How to spot an SEO gremlin

Spot dodgy SEO tactics before they end up on your site

Does the mere thought of search engine optimisation make you want to hide under a doona? You are not alone. For most people, SEO seems confusing, overwhelming, and leg-quiveringly expensive. It’s something that almost every business owner wants, but it’s considered to be a process that only the brainiest of all web-nerds can handle.  In actual fact, SEO is, for the most part, a simple process. It takes a bit of time and a bit of know-how but it really aint rocket science.  But if you’re short on time, and you don’t have the SEO scoop, then you might seek the help of a professional.
There are some fantastic, honest and knowledgeable SEO folk out there that can help you. Equally, there are some less credible consultants or ‘SEO Gremlins’ and it’s important to know the difference if you’re planning on spending your hard-earned moula.
The trouble is that most people don’t know what to expect from an SEO consultant. How do you know if you’ve hired an absolute pro or an utter gremlin? Well, I’ve put together a list of questions that you should ask before you sign on the dotted line.

Optimisation has three arms: technical, keywords and backlinks

Here are a few starting questions for each.


– Will your consultant conduct an audit of your site?
– Will they check for speed, 404’s, crawl errors and site responsiveness?
– Will they endeavour to fix any issues?
NOTE: Some technical issues will need web-developer attention.


– How many keywords will your consultant have you ranking for?
– Which keywords specifically?
– Can they provide a list?
– Are those keywords relevant to your business and WILL THEY CONVERT?
– What sort of competition are you up against for those keywords?
– Is it realistic that you will outrank your competitors?
– What do they mean when they say ranking? Page one of Google, top three results on page one or, the first result on the first page? Be clear about what they are promising.
Keyword optimisation requires a reasonable amount of research. You want the best, obtainable keywords for your business that will also convert. After all, you’re investing in SEO to drive sales not to boost your ego.


– How will your consultant earn backlinks for your site?

Back in the day, an SEOer could buy hundreds of backlinks from spammy sites to boost rankings. Nowadays the Google algorithm is much smarter. It recognises the difference between organic links that are rich in content, and spammy links that offer no search value.  

Buying backlinks is a dodgy and old-school tactic that could harm your long-term relationship with Google. See Are you on Googles Naughty List?

What you want: authentic links from authoritative domains full of juicy content. 

What you don’t want: dodgy, bought, backlinks from rubbish sites.

Want to optimise your website the right way?

5 Steps to Effective Keyword Research

The 5 steps to effective keyword research

(& attracting your dream clients online)

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