The Truth About SEO Agencies: Are You Being Deceived?

In the digital age, businesses often pay hefty fees to SEO Agencies to ensure visibility online. These agencies claim expertise in Search Engine Optimization, a primary strategy designed to draw attention and drive traffic. But with an abundance of SEO Agencies offering their services, how can one discern genuine effort from empty promises? Are you truly getting the value and results promised by these agencies?

A Quick Glance

See all those zeros? In just 5 seconds, it becomes evident that no SEO efforts have been applied for this business. Yet, they’ve been invoiced for months of SEO, lured by the ambiguous claim that it “takes a few months to get results” from Google.

The Hidden Costs

This business spent over $5,000 to build a website and incurs a monthly fee of $1,995 to manage Google Ads, excluding the actual ad spend. Sadly, after auditing five companies this week, I’ve found this to be a common narrative.

Audit Techniques and Their Findings

My go-to audit technique involves examining the change history in the ad account – if the agency allows access. It’s a clear window into the optimizations undertaken and by whom. Shockingly, most reveal zero actions over the past 90 days. A small percentage, about 20% of the numerous accounts I’ve scrutinized over time, do rank for valuable keywords, such as “concrete floors + city name”. But a swift 5-second check uncovers the methods behind these SEO results. Predominantly, it involves purchasing spammy blog posts, leading your genuine article to sit alongside content about mascara, auto parts, or even sex toys.

The Grey Area in SEO

Yes, for low-competition terms, these spammy links and directory submissions can be effective, as many “SEO experts” might assert. However, Google, being the vigilant entity it is, will always catch and penalize such tactics.

While I can understand an agency’s desire to show results, resorting to “gray hat” techniques isn’t the way forward. And what’s even more disturbing is discovering agencies that charge $2,000 monthly for SEO but show zero progress after 9 months. It’s heartbreaking to think of the better use that $18,000 could have been put to by a small business owner.

The Misplaced Trust

It’s painful to watch agency owners flaunting their extravagant lifestyles, leaving them “too busy” to address client concerns. One client shared his regret about choosing a particular agency that seemed credible, given their grand events and impressive podcasts. It’s distressing when such agencies exploit the trust vested in them, only to serve their own financial ends. Like Danny Barrera aptly puts it: “Marketing agencies are liars.”

Empowering the Client

The silver lining? You can arm yourself with knowledge. A quick look or five pertinent questions can instantly help you gauge your agency’s authenticity. Should you need assistance, I offer complimentary quick audits. This helps you ascertain the state of your account, after which you can choose your course of action – whether it’s a DIY fix, urging your current agency to rectify, or opting for a truly reputable agency.

Dennis Yu

About the Author

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.