional perspective, imagine the difference between a good software and a not-so-good software. There are quality indicators that tell you when something is worth paying for, or not.

As an example, the user interface may be unattractive and awkward to use. Things as simple as the formatting of buttons, or the organization of the tabs at the top of the window, can quickly indicate whether it’s a quality product, or a shoddy attempt at a functioning program.

Identifying a website with low or high aesthetic standards is also fairly intuitive. If it looks good, it looks good. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’s that simple.

The challenge with SEO is that there can be 100 or more problems that no one can see, and the business owner is usually none-the-wiser. Over time, the only indicator that their website isn’t making the grade is whether or not they’re getting more online traffic since hiring the agency.

Well done SEO can take months to show significant results. Therefore, there’s a great deal of room for error by less experienced marketers.

Are You Getting Ripped Off by Your SEO Agency?

If you’ve checked the items listed above and found an issue, there’s definitely a lack of knowledge, and/or concern, by your SEO agency. They may be openly ripping you off, or they’re making claims about their services that aren’t true.

It’s not my intention to say that every SEO agency that isn’t doing things correctly is being openly dishonest. They may have simply gotten in over their head. Maybe their quality control measures are lacking attention to detail.

As an SEO marketer that’s been doing this for more than 20 years, I’ve seen almost everything. There are numerous SEO agencies that simply don’t know what they’re doing.

I’ve worked for some of these agencies and when I told them what they needed to be doing, they often put in half the effort necessary to fix their client’s issues. At that point, they’ve stepped across the line of ripping their clients off.

5 Ways to See if Your SEO Agency is Ripping You Off

Let’s face it. The internet is a massive place.

If you were to take a 3D map of the world and compare it to the web, the world would be miniscule, by comparison. You could probably argue that there are more bytes of data online than there are stars in the Milky Way.

Add to that the influence that all of that information has on people all around the world, and you might notice something. The majority of the media online is designed to convince users to do something.

“Something” could mean anything. In fact, it almost literally means everything.

Why Does the Internet Exist?

Start with a Google search of the heading just above this sentence.

“Dear Google; why does the internet exist?”

This is what you get… Actually, to be more accurate, this is what I get.

You, whoever you are, will get something slightly different. In fact, you might get a completely different first page of search results.

More importantly, take a look at the grayed out text just above the first result.

In 2 milliseconds over a half-second, Google came up with two-hundred and fifty-four million results.

When I clicked on the blue link that actually had my question, I got this:

Mr. Sherman makes a very important point in answering this question. The internet was designed to be robust enough to survive a nuclear war.

Imagine that. The world on fire and all that’s left is cockroaches and the internet.

What Does Nuclear War Have to do With SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is the practice of making adjustments to an individual’s or entity’s website, as well as off-site resources, with the objective of increasing their visibility in search results. Off-site resources include social media, Google My Business, and a host of other items.

Put more simply, an SEO’s job is to make their client show up in the first three of 254 million search results. For perspective, there were 126 million people living in Japan in 2017. The job of an SEO agency is to make 2 residents of Japan easier to see than everyone else.

Given that challenge, not anyone can do SEO. It’s a career field that requires at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify.

This all boils down to one simple fact. Just because someone says they run an SEO agency, doesn’t mean they’re any good at it.

Furthermore, at a cost of anywhere from $500 to $60,000 every month, it’s worth checking their references. You shouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive, and you should never hire an SEO agency until you know they’re worth the money.

5 Ways to Know You’re Getting What You Pay For

Here are five easy ways to double-check that the SEO you’re paying for is actually worth the cost.

1.   Is Google Maps in the Footer of Your Website, and on Your Contact Page?

Below is an embedded Google Map.

That’s Andrea Lynn Drake, LLC, in Vail, Arizona, a suburb of Tucson. Hover over it with your mouse and scroll. In one direction or another, you will see that the map zooms in and out. And, no matter how far you scroll out, that little red marker will still be there.

If you don’t have a red marker on a map just like this one, you’re missing a big opportunity. More importantly, your SEO isn’t worth the money.

2.   Is Your Copyright Year Correct?

This probably sounds petty, but it’s a sign of true SEO capability. It’s sort of a secret of the trade, because who looks at your copyright?

If your answer is Google, you’re right on the money. This is a little detail that people don’t look at, but search engines do. And they judge your site for it.

As an example of what this should look like, at the bottom of every page on andrealynndrake.com, there is the following:

At least, that’s what is (or was) there in 2019. We literally change it every year on the first day of January.

If you scroll to the bottom of every page of your site, that should be there. Of course, it should have your company’s name, but we wouldn’t argue if you wanted to give us love.

3.   Is Your Google My Business Listing Completely Filled Out?

First of all, if you don’t have a Google My Business (GMB) listing at all, it should be because you don’t do business at your address. For details on whether your business is eligible, or not, check the GMB guidelines.

On a side note, if your business can be on GMB, and it isn’t, you should set your SEO agency on fire. (Not literally.) Fire them, right now.

Assuming that you have a GMB listing, you should make sure that every last field is filled out. This includes the supplementary ones, because the more you have on there, the easier it is for the internet to see you.

It should look something like ours. I would attach an image, but it would be longer than this article. In lieu of that, click here to see ours.

The information your GMB has will vary, but the following fields should be filled out, no matter what.

  • Business name
    • Your business name should be exactly the same as it is on your website. In short, if they don’t match, Google will think they’re different. (More on this in the next section.)
  • Address
    • Again, this should match your business’s street address exactly.
  • Latitude and longitude
    • It may sound like an odd, extraneous detail. Who cares about your latitude and longitude? As a matter of fact, this little tag goes beyond Google, and search engines. Ever heard of Wikimapia? If not, check it out. It’s really cool.
  • Primary phone
  • Additional phones
    • If you have an 800-number, or an answering service, or something of that nature, list it here.
  • Website
    • This is another detail that, if it’s not on your GMB, warrants immediate termination of your SEO agency. Like, “leave the article bookmarked and take the trash out,” kind of termination.
  • Primary category
    • This doesn’t really allow much of a choice, since Google requires a primary category when you create your listing. However…
  • Additional categories
    • Does your business do more than one thing? Are you a law firm with multiple practice areas? There should be categories added for anything that can be here.
  • Hours
    • You business hours, including holiday hours, and any special information about these hours, should be in here.
  • From the business
    • This is actually your business description. It should be filled with every bit of important information. And, it should be well
  • Opening date
  • Photos
    • This shouldn’t be the four pictures your mom took when she saw your business for the first time. There should be regularly posted images of your business, your employees, your product, ads… everything about your business captured in a picture should be in here.
  • Labels
    • This is how you list locations, and add any important keywords that will draw attention to you. Don’t get carried away, but it should have the most important details in it.
  • Google Ads location extensions phone
    • If you’re using Google Ads, the phone number shown on your ads should be on here. This is yet another small field that can make a difference.
  • Attributes
    • Unlike labels, attributes should be keywords describing added features of your business. This can be things like a wifi hotspot, or self serve checkout.

If every one of these fields isn’t filled out, your SEO could be skipping steps, or not know that they missed them. (It’s more likely that they’re skipping steps, since Google has all of these fields laid out.)

4.   Does Your Address Match Exactly on Your Website, and Your Google My Business Listing?

As I just addressed above, this is another critical bit of information. It’s also one that’s overlooked on a regular basis by less-than-preferred SEO’s.

This doesn’t just mean that your business name on Google, and the one on your website, should be close. What I mean is, letter-for-letter, space-for-space, period-for-period. Every last detail should match.

The reason for so much emphasis on this may or may not be obvious, but let’s look at it, just to be sure.

Google, as I mentioned, has enough information to put every library in the world to shame. That includes the names and addresses of most places on the planet.

If you have a business name that’s even similar to a neighbor, you can easily get lost in the shuffle. And your website, well, it just doesn’t look the same to Google.

The search engine algorithm is, at its core, a huge statistical calculator. (This is a gross oversimplification, but useful for our current needs.) Common statistical models operate on probabilities.

So, if your business is called “Happy Times Toys, Inc.,” and a business in your city, even on the opposite end of town, is named “Happy Tim’s Toys, Inc.,” there can be confusion. Google will take those two names and try to figure out which one is most relevant to a user’s search.

One of the best places to do that is to look at the website in both listings. If your GMB says “Happy Times Toys,” but your website says “Happy Times Toys, Inc.,” that small difference is enough to shuffle the probabilities.

As silly of a detail as that sounds, it’s just a nuance of human language that computers haven’t mastered yet. (Give it time.)

More importantly, an SEO should know this already. It should be a point of fact that they have committed to memory, because it will make a difference in your search results. It’s that simple.

5.   Does Your Title Tag Have Your Geographical Location in It?

Your Title Tag is one of many metadata that should be on your website. If you take your mouse and hover your cursor over the tab at the top of your page, the title should appear.

In the example above, note that the client’s city is named in the title tag. Furthermore, it’s formatted to include the client’s primary keyword, “Charleston Personal Injury Attorney.”

If you haven’t guessed already, search engines look at the title tag of your page. When someone performs a search, the results are based, in part, on relevance.

For The Hartman Law Firm, LLC, his site will appear to anyone in the Charleston, SC area.

Once again, if your SEO agency hasn’t done this one small step, they’re missing a very important opportunity. It’s easy to add this detail. It has an important influence on search results.

Ultimately, your SEO is failing you if they haven’t added your geographical location to the title tag.

If These Issues Are Familiar, You’re Probably Getting Ripped Off

Good SEO isn’t cheap. With the influx of online marketing “experts,” the learning curve for businesses is steep. Understanding the technical components that set them apart from their competitors is supposed to be the job of their marketing agency.

As the gap between common knowledge and internet technology grows, more room is being made for errors. The paradox that’s making everything more automated, is also the problem with the online marketing industry.

For additional perspective, imagine the difference between a good software and a not-so-good software. There are quality indicators that tell you when something is worth paying for, or not.

As an example, the user interface may be unattractive and awkward to use. Things as simple as the formatting of buttons, or the organization of the tabs at the top of the window, can quickly indicate whether it’s a quality product, or a shoddy attempt at a functioning program.

Identifying a website with low or high aesthetic standards is also fairly intuitive. If it looks good, it looks good. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’s that simple.

The challenge with SEO is that there can be 100 or more problems that no one can see, and the business owner is usually none-the-wiser. Over time, the only indicator that their website isn’t making the grade is whether or not they’re getting more online traffic since hiring the agency.

Well done SEO can take months to show significant results. Therefore, there’s a great deal of room for error by less experienced marketers.

Are You Getting Ripped Off by Your SEO Agency?

If you’ve checked the items listed above and found an issue, there’s definitely a lack of knowledge, and/or concern, by your SEO agency. They may be openly ripping you off, or they’re making claims about their services that aren’t true.

It’s not my intention to say that every SEO agency that isn’t doing things correctly is being openly dishonest. They may have simply gotten in over their head. Maybe their quality control measures are lacking attention to detail.

As an SEO marketer that’s been doing this for more than 20 years, I’ve seen almost everything. There are numerous SEO agencies that simply don’t know what they’re doing.

I’ve worked for some of these agencies and when I told them what they needed to be doing, they often put in half the effort necessary to fix their client’s issues. At that point, they’ve stepped across the line of ripping their clients off.

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Andrea Lynn Drake, LLC is a premiere Digital Marketing Agency, specializing in Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Management, and Increased Traffic Volume. We only hire American. Never outsourced; always honest. This is the home of true SEO.

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