Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring an SEO

In the world of internet searches, if your site isn't ranking at the top of SERPs, you might as well be invisible. Hiring an SEO can be critical to increased brand awareness and higher sales. But before you commit, make sure you avoid these common mistakes.

Avoid these 3 mistakes when hiring an SEO – DataBabe Digital

Mistake #1 - Using Google as your filter

An SEO's job is to rank their clients as highly as possible in SERPs, so it only makes sense that the best SEO's show up in top Google spots too, right?

This may seem counterintuitive but…not exactly. 

Earlier this year I decided to do a little investigating by searching "best SEO [location]".  Along with the usual paid ad results, there were about 5 local SEO agencies who showed appeared on the first page, and each of their descriptions stated they were "Ranked #1 SEO agency in [location]". Interesting. So many #1s! 

I then decided to check out employee reviews for the company ranked in the #1 position, specifically reviews from SEO analysts within the company. What I found was a  not just a problem with a high churn rate, but also a number of SEOs expressing client overload, juggling up to 15 accounts per month. 

Although I don't doubt that there are plenty of independent SEO Consultants out there who have no problem handling a workload like that, if I were a client looking to hire an SEO, I would like some assurance that whomever is working on my account actually has the time to focus on my business. Also, a high employee churn rate means you could have several different people handling your campaign over time.

So what does all this mean? It means that there are probably a lot of SEO's who aren't ranking in the top spots simply because they don't have to. Their clients refer other clients, or they have high client retention because they do good work and they don't need a consistent stream of new clients.

Now, this is not to say that you won't be able to find an excellent SEO agency out there when conducting a Google search, I'm just saying to be weary and do some research beyond an initial search.

Mistake #2 - Trusting SEO list sites

These are just aggregator sites where companies can apply to be listed for a price. You'll find these for pretty much any industry. 

These sites work on ranking for terms like: 

  • "best seo consultant"
  • "best seo agencies"
  • "best seo companies"

They then sell listings to anyone who wants to buy a spot. Not only does this give an advantage to large companies with money to blow, but it's also presents the consumer with an untrustworthy list of companies who are simply paying to play.

Mistake #3 - Lack of transparency in the SEO process

It surprises me to hear that there are still plenty of SEOs who will guarantee #1 rankings by using some secret proprietary methods. Major red flag. “Proprietary” simply means, “I don’t want to tell you.”  And could also mean shady black hat tactics. Steer clear.

Any reputable SEO should be willing to reveal their SEO process to you. As a potential client, you should be curious to know about the techniques an SEO company plans to use in order to rank your business. If the industry jargon is difficult to understand, have them explain it to you. There should be no confusion as to what you're signing up for. I have an entire page devoted to my SEO process, which also helps to answer any initial questions a client might have.


When you're looking to hire an SEO for your business, don't depend solely on Google results. Great SEO's don't rely on rankings to gain new clients. Ranking aggregators employ a pay-to-play model which doesn't actually rank the performance of SEO agencies. SEOs who claim to have a "secret sauce" for obtaining top rankings, don't. 

SEOMia VanValkenburgComment