How to Spot a Shady SEO Company

Shady SEO Company

Tons of companies are vying for the coveted #1 position on Google.

Together with the increasing demand to rank highly in search engine results are the increasing Search Engine Optimization services being offered left and right.

Google “SEO Service” and it will return over 4 million results.

Google search SEO Service

Every SEO company claims to be an expert, saying they can optimize your on-page and off-page.

Some will even promise to get your website on the first page of Google results in 6 months or less.

However, unless they can prove it, you really can’t tell.

You can spot a liar through eye contact. But when dealing with an SEO company, how can you tell if you’re working with the real deal?

Before I reveal that answer, let me briefly discuss what SEO is all about.

SEO is actually not that hard.

Marketing may have changed over time and you may hear about algorithm updates every now and then. But with SEO, the fundamentals remain the same. You just need to remember these two pillars of SEO:

Pillar # 1: On-page SEO

This refers to the strategies that you can control on your website. On-page SEO helps Google determine what your website is all about.

There are four things that you can base your On-page SEO strategy on:

  • SEO best practices

  • On-page SEO checklist

  • Technical

  • Relevance of content

All of these aim to check and optimize your page Title, Meta Description, Interlinking, Content, and the Alt Text for each image.

When On-Page SEO is done correctly, your company can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Get good rankings more easily—Google can better understand what your pages are all about. You can easily rank high among low-competition keywords.

  • High Click-Through Rate (CTR)—More people will visit your web page.

  • Better user engagement—You get to engage with the right people who come to your site based on the keywords or buyer intent.

  • More qualified leads are converted into your sales pipeline.

The On-page SEO is not a secret. Anybody can do it. But if everybody can do it (and they all try to do it really well), which web pages do you think Google will rank higher?


This is where link building comes in. Link building determines the authority of the website and helps Google identify which web pages should get a good ranking.

Link building is covered in Off-Page SEO, which is the second pillar of SEO.

Pillar #2: Off-page SEO

The authority of your website is determined by the “off-page” of your website. This is measured by the number of links which direct to your website.

When link building strategies are implemented correctly, your website will rank on competitive keywords and your website’s rank will get a boost, which translates into greater ROI.

Your link building efforts can build the Trust and Authority of your website. By having links that go to your site, Google won’t be able to resist giving you a higher search ranking.

Here are the benefits of having a strong off-page optimization strategy:

  • You can publish new pages and get ranked very quickly.

  • It ensures you achieve top placement in organic searches… and stay on top.

  • You’ll earn trust from visitors to your page.

  • You’ll get referral traffic from other websites.

Our company Bliss Drive created a case study on one of our clients, Carry Out Supplies.

The Carry Out Supplies Case Study

Carry Out Supplies previously had an average of 120 referring domains. You can see on the graph below that the backlinks are stagnant from May 2017 to February 2018.

AHREFS Carry Out Supplies

When we came on board, we improved their On-page SEO and ramped up their Off-page optimization.  You’ll notice a spike on the graph at around March 2018.

Currently, Carry Out Supplies has 300+ referring domains.

The increase of backlinks resulted in an exponential increase in Organic Traffic and Organic Keywords.

Organic Traffic – from 1K increased to 5K

Organic Keywords – from 2K increased to 8K

AHREF Carry Out Supplies

One of their target key phrases is “wholesale coffee cups,” which earned Carry Out Supplies the number one spot in the Google search results—appearing immediately after the paid ads.

AHREF Carry Out Supplies
Carry Out Supplies target key phrase is "wholesale coffee cups"

As referring domains increase (increase in backlinks), the Organic traffic and Organic Keywords also increase.

All the graphs above present a case that proves a properly implemented off-page SEO strategy makes a huge difference. And though it may not look that obvious, the graphs also answer the question of how to spot a shady SEO company.

So, how can we spot a shady SEO company?

  1. They can’t (or won’t) present graphs, which prove their SEO success.
  2. A shady SEO company doesn’t talk about their backlinks strategies—they refuse to discuss it or prefer not to reveal their specific strategies.
  3. They don’t use AHREFS, which is a great tool for serious SEO companies. Other companies may use tools like SEMrush and Spyfu.
  4. Their focus is on On-page SEO strategies and they are not doing much with off-page.
  5. They’re making amazing promises but not backing them up with proof.

Here’s a piece of advice: If what the company is offering you sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

SEO brings the highest ROI, right after email marketing. So, to make SEO work for you, you have to make sure you choose a professional SEO company you can trust.

Here are some things to look for when hiring an SEO company:

  1. Background: how long has the company been in the industry, who are their clients, who are the people behind the company, what are their past clients’ reviews, etc.
  2. Case studies: can they present a case study or past successes?
  3. Tools and strategies: find out how they approach their SEO campaigns


Choosing an SEO company to work with can be a challenging and confusing endeavor. Many companies offering SEO services sound pretty much the same.

Some may entice you with a lot of show and dance—always question their capability. Find out if they can really deliver.

The difference between a good SEO versus a not-so-good SEO are the backlinks that get implemented after the on-page optimization.

A good SEO company will provide both good on-page optimization and off-page strategies, which can bring your store from the middle of nowhere right up into all the action.

Learn how we can boost your company’s search engine ranking by booking a complimentary SEO Strategy Session. Give me a call now at 949 229 3454.

You can also visit us anytime at

When Will SEO Not Work for Your Business?

I was on a discovery call recently with a potential client, an international business owner.  He is in the food subscription business, and wanted to start doing some SEO.  He had been spending about $20k to $30k every month on Facebook and social media campaigns and wanted to understand how he could leverage search engine optimization to help him gain more traction and increase sales.

When I started looking at his market, we quickly realized that he’s in a business where people are not immediately looking for a subscription box service. It’s more of an impulse buy on part of the consumer.   This equates to a low demand for his solution even though it’s a good one.

When there’s little to no demand for your business or the solution your company offers, this means people are not searching for you or your business solution on Google.  It is in this case where SEO is not likely going to work in the typical way.  SEO campaigns will work, in terms of finding the key words, then binding those words that have search volume to increase rankings and get traffic. In this case, there is not one specific key word that has the ability to focus on gaining traffic.

With that said, we figured out his target audience and who would buy his subscription food service.  We then developed a content marketing strategy that would add value to his customer when they’re looking for specific needs.  We turned his target audience into a media hub for his food delivery service by focusing on consumer needs and wants.

As an advertiser, he has a product by teaming up with other companies and putting products together to sell.  Now, just by talking about their products online they will in turn advertise his product.  This way, it’s a free way for him to get traffic to his audience and advertise his product to them.  That’s going to work tremendously well for his business.

Your business may not be the typical business that has keywords with search volume baked in with demand.  That’s not to say you can’t also find your audience and target some trigger points to meet their actual needs to solve a problem they didn’t know they had.  Using campaigns or events on various scales where people are looking for specific products you work with, and then showcase your product, to get more sales that way.

Why You Should Focus on Long-Tail Keywords First and Short-Tails Later

Seo Agency banner

A great SEO campaign is shaped like a tree: thousands of small roots stem into a few big branches. The most effective websites generally don’t target thousands of highly valuable short-tail keywords and a few smaller keywords, but thousands of long-tail keywords and a few carefully selected short-tail, high-traffic keywords.

Using the tree metaphor, let’s look at the approach that many SEOs take to building and executing their SEO campaigns:

Step One: Target 10+ lucrative, high-value, high-traffic keywords.

Step Two: Focus link building on these keywords and no others.

Step Three: Develop content solely for these high-value keywords.

The end result is predictable: their website moves up the ranks for its top keywords, but not at a particularly impressive speed. Instead of achieving a first-page ranking – and thus, receiving traffic – it sits on the second or third page, failing to attract more than a few monthly visitors from its ‘lucrative’ target keywords.

The unfortunate reality of SEO is that listings on the first page of Google receive a far higher share of traffic than those on the second page. The ration isn’t 70:30, as many expect, but something far closer to 98:2. Being at the bottom of the first page is a big boost over being at the top of the next, despite the closeness in numerical ranking.

Because of this, the best SEO campaigns are often planned with the lowest-hanging fruits targeted first, and the biggest fruits last. Long-tail keywords – keywords that receive as little as 100 searches per month – are the ideal initial target for your SEO projects due to their lack of competition and relative ranking simplicity.

Instead of the three-step model for failure we’ve discussed above, a successful SEO campaign should use the following three-step system:

Step One: Target 100+ lucrative yet low-traffic keywords.

Step Two: Focus link building solely on these low-traffic keywords.

Step Three: Develop content that targets all of your search keywords.

It takes very little effort to rank prominently for long-tail keywords, making them an ideal target for the early days of an SEO campaign. Better yet, every piece of content you build to target a long-tail keyword during your website’s early days becomes an exceptionally valuable SEO asset when it’s time to target higher-value keywords.

Think about it: it’s far easier for a prominent, well established website to rank for a high-value term than it is for a brand new website. As such, it’s worth building your website to become established and respected before you target the search keywords that are so frequently out of reach for a newcomer.

Great SEO is far more about planning and strategy as it is about the sheer volume of links and content you can generate. A website that’s built up gradually, with modest targets in its early days and ambitious targets later in its lifespan, will experience a long-term advantage that no race-to-the-top SEO effort can ever hope to match.