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6 Signs Your Search Engine Optimization Agency Hire Was a Mistake

SEO Agency Hire Mistake - Man on Computer

If you put up a digital marketing campaign and nobody sees it, does it really exist?

With internet research and social interactions becoming an integral part of our daily work routine, marketing agencies have realized a shift from traditional, in-your-face advertising to more “hands-off,” content-based marketing. 

This is called inbound marketing. This style of marketing aims to make it easier for your ideal buyers to find you organically, and eventually convert into qualified leads. 

Of course, without search engine optimization (SEO), there’s no inbound marketing -- and that’s why you’re here, right? You flirted with a search engine optimization agency, and you either:

  1. Signed on the dotted line and aren’t seeing concrete results
  2. Got spooked by shady promises and never closed the deal

Because so much of your digital marketing strategy should rely on SEO best practices, it’s important to be able to quantify success, both internally and externally. Let’s dive into some tell-tale signs you need to switch SEO agencies: 

No Delight on Your Site? 6 Times to Blame Your Search Engine Optimization Agency 

Content is the backbone of B2B SEO marketing. But content isn’t just about picking an interesting topic and writing 300 words about it. Areas where the biggest SEO mistakes are made include:

  1. Keywords 
  2. Poor search ranking
  3. Elevated bounce rate
  4. Site UX
  5. Stagnation
  6. Shady tricks & the ol’ disappearing act

Let's dig in to some of the biggest SEO mistakes marketing agencies can make: 


Including relevant and specific keywords in your content helps good-fit leads find you organically through their search engine of choice. For instance, if your company produces PVC tubing, you would want to stay away from keywords such as “stainless-steel tubing” unless you’re trying to show the benefits of PVC over stainless steel. 

Content that your SEO agency produces should be industry-specific, relevant, and useful for anyone that might have an issue your product can solve. It should also create delight not only for your consumers, but also for your sales team, who’ll love having these resources to share in 1:1 emails and at trade shows! 

Low Search Ranking

Keywords play an integral role when attempting to rank in search results. Programs such as SEMrush and other SEO toolkit programs can help identify keywords relevant to your topic, and even keywords that your competitors are ranking for. Keeping that in mind, if your SEO agency folks are struggling to help you rank for even simple keywords, it might be time to consider a switch.

Now, why might they be failing at this?

  1. They never took you through buyer persona and journey workshops to identify your “perfect” target customer.
  2. They never interviewed your existing “perfect customers” to learn what triggered a need for your product and how they found you.
  3. They’re using excessively broad keywords (i.e. “tubing prices” instead of “pcb tubing prices''), causing you to be found by snow- and water-recreation enthusiasts instead of OEM engineers.

On the other hand, overusing keywords to manipulate search results is called keyword stuffing. Most search engine algorithms have provisions against keyword stuffing, and using this technique will almost certainly result in decreased rankings and conversion.

Keywords aren’t the only thing that affects search results. Consult your SEO agency and review its approach to: 

  • Meta descriptions:
    This is the preview text that shows up after a page title in Google search results. The meta description for each piece of content should include your primary keyword and a “catch” to pull the reader in and make them want the information inside.
  • Headings:
    SEO tips and tricks differ from agency to agency. In general, the headings of your article need to include your primary keyword and, in the case of search engine page titles, a “hook” that shows the reader the value of clicking their way to your page. 
  • Images:
    Using irrelevant images and no alt text will almost certainly damper your SEO efforts. Use images and video to break up the “wall of text” look that makes copy difficult to get through -- just make sure your sizes and formats don’t slow the page’s loading speed. (More on that in a sec.)
  • Links:
    Backlinks are an important part of search engine rankings. Your content writing team should link to both first- and third-party articles to reinforce that you’re a trustworthy resource and to signal to Google that your page is related to the linked content.

  • URLs:
    If your SEO agency is not including the primary keyword in the URL (also known as the slug), this will negatively affect your search rankings.

Elevated Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit your site and then leave after viewing only their initial page of entry. 

In most cases, an elevated bounce rate means that something with your site is either broken, or not SEO-optimized. Sites that have high bounce rates usually:

  • Take a while to load
  • Lack clear next steps for the reader that could keep them on your site longer
  • Have misleading titles and/or meta descriptions
  • Have blank pages and an abundance of technical errors
  • Have low-quality and under-optimized content, or have no content at all
  • Have an off-putting user experience 
  • Are asking for too much information

Inbound marketing agencies combat poor bounce rates with a number of tools, but mainly backlinks and calls-to-action (CTAs). The best SEO agencies will optimize every page on your website for lead capturing. 

Website UX

Technology has come a long way since the late 1990s early 2000s, when website development started booming. Unfortunately, for industries like manufacturing, that’s how they think digital marketing still works. Most SEO agencies know this -- and may try to use your perceived ignorance to their advantage.

 Your website is critical to SEO and inbound marketing, and if your site is plagued by:

  • slow loading speeds, 
  • non mobile-friendly design, 
  • and a plethora of technical issues, 

you can throw your chances of ranking out the window. 

Most inbound marketing agencies have a dedicated team of IT professionals working behind the scenes to ensure the back end of a website is also SEO friendly. 

If you’re hosting high volumes of unoptimized, high-resolution images or video natively on your site, and it’s slow to load, you can blame your marketing agency. That’s just one easy-to-understand example; there are dozens of others we won’t bore you with right now.

Another sure fire way to have low engagement and high bounce rates is if your site is not mobile-friendly. According to statista.com, over half of all web traffic between Q1 2015 and Q1 2021 was consumed on mobile devices (and that doesn’t even include tablets!) 

It’s safe to say, if your site isn’t optimized both for desktop and mobile, you will lose a large demographic of potential leads. 

There are other website design best practices that influence SEO indirectly. For example, a poorly laid-out website navigation bar may cause your visitor to get flustered and leave. If there are two things Google’s ranking algorithm hates, it’s:

  1. High bounce rate
  2. Low “average time spent on page”

What’s Driving Success Again? 

Do you know how your SEO agency defines success? Is it through keyword rankings or having low bounce rates?

More importantly, does it line up with your expectations?

You and your SEO company should have previously agreed-upon goals that help it measure: 

  • Fluctuations in organic traffic 
  • Keyword rankings
  • Your site’s search engine visibility
  • Your bounce and click-through rates, 
  • Average time spent on page
  • qualified leads generated from pay-per-click campaigns (if your agency also handles PPC)

If your SEO agency is failing to rank in search results, increase site traffic, generate quality and qualified leads, and quantify its success, run away.

Black Hat SEO & Other Magic Tricks: 

Earlier, we briefly mentioned how technology and website development have come a long way since the early 90’s/late 2000’s, and it’s safe to say that search engine algorithms, as well as SEO have matured greatly since then too. 

Black hat SEO is a technique to manipulate search engine results to achieve a higher ranking. This drives a website's position up in search results and in turn increases web traffic -- just not organically

However appealing that may sound, most search engines’ terms and conditions have sections against manipulation tricks. Breaking those terms and conditions can result in website penalties. Most search engine algorithms will automatically filter black hat tricks, but repeated offenders can have manual action taken against their sites and can even be delisted

Your SEO agency doesn’t have to be manipulating search engine results to be playing magic tricks on you though.

Do your social accounts and website still look bare nine months into your contract? Are you constantly having to initiate contact with your inbound marketing agency? If so, you could be dealing with a “ghost” agency. These agencies:

  • Consistently take days to respond to calls/emails,
  • Create content sporadically,
  • Is only “there” to collect a check from you each month

Don’t fall victim to ghost agencies - when choosing an inbound marketing agency, look for a proven track record of success. 

How a Search Optimization Agency Should Do Business

Look for an SEO/inbound marketing agency that has a proven track record of success. You shouldn’t have to wonder whether your partner “gets” your product and your buyers. What you SHOULD expect is updates on any successes and failures. 

Your SEO agency should act as an extension of your company where their success depends on yours, and vice versa. 

For more information on how inbound marketing and SEO can work with the right approach -- and agency -- head to our case studies page:

See SEO Success Case Studies