SEO Companies Are Lying to You: Here’s What You Should Do Instead

seo company

Most local SEO companies are lying to you.

I just read a well-known SEO company article about the 10 metrics you need to measure.

  • Number of keywords ranked.
  • Bounce rate.
  • Site traffic.
  • Etc…

But not one of those metrics was real business metrics—like phone calls that last more than a minute or new cases/clients in the CRM.

Let me tell you the dirty little secret that most local SEO companies don’t even know themselves.

When you see the number of ranking keywords going up for your site, plus more traffic, that sounds like a good thing, right?

Maybe you’re a personal injury attorney wanting more truck cases.

So the SEO company spins up many articles to answer informational queries on how to get a CDL, what a reefer truck is, how much a semi weighs, and so forth.

You’re getting thousands of visitors because you’re ranking on these glossary terms– but these are not people who got injured in a trucking accident and need a lawyer.

A buddy of mine was paying $70,000 a month to build this directory– auto-generated pages by AI and VAs to rank on the above terms. This is a real example I’m mentioning.

Or let’s say you’re a pest control company in Portland, Oregon.

The local SEO firm may write articles on “what are the 10 most dangerous spiders” since you want to get more calls for spiders.

But that article will attract people from all over the world who find spiders interesting.

They are not in Portland, and they are not looking for an exterminator.

When SEO companies spin up these articles—which is super easy now with ChatGPT and other tools—they can declare victory on all their SEO metrics.

You may even know there is software to auto-generate monthly client reports– these 50-page beasts that appear impressive and put the agency logo on top.

But are you getting more emergency plumber calls in Dallas, Texas?

Or more of <your category> in <your city>?

Here’s what should be done– which is also what Google recommends…

The search engine wants a credible signal that you are your city’s legit plumbing/HVAC company.

Pretend you’re a search engine trying to decipher the real signals among the fake pages being generated by local SEO companies.

What would you look at?

I was an early search engine engineer, so I’m credible here.

You’d want to see that they have real reviews on Google and other places. Yes, I know that 20%+ of reviews are fake, which is another discussion for another time.

You’d want to see that the business is getting traffic from Dallas, Texas, and that users who come to the site appear to be looking for a plumber.

If you’re getting traffic from India on the most poisonous ants, that will muddy the signal.

You’d want to see click behavior (which Google can see) that shows your content is “helpful.”

The recent DOJ case with Google/Apple forced Google to review how their search algorithm works- a fascinating geek-out if you’re interested, mainly considering user behavior on your site, not so many links, and typical SEO trickery.

If what I’ve explained above seems logical and reasonable, let me ask you this…

If you’re a plumbing/HVAC company in Las Vegas (like Pure Plumbing & Air) and an SEO company in Los Angeles is “doing” your SEO, how likely are they to generate the authentic signals that Google is looking for?

Wouldn’t your operations people and technicians be best equipped to get customers to leave more and better reviews?

Or take pictures and 15-second videos of “a day in the life” on their cell phones as they do their jobs?

Or even answer the PAA (people also ask) questions that Google shows people who search for “emergency plumber Las Vegas” are looking for?

seo compan
PAA section for “emergency plumber Las Vegas”

Authentic content generation has to start with YOU– because the source is video, not ChatGPT text.

AI tools can turn video UGC (user-generated content) into Facebook posts, tweets, YouTube shorts, blog posts, GMB posts, and other types of content.

A secret: ChatGPT and a few other tools can do a better job than the agency. They know nothing better than you or me.

Then what does the SEO company actually do?

And how much of it is legitimate versus “black hat” (designed to trick Google, but which will eventually get busted)?

If you separate what work is done, the legitimate SEO companies are mainly your webmasters who maintain the content on your WordPress website.

Strip away all the SEO witchcraft and confusing jargon, and you’ll see that the only actual activities in marketing are:

*** Building trusted relationships in your geo/vertical.

The Geo-Category Grid helps local service businesses be more strategic and efficient with their advertising, leading to better targeting, higher engagement, and more customers.

Let’s demonstrate using an example:

A business offering IV Therapy in Tampa, like Oasis Mobile IV Therapy, should partner with other Tampa businesses or IV Therapy businesses outside their area.

This creates a “cross,” showing Oasis IV Therapy the types of businesses they should collaborate with and link to, and vice versa.

These could be IV Therapy clinics outside Tampa or other local businesses in Tampa.

They wouldn’t have much in common with an HVAC company in New York or a plumbing business in Boston, but they would have a lot in common with an HVAC company in Tampa (GEO) or an IV Therapy clinic in Phoenix.

Example of a Geo Grid Cross
Geo Grid showing how Oasis Mobile IV Therapy can partner with other businesses to get SEO link juice.

By sharing links between these businesses, they can grow together ethically.

*** Creating content from those relationships in video format.

For example, if you’re a Plumber, you can do podcasts with other plumbers in other cities. This will help Google know that you’re associating with businesses that offer related services, which, in turn, increases trust.

*** Posting that content to social media, YouTube, websites, etc…

Once you have content that you have either co-created with other business owners or with your clients, employees, etc., you can repurpose and publish it in several places to help you get traffic and great SEO signals.

*** Running ads against that content.

The best way to run ads is using Dollar a Day, which is simply amplifying what is already working. It works by testing your content first to see how it performs in terms of engagements and then boosting the same content so that you can reach more audiences. This will help you get more traffic, which will increase SEO signals.

So, what is the SEO company doing beyond these four things?

If the answer is hreflang tags (I saw a prominent SEO expert declare this should be our top priority yesterday), run.

Consider those 4 buckets of activities above and who should be doing them.

If this makes sense to you, then you should consider the 4 stage Content Factory process, which organizes everything, makes it measurable, and allows you to own your marketing.

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4-stage Content Factory process

I’m not saying fire your agency or even take things in-house.

But I am saying you need to be clear on what is being done and be able to trace business results (calls and bookings) back to these activities.

Final word, which SEO folks have no answer for but will still try to argue:

SEO is the “result” of the 4 activities above—it’s not something you “do.

Dennis Yu and Roger Wakefield explain why you can’t “DO SEO.”

Weight loss is the result of good dieting, exercise, and sleep.

I can’t pay someone to lose weight for me.

But I can pay for a personal trainer, buy high-quality food, and ensure that I’m doing the right things.

Can you imagine someone who eats at McDonald’s for every meal and has no change in diet or activities—and is paying a weight loss expert who lives 2,000 miles away to help him lose weight?

SEO companies can actually drive results—fake (like the techniques I mentioned at the start) and real (using “black hat” spammy tactics like spinning up spam blogs and buying links).

But are any of those legitimately following Google guidelines of EEAT and “helpful content”?

If you’ve fallen for the idea that marketing is complicated– that you should focus on fixing toilets and killing bugs while the SEO experts focus on what they’re good at, I hope this post opens your eyes.

Want to unlock your SEO potential? Visit now for a comprehensive SEO audit. It’s quick, effective, and essential—let’s go!

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.