You have to consider several things when hiring a SEO. We have chosen 7 red flag triggers which will help you quickly understand if the prospective SEO (either employee, freelancer or agency) you are talking to know what they are doing.

1. “SEO optimization

There is no such thing as “SEO optimization”. SEO is abbreviation for “Search Engine Optimization”. Being told this should trigger the red flag for you.

You might think this is pointless. But you can’t imagine how often this phrase is used by some so called “SEO consultants”. Consider being told “Search Engine Optimization Optimization”…

2. Number-one / page-one ranking guarantee for a major search term

If they give you such a guarantee, run away as fast as you can. Nobody can guarantee number-one position.

At least because of the frequent updates of search algorithms. Nobody except few people in Google (Yahoo, Bing) know when the new update will occur. Google themselves make over 500 updates in their algorithm a year.

In case you are interested in Google algorithm updates history Moz have very good regularly updated page with the major ones. Moz are a serious authority in web marketing.


A network of people within a company

3. Insider information from Google (Bing, Yahoo)

You are told they have insider information and know people in Google (Yahoo, Bing) who can help rank you number-one if you pay enough.

The search algorithms are the best kept secrets of the search engines. Nobody knows exactly how many and which are the ranking factors used in the search engines’ algorithms.

SEO community’s knowledge is a result from many hours of continuous thorough research of Google (mainly; Yahoo and Bing too) signals, analysis of tremendous amounts of data and and slipped (occasionally and not so occasionally) single phrases by Google (mainly; Bing and Yahoo too) authorities. Although these revealed ranking factors seem to be quite correct and work well there is no list of the ranking factors published by Google and other search engines.

4. Technical SEO

It is absolutely necessary for them to do technical audit. Be sure they tell you that the following elements will be taken into account:

  • Title tag optimization
  • Meta Description optimization
  • XML sitemap creation
  • XML sitemap syndication at least to Google and Bing
  • Google Analytics and Search Console Setup
  • Keyword Density Optimization
  • Internal Linking Optimization
  • Images optimization (compression, names, alt tags, description)
  • Duplicate Content Optimization
  • Speed optimization
  • Broken link optimization
  • 404 Not found and 301 permanent redirect (canonization) optimization

5. How the keywords will be used

The keywords should be used in the text flowing “naturally”, without so called  “keyword stuffing”.

If they tell you they will use the keywords in the Keyword meta tag this is a point of consideration. Google does not take the keyword tag into account at all. This will only benefit your competitors who will receive a neat nice list of your keywords for free which you paid for.

6. How will they get links to your site (Or what is their link building strategy)

If they tell you that they use link-building software to automate the process or they will buy or exchange links – keep  away. This is a signal for Grey/ Black-hat SEO. Although you may get quick short term results you can be pretty sure that you’ll end up with a Google penalty.

What matters most for search engines is the quality of the backlinks. Believe me this – obtaining quality backlinks requires lengthy and hard manual work.

Always bear in mind that the search engines count the QUALITY of the backlinks, not the quantity. For example, for a news website a single link from let’s say (with Google PR 8) has tremendously more weight than thousands form not-known web directories.

7. When the first results from a SEO campaign will be seen

There are many factors which influence the campaign process – the current state of the website, keywords chosen, industry, competitors, previous SEO efforts and its quality etc… SEO is time consuming process. The first results usually come in 3 to 6 months. First-month result is possible only in some rare cases (e.g. in low competitive environment).  If they guarantee you results in a month this might be a red flag.


Choosing a suspiciously cheap or not so competent SEO may cost you a lot. Consider that their campaign might not meet the goals set at all, may cause waste of time and money, or worse – lead up to a Google penalty or harm your brand image and business.

These 7 simple points of consideration could help you decide whether to hire them or not. Of course you MUST ask lots of other questions before you decide but these 7 hints can help you quickly filter out.