4 Major Problems With SEO Agencies




  • October 31, 2015

    seo agency problems


    When I first decided to become an independent SEO consultant, I was blown away by the number of people contacting me wanting me to do their SEO. I didn’t need to do any marketing or outreach to pick up quality clients – they came to me.


    Why was this happening?


    They all told a common story of how they had worked with agencies in the past and had nothing but bad experiences – and I could certainly understand where they were coming from. They had been burned too many times and were simply fed up with SEO agencies.


    Agencies have become notorious for their ‘churn and burn’ business models, high staff turnover rates, poor customer service, and above all else – SEO agencies don’t do SEO very well!!


    Perform a quick search in Google for “seo companies” or “seo services” and you are sure to find agencies offering “FREE SEO Audits”, “Guaranteed Results” and other useless gimmicks to get your signature on the dotted line.


    Then you come across the independent consultant and find someone who is honest, open and transparent and sells you on reputation and quality of service. But they’re only a sole operator. Are they as good as they claim to be? Can they handle the workload?


    Who should you go with? The big agency or the individual consultant?


    To help you decide, here are 4 major problems with SEO agencies and why you should consider the working with an SEO consultant instead:


    1. Agency’s senior team does the pitch, junior team does the work


    dodgy salesmanAgencies often present well with their most experienced guys doing the sales pitch, but this is usually nothing more than a facade. Once you’ve signed up, your work is handed over to inexperienced junior staff members or outsourced teams who really don’t know what they’re doing.


    When you finally realize this because you don’t see the results you were promised, you’ll look back at that guy who presented like Don Draper and know that it was all smoke and mirrors. Turns out he was no better than that dodgy used car salesman down the road.


    But hey, that’s their ‘churn and burn’ business model, and they’ve already got what they needed out of you!


    With the SEO consultant, you won’t get any sales fluff or fancy presentations, but you will get someone who truly knows what they are doing, and someone who lives and dies by their personal reputation to get you results.


    2. The best SEOs don’t work in agencies


    Typically, agencies will pay their SEOs anywhere from $ 45k to $ 70k for someone with multiple years experience. For industry experts, this is well below what they’re worth which is why they tend to end up working in higher paying in-house roles, or working for themselves.


    High level in-house SEOs can expect to be paid $ 100k plus – which is well out of reach of agency rates where quality of work isn’t as important as big profit margins.


    3. Agency staff are overworked


    Agency SEOs are often well over their work capacity and often don’t have time to service all of their clients in a given month. But this is not the SEOs fault! The junior SEO manager will be doing their absolute best to do the right thing by you, but they don’t have a say in their workload or the company’s ‘churn and burn’ business model.


    On the other hand, the SEO consultant is the master of his own destiny. They are in full control of how much work they take on in order to maintain their level of service, in order to maintain their personal reputation.


    4. Personal relationships matter


    Imagine being with an agency and having 3 different account managers in 3 months. This situation is more common than you might think and it leaves you with an extremely impersonal experience. Not only does it leave you with an impersonal experience, you are constantly working with (and paying for!) someone who doesn’t really know your site or understand your business/product.


    The nature of agencies is that they have a high staff turnover rate and you can form a much stronger, long-term relationship with a consultant because you can be sure they aren’t going anywhere!


    TL;DR Version


    If you are easily impressed by presentations and slide shows, and if you are happy for busy, inexperienced junior staff to work on your account – choose the SEO Agency.


    If your business and website are important to you; if you want the most experienced people working on your site; if personal relationships matter to you – choose the SEO consultant.



    There are pros and cons for both SEO agencies and consultants, and I’m certainly not saying that all SEO agencies are bad – in fact, I will usually recommend a select few agencies to people if I’m unable to take on their work myself. There are some good agencies out there, but unfortunately for unsuspecting clients, they are few and far between and it can turn out to be a very expensive and painful lesson.

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