Agency Job

6 Ways Your Agency is Failing You

Sure you pay good money for fancy-pants agency representation and yeah, maybe things aren’t flowing quite as smoothly as you planned…so? If you can relate to any of the six deadly agency sins below it may be time to call Leverable and shed that expensive corporate SEO firm.

1. They treat your money like they’re M.C. Hammer…

Remember how impressed you were the first time you visited your agency? The glittering conference room floor-to-ceiling windows, the exposed steel beams and new-age “open” concept office? How about that double mocha-Frapuccino-latte-Americano the receptionist handed you? And did you notice all the white boards everywhere, just in case “a great idea strikes?” Well news flash, all those things cost money and we both know where it’s coming from (if you’re still unsure, hint: it’s the check you write them every month.) Maybe it’s time you asked yourself whether your hard-earned dollars are better spent on a foosball table for the agency break room (to “encourage creativity”) or on someone who spends day and night developing and implementing SEO tactics for your website.

2. They’re THISCLOSE to getting your site penalized…

“Just do a Google reinclusion request and you’ll be fine.” You’ve heard of black hat SEO tactics and you know they’re rampant but have you ever considered that underground SEOs operating out of conversion vans aren’t the only ones who employ them? Your agency could be engaging in high-risk activities and using your site as a guinea pig just to make sure you get the results you expect in an unreasonably short amount of time which is really, really bad news for you both once you get caught. But don’t worry, you’re probably fine unless your agency told you they’d move your site up X number of rankings in X amount of time when you signed on. Oh, they did tell you that?

3. Asking them to share information about your site is like trying to get nuclear secrets from North Korea…

So you hired a new grad with a computer science degree and you think it may be a good idea for them to take a look at some of the code or automated systems behind your new and improved site; no big deal, right? But when you ask your agency to go over some files or share their spreadsheets they get all “if we tell you then we’ll have to kill you.” Could be because their tactics aren’t on the up and up or perhaps because they don’t want you to realize you can do yourself what they’re charging you $200 an hour for. The reality is that it’s your site and you should have complete and total transparency about what’s going on behind the scenes, don’t you think?

4. Their SEO strategy is iron-clad – if it’s 2003…

Things change in SEO and they change quickly and one of the biggest downsides of agencies is that they’re slow to pick up these changes since it they’re usually relying on those with no experience or execs with too much experience too long ago to drive your campaign. If you hear words like “automated link building” and “spinning” and “MySpace” and “synergy” “more is better” buzzing around your campaign, be concerned. Be very concerned.

5. They think that SEO and great design are mutually exclusive…

Sure your new site looks pretty with all that Flash animation but why isn’t it ranking yet? Could be that your agency’s overlooking one of the fundamentals of good SEO, that is, integrated design. You can’t have one without the other and oftentimes the disjointed nature of agencies mean the people creating your pages aren’t necessarily worried about what signals they’ll send to search engines… bad news for your overall SEO strategy. Having less cooks in the kitchen means more thought from the beginning about how your design and SEO strategy can bolster each other. If your agency doesn’t recognize this simple principle you might want to ask yourself what else they’re missing.

6. Communication within the agency is slower than within the U.S. Government…

Say you call Bob at your agency to tell him you don’t want that title-tag on the homepage, after all but two days later, there it is, right at the top of your page. So what happened? Bob had to tell Sharon in design who then had to run it by Mark, your account manager, who happened to be on vacation and Ted (who was watching things for Mark) doesn’t really know who you or your company is so he just put it off for later. But Mary in development never got the memo that anything was going on at all so yep, two days after she was supposed to in the first place she pushed your site live and BAM…there’s the title tag you never wanted in the header. Herein lies the ultimate problem with agencies: they’re too big, too slow and too unconnected to really be effective.

There’s a fine line between a quality collective of experienced professionals and red tape and most agencies have long since crossed it. Save yourself some trouble and deal with one person – the same person who develops, approves, and implements your entire strategy. Now doesn’t that sound easy?

If you can relate all too well to some of these agency faux pas it just might be time to contact an experienced consultant.

Published 01/30/12, Edited 07/26/15.

About Emory Rowland

I'm an Atlanta SEO consultant and founder of Leverable. SEO has been part of my life for over a decade and always will be. I love helping people improve their search performance aka "lift for the good guys" through Leverable. I believe in the empowering capabilities and rewards of effective SEO. Follow me at Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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