The problem with this industry is we have tons of ?Yes Men? and ?Snake Oil Salesmen?. Very few want to speak the truth about this problem and we need more people vocal about what I see as an infection within our own industry. If you are a buyer then listen up, and if you are new read this twice. No Service Is >Insert Animal Here< Approved By Google: One of the most obvious scams that sellers get away with is saying their service is somehow magically approved by Google and that you have no risk using their service. The only thing approved by Google is posting tons of quality content and hoping people share it. Feel free to get on your knees, pray to Rand Fishkin, and light a few candles, but the reality is link building does not fit into Googles code of conduct. Agencies do try to formulate their processes around keeping a website safe. Sorry to break it to buyers, but no service is Google compliant no matter how many special characters they put around ?WhiteHat?. Does that mean their bad services? No. WhiteHat on forums means something different than to the ?Onsite Optimization? plus ?Unique Value? gurus. Mark my words, BlackHat SEO will not get you penalized, poorly done BlackHat SEO will. A WhiteHat SEO service leans towards safety and quality rather than speed. No Reports Usually Means No Service: You have to draw the line in the sand here. When I was a bit younger in this industry I agreed that no reports was an ?OK? idea. Well I?ve learned better and you should too. Ask yourself why the hell a company you are paying money too won?t give you a report on the work they did? Oh because of Private Links? Bullshit =) Clients still can see the links within Webmaster Tools and competitors should not be able to see the links if the SEO Agency was smart enough to install Link Privacy Plugins. Only on rare occasions could reports not be given, but even in those circumstances only parts of an SEO strategy should be hidden. So what should you do about this? Start demanding reports or fire them. I love handing reports to my clients because I know they will be happy with the quality of work we delivered to them. If the SEO Agency isn?t happy handing over a report, you probably don?t want to look inside of it anyway! Do They Advertise? If Not Fire Them Over It: Let me drop some truth to you. People who can grow their company can grow yours. Do you want some spineless business man/women promoting your company when they can?t even advertise? Some people complain about tutorials gaining a person business. I hope it gains them business! See I don?t want to read or learn anything from someone who aren?t smart enough to reach out and connect with people. Banner advertisements, content marketing, and everything in-between isn?t a bad thing. Let me ask you this. Do you want an honest lawyer? F*ck no! You want a crooked lawyer because you know he will work for you and push the limits. (Saul Goodman comes to mind). So do you want your SEO Agency passively marketing themselves and playing elitist? No. =) Power Ranger Creatives, Cheap Entry Levels, And Resellers: Fire them right now. You want to hire a real SEO Agency that employs qualified people, trains them, and has a registered business. Fiverr resellers sadly exist and flourish with low entry requirements until they hurt the whole industry with massive mark ups on prices that don?t move keywords. Real companies pay taxes, health insurance on employees, and even have accountants. How can you spot them? First thing you need to pay attention to is how they conduct business and advertise. Are they milking copyrights from famous brands? A real marketer knows you do not and I repeat do not rip on copyrights, especially if they?re from Hollywood. I know someone personally who did this and was sent a cease and desist letter. So if you are a buyer, avoid those clowns at all cost and if you are a seller, think twice. Next do a search for usernames, emails, and so forth on all micro service sites. If you DOX them you might find something. Limited Availability Should Not Be Filled By You: Often times you will see ?limited spots available? on ads. I?m perplexed by the idea that companies do not want to grow and scale. They act as if their formula is only available in certain quantities. This could not be further from the truth. It actually makes me think their resellers because they know Fiverr Gigs cannot handle tons of orders like well trained staff members can. True, Twitter verified account services or TechCrunch links aren?t something you offer on a mass scale and it can have its limits, but link building, content, and other SEO processes can scale and actually become cheaper in greater quantities. So the next time someone says they have limited spots, just know their greasing you up from the start. They want you to think that you can only get their secret sauce for a limited time. Maybe they want you to buy the hype so you never feel the screwing. Sir, I Can Rank You For A Long Time: I must get 2-3 phone calls a day with people who claim they can rank any keyword within Florida for $100 or so dollars. I really hope no one I know is doing that and if you are, shame on you. Furthermore, I hope noobs coming online who might own a B&M business can seek the truth. If an SEO Agency guarantees ranking improvements then hold them to it. If they promise 1[SUP]st[/SUP] positions then turn and walk away. You get what you pay for in any industry. If you buy a $150 package then know you will not necessarily rank on the first page for decently competitive keywords with a GreyHat service. The SEO Process works best over time and keyword movements generally make sizable gains within a 60-90 day period. If you buy a cheapo package then it might take you from position 300 to 90, but breaking into the zone of profitability normally requires a scaled campaign. The Harlots Of SEO Run Amok: Listen, business is business and we all have partnerships or strategies for growth, but you should think twice about hiring business men that cannot work well with their partners. Business men that have had more partnerships than you have fingers and toes, and half of them have closed up usually have unforeseen character flaws like honesty and loyalty. If these men cannot be forthcoming with their partners, what makes you think they can be forthcoming with you? Many of us learn the hard way that we should spend more time researching people before we get in bed with them. Remember this before I close this article. You are not just buying a service, you are buying a person. You are paying for their integrity and honesty, just as much as their ability??.