Before you hire an SEO agency in Singapore, you need to be knowledgeable about the tips and tricks of the trade. You need to know the right questions to ask, the signs to look out for, and the black hat SEO techniques used by unscrupulous SEO companies looking to make a quick buck.
If you don’t, you run the risk of hefty penalties, de-indexed websites, and a massive loss in rankings that can cost thousands and take years to recover from. You also need to know what your expectations for your agency are, so you can avoid any disappointments.
In this article, we will cover the warning signs you need to be looking out for with your agency, as well as some of the black hat techniques they use and the consequences for using them. Without this knowledge, you may run the risk of paying the wrong agency to cause you nothing but SEO grief.
9 Signs That Your SEO Company in Singapore is Doing It Wrong
While you can always ask the agency about their SEO practices, you can’t necessarily trust everything they tell you.
However, there are some easy to spot signs that the SEO company could be engaged in dubious practices. Within the first few months of the contract, keep an eye out for the following things as they could mean trouble.
Sign 1: They Don’t Ask Any Questions
A good SEO company in Singapore should ask you some key questions. After all, SEO is going to be a collaborative effort between you and the agency you hire.
Most qualified SEO companies will ask you for the following things:
- Access to your Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and/or Google My Business Page. A good agency will need access to these things in order to provide the best possible results. All three of these Google services offer valuable information or can be edited to increase your online presence, so if an agency is doing its job right, they will need access.
- A list of your target keywords. If an agency is going to help you rank for a specific keyword, they’ll need to know what those keywords are and it always start with a proper SEO keyword research.
- Either editor or admin access to your CMS/website. In order to properly manage your content and update your site’s SEO, any worthwhile agency will need to have a level of access that allows them to work on these things.
- Any past penalties, audits, or work. If you have past audits, these can be used to find any black hat techniques that were used on your site, something your SEO company should want to know about. A good agency will also want to learn if you have any penalties to fix and should be interested in any past work done to your site to help pinpoint where improvements are needed.
If none of these questions are asked, there’s a good chance they are engaging in blackhat SEO. This is because, without access, the SEO company’s options are limited. In this case, they are likely just adding questionable links and other actions that could hurt your ranking in the long run.
Sign 2: Traffic to Your Website Starts to Fall
While a drop in traffic does not always mean that your SEO company is engaging in shady practices, it should raise some red flags. This is because a large sudden drop in traffic could indicate that Google’s algorithm has penalized your site. So when this happens, you need to figure out why.
One of the first things you need to check is if Google enacted any changes to their algorithm around the time of the drop. See what these changes are and if they could be responsible for the drop.
You should also look into the changes your SEO company made around the time of the drop. See if they engaged in any dishonest techniques that could result in a penalty. Once you have narrowed down the potential issue, ask what steps your agency is making to remedy it.
Sign 3: You Get the Dreaded Manual Penalty
Manual penalties can be triggered by manual changes that were made to your site. They differ from the algorithmic penalties, which are given out by Penguin and Panda, in that they are handled by Google reviewers who assess your site’s adherence to Google’s guidelines.
Your site can receive a manual penalty for the following reasons (these are some of the more common reasons but this list is far from comprehensive):
- User-generated content that’s loaded with spam
- Strange and irrelevant links coming from your site
- Content that’s loaded with popup ads
- Website appears to be hacked
- Content that’s short and unedited for errors and quality
- Buying backlinks
- Cloaking keywords
- Stuffing keywords throughout your page
- Content has either low or no added value for users
- Backlinks from low-quality pages
- Sneaky redirects
- Content that has been republished from another website
If you are given a manual penalty within the first few months after hiring an SEO company in Singapore, it’s time to start asking questions. However, you shouldn’t jump to any conclusions too quickly, as not all manual penalties indicate that you are working with a shady agency.
It’s possible to be penalized for things like poor website security or a lack of scalability to mobile devices, which your agency may not be responsible for. Either way, any penalty should raise your suspicions and have you asking why.
Conduct a careful investigation into the exact cause of the penalty. If you find that your agency’s practices are the culprit, you may want to consider hiring a new company.
Sign 4: No Deliverables to Show
If you are working with a trustworthy SEO company in Singapore, they should be able to demonstrate it. Showing you the SEO practices that they use is a common way for an agency to prove its worth.
Sign 5: They Don’t Offer Any Advice
Your SEO company should be asking you to take certain actions with your site. If they are not, there could be a problem.
Any agency that’s going to do a good job will want you to work with them. Optimizing your site is a team effort. They should take the lead by giving you some solid, actionable advice to help you increase your ranking.
Many times, black hat SEO agencies will do nothing more than direct a bunch of low-quality backlinks at your site. If this is their SEO strategy, the company has no need to get you involved with the process.
Sign 6: Loads of Suspiciously Cheap Content
As Bill Gates once wrote, “content is king,” and this is especially true for SEO. One of the biggest determining factors for ranking well is providing quality content that will give Google users a good experience. Pumping out loads of cheap content may appear productive, but it’s going to end up hurting your site.
Make sure that any agency you are doing business with isn’t loading your site with garbage content that will scare your audience away. If you are providing a bad user experience, this is guaranteed to cause your rankings to drop.
Sign 7: They Keep Their Techniques a Secret
If your SEO company in Singapore is only engaging in reliable white hat SEO techniques, they shouldn’t be shy about sharing them. White hat techniques that are proven to get results are widely recognized and aren’t trade secrets.
So if your company tells you that they can’t give you any details because they are confidential, this should raise some major red flags. If they are doing things right, they should be happy to tell you.
Sign 8: Your Ranking Suffers
From time to time you may see minor drops in your ranking. This isn’t always something that you need to worry about. But if your ranking keeps steadily dropping over a period of time, or suddenly suffers a massive drop, you may have hired an unscrupulous SEO agency.
One of the reasons for a steady decline in ranking is an algorithmic penalty due to black hat SEO techniques. So if you notice that your ranking is dropping, it’s time to look into what your SEO company is doing. If it does not seem right, you should ask them to stop or find a better agency.
Sign 9: The Wrong Keywords Are Ranking
Ideally, your traffic should be coming from your target keywords. This is in the best interest of both you and the search engine user who’s coming to your site.
However, if any of these three things start to happen with your keywords, you have a problem:
- The highest-ranking keywords stop ranking
- There’s a significant change in your organic keywords
- Traffic is coming from the wrong keywords
Your traffic should be coming from your targeted keywords if your SEO company is doing things properly. And if they are not, your agency may be up to no good.
Commonly Used Black Hat SEO Techniques
If you notice that your agency is engaging in any of the above practices, there is a good chance they are using black hat SEO techniques. Next, we will cover some of these techniques so you’ll know exactly what you need to look out for.
A redirect is when a link sends you to a different URL than Macedonia Phone Number List the one that you first clicked. Black hat SEOs use these redirects to try and game the system. This will commonly involve sending users to one URL and the search engine crawler to another, but this isn’t the only redirect technique used.
Another black hat trick is to redirect from a reputable page that’s loaded with backlinks to a less relevant one. This technique, known as a 301 redirect, is used to transfer the authority of a reputable page to a different one to help manipulate search results.
While there are legitimate ways to use redirects, using one of the above techniques is a violation of the guidelines of most major search engines, such as Google. If you find out your SEO company in Singapore is using sneaky redirects, make them stop or replace them.
Google considers the following three practices to be keyword stuffing:
- Repeating words and phrases in a way that sounds unnatural. An example of this using the keyword “best SEO tools” would be: “For the best SEO tools you want the best SEO tool software. With the best SEO tools, you’ll never need to buy SEO tools again!”
- A list of phone numbers that don’t add value for the user.
- Chunks of text that lists the states and cities that your website is attempting to rank for.
Keyword stuffing can get you penalized and any reputable SEO company shouldn’t be engaging in this black hat technique.
Blog Comment Spam
This technique is an especially bad idea, as Google’s algorithm is incredibly good at catching blog comment spam.
On top of the difficulties of sneaking blog comment spam by Google’s algorithm, most blogs now make any links that are left in a blog’s comments nofollow by default. But if your site or blog does allow comments, it’s also important to make sure that your users can’t spam your comments either. Google can penalize pages that contain spam even if it’s in user-generated comments.
This technique is similar to sneaky redirects and involves showing. Your users one page while sending search engine crawlers to another. This practice is used to help a page rank for terms. That are not relevant to the actual content that’s displayed. Cloaking helps to disguise the fact that a site is dishing out spam.