Why Do SEO Agencies Overpromise And Underdeliver?

The following is a guest post by Matter Solutions. Matter Solutions are experts in digital marketing with over 15 years of experience in SEO and Web design.  

It can sometimes be overwhelming when you’re deciding on which SEO agency to hire for your business. They’re all offering to get the best results for the cheapest price. Unfortunately, some agencies make promises they are simply unable to match. This will leave you underwhelmed with an underperforming website. You don’t want to lose your money paying for a dodgy SEO agency, only to have to pay more for a new SEO agency to fix the mistakes. To avoid this, make sure you avoid an SEO agency that over promises in the first place.

SEO traffic

What to look out for

If you’re wanting to avoid agencies that overpromise, but will underdeliver, then here are a few key things to look out for:

1. Guaranteed ranking

Beware of SEO agencies that make promises in relation to Google’s search engine results. No one – not even an agency that claims to “know someone at Google” – will be able to guarantee the number one ranking on Google. In fact, Google even specifically mentions that no one can make this guarantee. There is no priority submit to Google nor any guaranteed formula that will make your website number one. Factors such as physical location will also come into play. Google tries to personalize its results, and as such, people living in different cities will have varying results, making it difficult to globally ensure a website will have the number one position.

2. Never say no

Sometimes, a company will have unrealistic expectations, or make demands that will be damaging to the business’ SEO. Often, an SEO agency will not say no to these demands and will undertake them anyway. They are wanting to please the client, and not risk them leaving and going to a competitor instead. Doing everything the client wants is often risky. They aren’t the SEO experts here, often they don’t know what the best strategy is. Sometimes, it’s actually best just to say no, and offer an alternative option.

3. One size fits all

seo factors

Image Source: Freepik

Sometimes an SEO agency will have an approach that they try to use on all their clients. Link building worked for one client? Great, we’ll use it on all our clients! Unfortunately, SEO doesn’t quite work that way. Businesses generally need a personalized SEO campaign. What works for one won’t necessarily work for the next client. Be wary of agencies who offer the same package bundle to everyone, or offer you services you know you don’t need. Only pay for services your business actually needs.

4. Google algorithms

Just like SEO agencies ‘know someone at Google’, they will also often claim to have ‘insider knowledge’ about Google’s algorithms. Unfortunately for these agencies, Google changes their algorithm fairly frequently. This makes it difficult for agencies to know exactly what tactic will work. As algorithms get updated, so will SEO strategies. Be wary if an agency says they know the algorithm and have strategies in place that will cause your business to rank well.

5. There’s more than rankings

It looks impressive when an agency can boast about getting good rankings for a client. However, this isn’t the only factor in SEO. A legitimate agency will focus on gaining more traffic and conversions to your website. Increasing traffic should always be the primary focus. If you focus on this, the rest will figure itself out, and you’ll see an improvement in your SEO.

So why exactly do SEO agencies overpromise, underdeliver and try and sell these dodgy practices? You always have to remember that SEO agencies are a business – and the thing all businesses want is to make money. The easiest way to make money is with grand, impressive-sounding statements. These statements are far more likely to get customers, instead of a mediocre, realistic statement. However, the main problem with these statements is agencies generally can’t deliver on them. Businesses have then paid often thousands of dollars, see no results, and are left to find an SEO agency that can actually deliver.


It’s important to remember a few key things when deciding which SEO agency you want to hire:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is: it’s a cliché, but it’s one for a reason. It rings particularly true for SEO agencies. If an agency is making a promise that sounds amazing, and not every other agency is saying the same thing, chances are they won’t be able to deliver.Choosing the right SEO agency can be difficult. Many SEO agencies promise the world and deliver nothing. Here is what to look for in a good SEO agency!
  • SEO takes time: some agencies will promise overnight results. While businesses want to see results quickly, that’s not how SEO works. SEO takes time – you’re not going to see an instant traffic increase, more conversions and a rise in search engine results overnight. If you invest in a genuine SEO agency, you will eventually see these results, but not the day after you’ve hired them.
  • You get what you pay for: businesses don’t want to spend more money than they need to. So it’s tempting to hire an SEO agency that promises to be the cheapest on the market. With SEO, you get what you pay for. If they’re too cheap, they’re probably undertaking black hat SEO strategies, which can result in a Google penalty. Sometimes, it’s better to pay a little bit more, to avoid a lot of damage to your business in the long run.

There are also some tasks that you can do yourself to improve your SEO rankings and traffic!

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  • http://www.5ines.com Anand Kumar

    Hi Sussana, these are the real facts. Many SEO agencies are implementing tactics without even knowing whether they need it for that project or not. Thanks for this nice blog

  • Josh Rector

    Why are more people not talking about this? It’s such a scam. It’s really salespeople who have absolutely no idea what they are selling to people who have absolutely no understanding of SEO. It’s sound bites and tech-speak terms that confuse small business owners. It’s a black box promises that are ridiculous. Why would you pay a third party for what you can do yourself? Are you going to pay an agency to buy AdWords? How much do they actually spend with Google? The small business owner has no idea. It’s like buying a yellow pages ad.

  • http://4ubrand.blogspot.com/ Frank Gainaford

    Great post, very well written. Just the issue if quality was not presented, though it was certainly implied. I like the fact that you say GOOD SEO TAKES TIME, as this is very often not understood. Most of the time is in customer research and related semantic studies to determine content topics, the also content structure, copywriting and content layouts.

    Then there is the technical SEO that needs your attention in places like image alt tags,title tags and other EXIF DATA issues, schema markup and other issues.

    Shared further coz this is a great post.

  • http://imahockeydad.com/ Jeff Riddall

    Great post Susanna. It certainly is difficult for organizations and consumers to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to SEO help and unfortunately, there are still a lot of less than reputable “service” providers out there.

    Your readers might also enjoy this post on SEO Agency Horror Stories we published a short time ago, which is fitting with Halloween just around the corner – http://gshift.it/qiwz1sj.


  • Bochkar Sagar

    Yes now a days to hard to know a genuine SEO agency, am wrote a post in my blog about Best SEO Companies in India to know more go through my blog