INSIGHT: Live example – how an SEO agency tried to trick this business owner

This SEO agency sent a business owner a video demonstrating how they weren't ranking - but they were. I show you what they did & the real situation.

Live example - how an SEO agency tried to trick this business owner
Summary
How an SEO Agency Pitch tried to hide the correct information from a client
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One of my clients received a pitch video from an SEO Agency in Australia claiming to to be able to improve their local rankings. Their video was deceptive & misleading. They actually didn’t show the correct information or share meaningful facts. 

In fact this is a website I launched in Sept 2020 that has delivered the most traffic the client has ever had in their history, now generating around 1,000 visitors per month. 

I will break down the elements of what they presented so you can avoid falling into the same trap. The agency preys on business owners who are unaware, time poor & don’t understand how their website is performing. Worst still, the SEO agency glosses over topics at a high level, from generic sales scripts that aren’t even really specific to the business. It’s just another tactic that agencies use to generate leads.

As a freelance digital marketing consultant, I’ll explain what they were attempting to do so that you don’t get caught wasting your budget on these types of companies.

The SEO agency didn't show my client they already ranked top 3

This agency pitch video didn’t reveal all the facts

Here is the pitch video the SEO agency had sent via email. It attempts to provide a live analysis of why my client’s website was not ranking with an offer to fix the situation. Guess what, they were! 

In fact, they have top 3 positions for more than 50 different keyword phrases plus record levels of website visitor traffic.

Watch the video & then I’ll explain the details they didn’t show.

SEO Agency demonstrates website errors as potential opportunity to win search positions
Play Video about SEO Agency demonstrates website errors as potential opportunity to win search positions

How the agency kept information out of the SEO pitch

Can you be any more blatantly deceptive than this? In fact I can’t figure out why they even did this.


  • They set their screen to display the search results from the bottom of a search page.


  • They presented the idea that my client is getting beaten by competitors, they aren’t.


  • They don’t show the complete picture.

 

Compare the screen shots below to see it for yourself. Even better, try a live search & see what result you get. 

The agency pitch has misleading information, so what does that tell you?

1. Try replicate what they are showing you.

You have to do this on a computer you don’t normally use or in a browser mode that isn’t being tracked with all tracking cookies cleared. This helps to show results that don’t include influences from your previous browsing history.

I did it myself & immediately saw what they weren’t showing in the video, they had cut off the top half of the search results, the most important information that showed my client was showing up in the first few results. Yes, that’s right – they sent a pitch video trying to get my client to use them for SEO even though they were already ranking.

I went back and looked at the video & in the browser you can’t see the top of a normal Google Search screen, the part that has the option to switch to news or image results. You can also see they were scrolled halfway down their browser & deliberately not showing the top half.

What else did I notice from the video pitch?

  • Scripted sales pitch – when you listen to the wording & how the person speaks you can quickly tell it is a scripted sales pitch they have been provided. It isn’t a really in depth analysis of my client’s website & it could have been done using 3rd party online tools. Instead they focus on something simple to create attention and fear.
 
 

  • Speed – they talk fast, they open screens quickly & they flash through the analysis relatively fast. Firstly they don’t want to give away too much, but most likely (and I’m assuming) but they have to reach a quota of calls for the day, so they need to move through these live examples quickly. I had to cut the intro out to protect the identity of the agency, but it was one long slur of scripted sales spiel without even pausing.
 
 
 
 
  • What keyword – it makes sense to ask a business owner what they’d like to rank for, but that assumes they aren’t ranking for it already. In this example they were (I’ll explain below) but that doesn’t mean that is the right phrase or a relevant keyword that will help the business. A business owner might not be thinking like a potential client & therefore certain phrases or terms may not be extremely relevant.
 
 
 
 
  • Are they searching for something relevant? In this example the salesperson has typed a service + location search. This is fairly common, but they typed ‘point of sale display greater sydney’ rather than ‘point of sale display sydney’. For all the sites I manage I have not seen any data to show that anyone uses the phrase ‘greater sydney’ when they are looking for things in their local area. Therefore the results for this type of search result could be completely useless & it is a weird phrase usage when the client didn’t provide that phrase.
 
 
 
 
  • What are they displaying on the screen? Look closely and you’ll see they aren’t showing the top of the Google Search Result. That’s right they have scrolled down and it is obvious because;
    • Most searches that include a location will display a Google Map results box, this screen doesn’t.
    • You can’t see the ‘news, images’ or ‘results’ stats under the search phrase window.
    • You can see another result that is cut off just under the search box.
    • The scroll bar on the right is about half way.
 
 
 
 
 
  • Does checking a competitor help with SEO? Sort of, notice how quickly he skims the competitor page, then uses a web browser widget to pick up basic set up errors. Some of that is relevant, meaning, if your site is set up correctly, your content is better etc then you may have a better chance of ranking vs competitors. Although there are so many more factors involved, that a quick check like this is fairly useless.
 
 
 
Still not convinced, let me show you just how bad this SEO pitch is.

2. Look at their pitch email again.

In this example they are claiming to have done research on the industry. Where is it?

Where is proof or any piece of valuable information that can demonstrate any research has been done? Nothing was provided in the video other than hiding a real search result & showing a few errors on another website. That isn’t industry research that will lead to incredible new levels of business.

As I have already shown in the live examples, my client is already beating these other brands.

3. Try & see what experience they have.

Using LinkedIn or even a general Google Search try and find out who the person is that is pitching to you, what experience do they have, where is the company located, do they have reviews etc? You have to do some due diligence to ensure the people know what they are talking about.

Don’t get me wrong, kids out of university can be incredibly brilliant digital marketers but if you look at the context of this pitch you have to wonder. Let’s put the pieces together;

  • Generic sales pitch email.
  • Rushed video introduction reading off a script without really even taking a breath.
  • An analysis that was hiding the most important element, my client was in the top 3 of a Google search
  • Offering industry research which was basically finding a few errors on a competitor’s website
  • A LinkedIn profile either not complete or quite literally this person is still studying at University with no track record.
 
Now maybe his role is to solicit the leads, turn them into ‘warm’ potential clients for a more experienced digital marketing or SEO expert to then execute the work. Although none of that is clear in the email or the video, so who knows.
 
The thing is, their pitch contains misleading information, so what does that tell you about the business?

Did they even look at a relevant search phrase?

The client they were trying to pitch to actually sells more than ten different product variations, therefore choosing a single phrase isn’t that much use. Maybe as a starting point you could use it, as an indicator perhaps, but it may not necessarily be the primary driver for their business. 

In this example they also used ‘greater sydney’ in the search term, I don’t know anyone who would search this way and across all the sites I manage, I haven’t seen this pop up as a phrase people use. Google will most likely still serve Sydney based results.

Yes, people will search for ‘xxxxx Sydney’ or ‘xxxxx Melbourne’ or maybe even ‘xxxxx South Coast’ but not ‘greater Sydney’ and the relevance of this is pretty important because maybe you don’t rank for ‘greater Sydney’ but you do for lots of other locations that have thousands of searches every month. 

Relevance is sometimes more important. This is how agencies can sometimes trick business owners. They will show a search term, but maybe not the volumes being searched for & this can create a fear of missing out.

Secondly there might be other variations that are more suitable that don’t include a location in the phrase. So doing this type of analysis to say ‘your competitors are beating you’ is just rubbish. Even if they missed out on this phrase, they might be ranking on hundreds of others.

What showed up on a completely different computer?

Just to make sure I wasn’t going crazy, I tried the same search on a different computer using a different web browser. As you can see the results are completely different to what was shown in the SEO Agency pitch video. In fact there were lots of Google pay per click ads, a maps result & then organic search results which included my client in the top few results.

So I have absolutely no idea what the agency was going on about, let me share more proof.

Guess what, My client's website is recognised for 1,000+ search terms

To be really sure, I jumped straight into Google Search Console. It gives you Google’s actual view of what is going on.

This client’s website gets top three Google organic keyword search rankings for more than 50 different phrases. Sure, not every single one is super relevant, but many of them are. 

On the right is an example of some of the keywords which is data taken directly from Google Search Console of phrases from Australian searches in the last 28 days.

Any business owner can see this information for free & check how they are performing, what pages on their site are working and other information.

This is another reason why I know the details provided in the SEO Agency pitch video were incorrect. Apart from them hiding information in the video, I have access to the real data. This is why it is important every business owner knows how to read their data, learn more here.

Let me show you just how much this website’s organic search traffic has grown in the next section.

They also have enjoyed Organic search traffic growth

Here is the real story of the growth this website is experiencing from organic search traffic. Yes the chart is cumulative, but it shows a steady increase in not impressions and clicks to the site. For this project it has been just over twelve months work, most of it done early on & then incremental additions via case studies or examples of executions. 

So while there hasn’t been constant, intensive SEO performed on the site, there has been constant growth achieved because the right foundations were put in place. This included a lot of unique content for this brand which is helping it beat competitors in the same industry. 

Just to illustrate this point further, you can use external tracking tools that can provide an estimate on keyword trends. As you can see in the report below, my client has enjoyed really solid growth in 2021, the first time they’ve had top ten search results for things other than their own business name. 

Although let’s go one step further.

Looking at Website visitor trends since 2018

In the reports above I can demonstrate just how significant the changes I made to their website have been. Excluding paid advertising, my client enjoyed the most website traffic they have ever had. Keep in mind they didn’t think people in their industry searched online for their products or services. 

They do.

The first report is a summary going back to 2018 & you can see the difference once I launched their new website in September 2020. The second report from Google Analytics shows any recorded history going back to 2015, comparing all traffic vs the volume from organic search. Again, you can see the rapid growth in website visitor volumes from September 2020 with their new website, it dips around Christmas time and then picks up again, building momentum.

More traffic equals more leads & business growth.

They are enjoying the most website visitor traffic they have ever had in 7 years, around 1,000 visitors per month. They now enjoy a regular flow of potential leads. You can see traffic drops off around Christmas time which makes sense given their focus is helping brands in retail stores, early 2022 sees the volumes pick up again as the world returns to normal and brands execute their in store marketing strategies for the year.

So yes, there are probably more opportunities to get website traffic for more niches, to work harder on certain keyword phrases etc, but based on the example the agency sent in their pitch, they are already getting a good share of visibility.

Doing online competitor tracking and analysis

Looking back to August 2021
Even if all of the information presented above wasn’t enough, the other measuring element that was put in place was to track key competitors & their relative performance. While nothing will be as accurate as having direct access to each site’s Google Analytics data, you can get an indication on performance to help make decisions on the quality of the digital marketing being completed.

The data above was taken from online comparison tracking from 150 different search keyword phrases that were being used in the industry. I was able to create content using this information, compare website pages across competitors & develop the SEO strategy using this information.


A snapshot today
Doing a competitive analysis based on just 60 or keyword search phrases related to point of sale displays, I can see there are three companies getting the lion share of search traffic visibility including Genesis Retail Displays, Abbe & Visy. Cre8exhibits who the SEO agency highlighted in the video seem to get practically zero visibility in comparison. 

It makes you wonder why they even chose them as a comparison or a benchmark, but this is an example of how very high level analysis can deliver the wrong assumptions or outcomes. 

Does great digital marketing lead to more sales?

Even if you didn’t believe a word I have written on this page, below is a brief testimonial directly from my client talking about the impact my digital marketing consulting as been. Now keep in mind they are basing this on whether the lead came through the website via a form. There are quite a few people that haven’t used the form and just called the phone number on the site or from their Google My Business profile, so the $200,000 figure could be conservative.

Could this website be getting more traffic

Yes absolutely. I would be a liar if I said it had reached its potential.

 

Could they rank for more keyword volumes – yes.

 

Could they get more traffic for existing keywords – yes

 

Can they broaden the keywords they get found for – yes

 

 

The answer is nearly always yes because with digital marketing there is no limit to what you can achieve. It all comes back to strategy, execution, time and available budget. These days it is crucial to be able to execute & deliver things that are unique to your business, so for this client it is showing off their incredible work, providing industry education etc.

 

 

Coming back to this SEO agency pitch, it makes you wonder how they can sleep at night when they isolate a single item & hope to win confidence off the back of that by purposely not disclosing the right information.

Paul D'Ambra

Paul D'Ambra

I love to re-energise businesses by injecting energy into their marketing using data-driven consumer insights. I’ve motivated start-ups, small business owners and six-figure corporate brands to deliver incredible marketing impact.

Whether you are a start-up or existing business, you may find yourself stuck and unsure how to execute to achieve your goals. Is your business in need of an overhaul? Maybe you need help managing workflows? Are you struggling to understand the value of your business and the direction it needs to grow & flourish?

I can solve that for you

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