The seven reasons we won't contract your SEO company

An open letter to SEO professionals from No Yelling.

If you've ever run a small business with a presence on the web, you know the value of the service you push as an SEO. You know it well, and you know it takes specific and technical expertise, a little creativity and most of all– time. We own a blossoming driving school in 3 cities, and we’ve invested years of internal resources to climb the rankings. Our website is one of the most authoritative in our industry, and trumps local search. Through technical best practice, well timed content and a little marketing savvy we've kept ahead of the curve. But as they say, there comes a point where the best way forward is to take a step back and figure out where you excel. The banal web mantra “do what you do best, outsource the rest” has never been more true than for a business crippled by its growing pains. And boy, do we know growing pains.

About 12 months back we reached this point and relieved our internal team of their tireless duty to SEO. In full disclosure: I silently cheered the day No Yelling decided to outsource SEO. We’ll concede; we’re not only unequipped to handle SEO, we also think it’s boring. Better described as an agency, our driving school focuses on selling contracts to contractors. That's what we do. We come to work to keep the money making engine oiled, because that’s what we’re good at.

The problem is, we've learned too much about SEO to pay for it without quality control. So, we’ve spent 12 months shopping around. We've hired some reputable names in search. We've also fired some reputable names in search. Today we'll admit it; it's 12 months down the track and we’re disappointed. All we can say about our search for a quality SEO company is that we are certain of what we're not looking for, but we haven't given up yet.

To break it down, here's what we're not looking for from an SEO company—

1. Search strategies: unaccounted for
From the client’s perspective, there are only two reasons why they haven't yet heard about a strategy. You're either a lazy communicator, or you're a lazy SEO. Regardless, we make no distinction here. If you charge thousands per month, we expect contact from a strategist. Recognise that we all have a story to share and leverage it.

2. Baffling monthly reports
Sure, you have to be accountable for a month’s work but we have no time for fluff. Get to the point. We’ve seen (close to) all the search related graphs there are. We’re serious about the web and we analyse our analytics. If you ever think it's data your client is after, remember that SEOmoz and Google Analytics can do it better for less.

3. Unmanaged outsourcing
Coming from the driving school industry where outsourcing to contractors is the name of the game, this stumps us the most. Don’t compromise your brand of service with blundering contractors. Cheap SEO contractors need specific tasks and a short leash. See the case in point below.

4. Low quality citations
We like natural link profiles, and citations look dirty without authoritative backlinks in complement. Ipso facto if your reports parade lists of business directory links built over the last month, throw them in the bin. We’re not interested. We can do this ourselves in an hour, and so can anybody else.

5. Spammy guest posts
And whilst we’re on the topic of low quality links, let’s not stop at citations. Web guru Matt Cutts shared his thoughts on the fall of guest blogging at the start of this year, and we share his sentiment. The good news is we’re not after spammy guest posts, so instead consider this point...

6. Missed content opportunities
If you ever miss an opportunity for your client to contribute their story or expertise to the web, you’ve missed your mark. Mentioned earlier, the idea that every client has a story to share is key to a holistic SEO strategy. If you can find an angle, we want to work with you to create the content you need. Do nothing else but this well, and you are bounds ahead of your peers. We want to pay you thousands for a job well done.

7. Stale strategy goals
Because you’re paid a retainer, we want consistent value for money. Optimising for keywords already in the top rankings in a low competition industry is a cash grab at our expense. Take your hands out of our pocket, and explore other avenues for keyword optimisation. When you reach goals, it’s time to reevaluate strategy.

And that's it

Seven reasons that set our alarm bells off every time. But we're still hiring.

As it stands, this webpage is an open invitation to any SEO, content marketer or account manager looking to pick up a contract. The only condition is that you think you might be who we're looking for. Email us here or tweet an SEO you know.