In today’s world more and more people are turning to the internet for information, products, and services. As with all great shifts in the environment, there are dishonest people who capitalize on others’ trust.

In an effort to stem the rising tide of people who are selling the number one spot on Google, and the easy way to make millions online. I am going to provide you a list of signs that the consultant, or firm, you are hiring is selling you snake oil.

None of these signs by themselves mean that the person is totally dishonest, but the more of these you see, the more weary you should be. 

1)     They promise number 1 rankings in the search engines

This is a classic, anyone who promises number one immediately, is a liar. If they haven’t even looked at your website, there is certainly no one who can promise you that. True there are some niches where there is very little to no competition. However, those niches are few and far between, and even then it still takes time to make it to the top of the serps.

2)     They do not provide any real detail on their services

Vague terms are a favorite of snake oil salesman. Some consultants do not want to bore a client with talk of meta data, internal linking, and broken links. If all they do is through out vague terms like “sales funnel optimization” & “maximization of site structure efficiency” then they probably don’t even know exactly what they are going to do.

3)     They are hard to get ahold of

If you are paying or are expected to pay them any amount of money, and you cannot get ahold of them. You should be suspicious, this means either you and your website are not a priority, or they are avoiding you.

4)     They have a secret weapon to beat everyone else

With the amount of information available, and the competitive research out on the web. It is very very very unlikely that someone has a secret weapon that no one else has heard of, so be very weary of claims like these.

5)     They cannot provide past examples of work

True some people are just starting off, and have no actual past experience. I was there once. If this is the case they should disclose this upfront, and the price of their services should reflect this. If they are trying to charge what you feel is unreasonable without proof of past work, don’t pay it.

6)     They constantly tell you that you are wrong

Asking questions is your right as the client. If you ask why there are less visits to your website now, as opposed to when they started, and all they do is tell you that you are reading the analytics wrong. They are probably stealing your money.

7)     All you get is a bill at the end of the month

If you are not receiving some sort of report on your progress, there is more than likely none. Firms that are ripping you off don’t want you to realize what’s going on until it’s over. Make sure you know exactly how things are going.

8)     Success is very vague

Whenever I begin with a new client, we talk about the goal of their website. Some want leads, some want more sales, some just want brand awareness. We set concrete goals, and chase after them. If your firm’s vision of success for you is a better web presence for your website, that is very vague and relative. Try and get them to lay out concrete measures of success.

9)     They do not install or look at any sort of analytics

Google Analytics is free, and easy to use. If your firm/consultant doesn’t at least those, then it will be nearly impossible for them to prove you’re website is doing any better. At the same time, it will be much harder for you to prove it isn’t. If you find yourself in this position, just fire them, and move on.

10)  They are constantly blaming algorithm changes

Google changes things from time to time. However they do not do this randomly or malignantly. They do this to improve their service. If an algorithm change is the reason that you are not doing better, that means that they are doing something the search engines saw as bad or outdated. Therefore it is not a good sign for their service. 

I hope that these tips help you identify the good firms and consultants from the bad. Remember to always be cautious when someone promises you something that is too good to be true.

Chris & Jamie Kent.  Getting into internet marketing because he thought he could do it all better, Chris has been working with companies of all shapes and sizes all over the world. He began working with local businesses to help them stand out in their communities, he has since worked with multi-national com