Don’t be Sucked in by #SEO Lies

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Don’t be Sucked in by #SEO Lies

Part of what makes the SEO business so risky is the fact that the search engines control everything, and we only have a decent idea of what goes into the ranking factors. While research, trial and error, and some clues from Matt Cutts have guided us along the way, there are plenty of less than reputable SEO companies out there lying to business owners who are none the wiser. Want to make sure you’re not getting swindled? Watch out for these.

Lie #1: “We Don’t Need Experience in Your Industry”

SEO agencies can work magic in industries they know, so look for a company that specializes in helping companies like yours. You can use an agency that doesn’t have much of a clue about the kind of work you do and what your audience wants to hear, and they can do a good job based on your guidance and research, but it won’t have quite the same “oomph” to it.

Don't be Sucked in by SEO Lies | SEJ

Lie #2: “We Guarantee #1 Rank in Google”

Of course, there’s value in a #1 ranking and everyone wants to be there. After all, a 2013 study showed 91.5% of all traffic goes to page one, 4.8% goes to page two, and 1.1% goes to page three. But if you see/hear this one run and run fast in the other direction.

No SEO company can promise this to any client. In fact, the most reputable companies will outright admit they can’t guarantee results. Google warns against it, and since they’re the ones who practically run the show, listen to them—not the people who are trying to take your money.

Lie #3: “We can Fix Your SEO in a Month”

Ha! Even if you started using the Internet for the first time last year, you’ve no doubt seen tons of changes happen every day. SEO requires ongoing monitoring and adjustments to strategy based on what you see happening. Google is constantly updating their algorithms to better improve services for their customers, as we’ve seen in the past with Penguin, Panda, and various other updates. Moz shares an algorithm change history that provides more details about all the changes that have occurred, and when.

Lie #4: “Outreach is the Answer”

This is a tricky one, because for many industries it can be helpful. However, for some, say for instance, a kitchen and bath design company operating in a small local area, it doesn’t make sense. What good would it do to feature a business that can’t possibly have national reach on a major niche website like HGTV? Sure, it may get this business in front of thousands of eyes, but since that business owner can’t offer his services to all of them, his SEO budget is better spent on other strategies.

Lie #5: “Your Best Content Belongs on Your Website”

You always want to put your best foot forward, but sometimes it’s a good idea to use that stellar content on a niche website that will draw traffic (and hopefully revenue) to your own website.

Lie #6: “SEO is All You Need”

If you hear this one, it’s because that’s all they’re selling. SEO is only one piece of the puzzle. Good agencies will go beyond the basics of SEO-friendly keywords, meta descriptions, and tags to help you develop a full-fledged strategy that could include a unique blend of: pay-per-click (PPC) ads, content marketing, social media, and other tactics. I’ve written about how social affects your SEO and if you think simply having a social presence is enough, you’re wrong.

Lie #7: “You Can’t Do it Yourself”

Yes, you can. It may take you a bit longer and you may not get the results a quality agency can provide, but just by landing here at Search Engine Journal, you’re on the right track to learning skills that can help you on your SEO journey. From basics to more advanced topics and case studies, you can search your way to nearly anything you want to know, including information the experts use.


When hiring an SEO consultant or team to work on your website, do your homework. The second you hear one of these lies, it’s time to move on to another option. Now, is this an exhaustive list of the lies you could possibly hear? Not exactly. You’ll have to use your own judgment when making the final hire. One of the best ways you can verify company skill is to see where their own site ranks. SEO, just like any other industry, is highly competitive. If they can’t rank their own site well, what makes you think they’ll be able to rank yours?


Image Credits

Featured image: Tumisu/
Article image credit:  FirmBee/

Lucinda Watrous

Lucinda Watrous

Lucinda Watrous is a freelance writer and web designer nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina. She's a tech geek, foodie, and research junkie.... Read Full Bio
Lucinda Watrous
Lucinda Watrous
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  • Deepak Memo

    This is very true. SEO is not one time task or not anything on which you can make any promise. Its a comparative activity which not only depends on your own efforts but also on your competitors efforts. Their well research can make you down and you can get benefit from their weak points. SEO is an ongoing activity which keep on running till the time your website is running and you want to remain on top in search results.

    • Lucinda Watrous

      Unfortunately, I’ve dealt with a number of clients who refused ongoing support. They were under the impression that you could build it, and they would come… and then you could leave it untouched for years. Many have come back to me asking about lost traffic and rankings. When I explain that because they didn’t pay me (or someone else) to maintain it for SEO purposes, they act like I’m crazy. Sometimes, you just have to let people learn the hard way.

      • Kelsey Jones

        I’ve had this same experience as well. Sad for them, but it’s their choice. There’s only so much convincing you can try to do before giving up.

  • Glynn Davies

    “What good would it do to feature a [local] business that can’t possibly have national reach on a major niche website like HGTV?”. Why assume outreach means using major publishers with national scope? What’s wrong with local or regional publishers?

    • Lucinda Watrous

      That’s a good point, but there’s still a possibility of not being able to find the right publications for your niche on the local and regional levels, as well. In terms of exposure, the national brand is higher, but it wouldn’t yield the conversions to make it worth it. That’s all I was trying to say. Thanks for sharing your POV. 🙂

  • Transport George

    Wow this is very accurate! Experience and expertise in doing SEO for a particular niche is important to help your website rank for the right keywords and reach the right audience. So, website owners and online entrepreneurs should hire the right SEO company that specializes in their niche.

  • Kelly Dongly

    it’s very true for seo.

  • sattamatkapress

    its very usfull for seo

  • Jibbu

    Informative article for Agencies and Companies who hire SEO and want quick result or who don’t know about SEO.

  • Prateek Mishra

    First of all the Title attracts !!

    And as a client manager I can say i mostly deal with all of the points specially the thing about the industry knowledge, how can be someone perform the SEO for your business unless he don’t understand the audience and business.

  • serge billon (web54)

    thanks for being earnest, SEO liers are so plenty…

  • capital letters

    “You Can’t Do It Yourself” is definitely oftentimes a lie. However, “You Won’t Do It Yourself” almost never is. That’s the one I use.

    • Lucinda Watrous

      Good point. 🙂

      • Kamil Baaklini

        or it should be ” We will help you do it ” by providing clients customized trainings.

  • Amir Bar-Tikva

    I agree with most points, but the last point (#7) is superficial and misleading. It is the same as if you will tell readers on your cooking blog that they can make the same dish quality like a professional chef if the read the recipes on your site. SEO takes more than just the time to do it or read about it, you need real understanding, experience and most of strong relevant background to do it correct and professionally!

  • Amir Bar-Tikva

    I agree with most points, but the last point (#7) is superficial and misleading. It is the same as if you will tell readers on your cooking blog that they can make the same dish quality like a professional chef if they read the recipes on your site. SEO takes more than just the time to do it or read about it, you need real understanding, experience and most of all strong relevant background to do it correct and professionally!

  • Bibek Kumar Shrestha

    Totally agree with this post !

  • Toni Simpsons

    Great article but i sure disagree with #7, lots of small business owners that i relate to cannot do it themselves as they have no clue, no time and neither interested in learning.
    I agree with the rest of your post except the #7.
    To thrive within the SEO business it requires constant learning, how many business owner has got that time, and if they have, i guess we all be out of business.

    • Lucinda Watrous

      I understand where you’re coming from on the final point. I didn’t mean to suggest that reading a few articles about it makes you an expert. It does indeed require a lot of work, but dedicating yourself to learning it the right way can be done.

      • Toni Simpsons

        Thanks for your response. 🙂


    • Jon Schear

      On the flip side, I’ve met a lot of business owners who think they can do it, but don’t want to spend the time learning how to, so all effort is…half baked.

      • Toni Simpsons

        That is true. Business owners need to appreciate SEO specialist. 🙂

  • Nagalaxmi

    Nice post. Real facts. seo is easy every one can do it

  • Lucinda Watrous

    I most certainly agree that SEO is only one part of the puzzle. It’s where most people start, though. When they’re disappointed with the results, it’s usually because they didn’t go beyond SEO and factor in social and other areas of marketing.

  • Randy Downs

    Good advice all around. I agree that someone can do this themselves but they have a lot of catching up to do if they are going to do a decent job.

    A small business is probably better advised to have an overall idea of what’s going rather than trying to be the SEO expert. That said there’s nothing stopping anyone from reading up on the subject and applying best practices. Hopefully they read something like SEJ and not some site that advises quick fixes using gray if not black hat techniques.

  • Maria Ujvari

    Definitely there are many many valid points in your article, even for such a small language environment like Hungarian. (We build websites in Hungarian mainly, with SEO altogether.) We do not have real quality article sites, therefore “Your Best Content IS IN your own website.”
    Apart from that: the “You Can Do it” stuff in general is misleading. Yes, the website owner CAN do a lot of things (our website development service includes the training for website copywriting!), but for that they need a strong basis, a well-done website. Otherwise they just simply manipulate, and at the end of the day they come back and ask why they are not ranked at No. 1. Still we meet a lot of new customers telling us that they need the keywords meta tag, because they heard it is SEO…
    And… I have spent my last 10 years reading in English, bought books from Amazon, tried many techniques in roughly 100 websites… yes, anyone can do it in 10 years’ time…:)))

  • Havi Goffan

    SEO maybe something somebody can learn but not something that anybody can do well. There are “SEO experts” that do a terrible job of positioning sites. They go for irrelevant queries or build backlinks, add a few incorrect meta tags, forget semantic markup and canonicalization or re-directs when appropriate and think that’s SEO. Today’s SEO has to do with technical knowledge that goes beyond meta tags. It goes all the way to how servers’ processors work and all the way to understanding search intent. Content development will more than likely be done by writers (SEO’s do not have to be literary masters, although it helps) but it is part of the SEO equation as much as Social is. Content Marketing, Social Media, Website Development, Conversion, and SEO need to have an integrated strategy and be in alignment with the whole marketing and business strategy.

    I agree with you on the false promises and hocus pocus.

    Do you really want to know how to tell the good SEOs from the bad SEOs? Have them share analytics of their clients (just gray out the client’s name or ask the client for permission – our clients happily do so) and show them the money. Have them give you a few queries where they can see those sites ranking and have them run the queries themselves. And above all, they should be willing to share their knowledge with you and coach you (SEO is too large a task for SEOs to tackle on their own when done properly – client’s should contribute)

  • Charles Lewis

    My issue is with #1 and #4. Since effective SEO will take months, I don’t necessarily need to be an expert in your field to do great work. As long as communication is open, it only takes a few months to get really familiar with an industry. In regards to outreach…if the client base for the local business also values that national source, then having activity there could improve perception which would lead to higher conversions. Any link from the national source would likely benefit the local site also. #My2Cents

  • Jim Conte

    Excellent post! As a business owner, I did hire a company who lied, and lied and lied… While they did “some” good work I found they didn’t do the on-page properly and were just doing very basic articles and backlink submissions. I finally just fired them and started doing it myself. It’s difficult to keep up sometimes, and very time consuming but I just keep plugging away at it. I really like your suggestion of checking their ranking before hiring an SEO company, very good point!

  • MyConversionBrain

    Great post Lucinda. The best thing to do is always to educate yourself properly before taking on an SEO consultant or hiring a person to perform such duties. SEO has changed so much over the years that many companies may be focusing on the wrong strategies which are way outdated and can actually penalize you if you are not careful. When something sounds too good to be true it usually is.