How to Tell If an SEO Agency/Consultant is Full of It


So you’ve decided to take some action in order to get some more traffic to your website and in return more leads/sales.

This is where SEO comes in and saves the day. The problem is you don’t know how it works, heck, you don’t even know what “SEO” is! SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization or Search Engine Optimisation with an “S”””.

You can educate yourself more on Wikipedia.

Online marketers have been using SEO since the internet came around to gain traffic/leads/sales from search engines such as Google/Bing/Yahoo. Mostly Google though.

So back to your problem, you’ve discovered this black magic called SEO and now you even know what it stands for, unfortunately, that’s nowhere near enough to gain that sweet traffic you’re looking for.

Since you’re a very busy business owner, you’ve decided to look for an SEO Agency or an SEO consultant who knows how to use this black magic (SEO) to increase your wallet thickness.


So after much looking on the internet, local chamber of commerce magazines, LinkedIn and going back through those emails you’ve received so many times in the past but never replied because you didn’t know what SEO is, you decided to pick an SEO Agency or SEO Consultant and get the ball rolling.

The point

So back at our main subject, how to tell if said SEO Agency/Consultant is full of shit and they only want to separate you from your hard-earned cash and make your wallet thinner instead of thicker.

Lead by example

First things first, look at their website, how does it look? If they don’t have one, that’s a major red flag and you should immediately move on.

You will find that many of those spam emails from SEO consultants don’t list a website, just an email address, usually something like “”””, that’s when you know they are full of it.

But let’s say they do have a website. If their website is poorly built, has barely any content, they don’t have a blog or their articles are short and poorly written, run for the hills.

Also check social accounts, reviews, Google My Business listing, etc, chances are that if they don’t have the above, they won’t be able to improve your online presence, and in return, get more traffic.

Empty promises

Another massive red flag is promises, an SEO charlatan will tell you anything you want to hear just to get you to sign that contract or at least get the first payment from you.

Real SEOs know that SEO takes time, patience and a lot of work, a real SEO will tell you that there are no guarantees, all you can do is do everything by the book and hope for the best.

If an SEO company/consultant tells you that you will be at a specific position in Google or increase traffic by an amount.. they are full of it.

SEO is cheap

If you finally ask how much it will cost and they tell you that it will cost a couple hundred per month, that’s too cheap.

I don’t care what industry you are in, a few hundred per month is nowhere near enough to run an SEO campaign unless you want results in 30 years.

SEO is really expensive, for a very low key SEO campaign with a couple of links per month, a couple of blog posts and a few hours of on-page optimisation, you’re looking at around £500 – £1500 depending on your industry.

If you are in an industry like finance, recruitment, law, medical expect to pay 10 times that.

You can, indeed, do SEO with no cost (like Neil Patel always likes to mention) but you need knowledge and a ridiculous amount of time.

So the essence here is, if it’s cheap, look elsewhere.

Advice: If you don’t have a decent amount of money to spend, try and learn a few things and implement them yourself. There are plenty of websites to learn from on the internet.


Another red flag is when the SEO consultant/Agency doesn’t ask you a million questions, just as an example if I take on-board a new SEO client, I’ll usually have an about 2 hours long introduction meeting to understand more about their field. And that’s just for info the client can provide.

Before an accurate SEO quote is given, I need to do several other hours of digging to learn about their market, where they are at the moment, how their website is behaving, which keywords we can work with, etc, etc…

So basically on average, I’ll probably spend about 10 hours before I can give you an accurate quote.

If the SEO Agency/consultant tells you it’s going to cost £xx amount and they don’t ask you questions, they’re full of it…


Often I get clients calling me and telling me to email them a proposal with a price attached after a brief phone call, that’s not going to happen.

You’ll get a proposal with a contract attached after we had the initial meeting mention above.

I can’t generate a proposal out of thin air.

If the SEO consultant you’re talking to sent you a proposal in the first 5 minutes, they’re full of it.

No Previous Results

Another thing to look for is case studies, and references or reviews, if they don’t have them, skip.

They are not ranking themselves

Use logic, if an SEO consultant/Agency can’t rank their own website, how do you think they will rank yours?

For example, we rank for “SEO Agency Southampton“, “SEO Company Isle of Wight” and “SEO Company Portsmouth” among hundred other keywords because this is one of the main areas we cover.


Bottom line

The reality is that there are a lot of SEO scammers out there, but also a lot of good SEO people and agencies, if you follow my guide above, you’ll dodge most of the bad ones. There will still be some con artists that are pretty good at deceiving people, for that you will need to use your gut feeling.

About the author

Alex Thomas

I've been involved in digital marketing for over 10 years and have worked with global and local companies on large scale SEO and PR campaigns. In my current role at Breakline, I'm responsible for winning new business, creating, implementing and overseeing SEO campaigns, social communications, online and offline media relations.

By Alex Thomas
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