How to evaluate trustworthy LinkedIn and SEO services

Opinions of an industry derive from personal experience or hearsay. The 2019 Ipsos Global Trust in Professions poll ranked trust levels in politicians at 10 per cent and advertising consultants at eight per cent. Whilst digital marketers were not separated, it would be reasonable to make a similar correlation to advertising.

Significantly, in 2019, the Small Business Ombudsmen, Kate Carnell urged the ACCC to take action against dodgy SEO consultants who were “giving small businesses a raw deal, over-promising and under-delivering”.

I believe it may only be time before unprincipled LinkedIn services face similar scrutiny.

But the reality is every profession has a mixture of good, bad, brilliant and horror operators. No industry is 100 per cent infallible.

Essential marketing

Digital marketing is essential for every business in some way. The aim to increase visibility, target, and influence and convert clients is universal. And a strong website, SEO and LinkedIn are vital to attain those goals. And there can be much at stake with constrained budgets, timelines and objectives.

All that glitters isn’t always gold and silver bullet talk can sway. When combined with a lack of awareness of what constitutes a high quality or poor service, the risks are great. Money, time, status and clients can vanish.

There is no quick fix magic solution for sustainable success as it takes time, rigour and strategy. So, it’s vital to have a framework to sift the tin from the gold. 

LinkedIn markers

Run from businesses who:

  • Show contempt for LinkedIn’s User Agreement and best practices.
  • Promote or use unauthorised automation tools for bulk invitations.
  • Sells and/or personally use engagement pods, lempods, paid followers or likes and endorsements.
  • Outsource overseas and integrate third-party plagiarised content.
  • Focus only on lead generation.
  • Promise a defined number of leads.
  • Don’t have a website and digital footprint.

Many of the above compromise reputation damage, profile suspension and LinkedIn “jail”. Remember, huge networks are not a predictor of quality.

Look for business that:

  • Have at least three years LinkedIn strategy and training experience.
  • Refuse to cut corners.
  • Have a quality vs quantity focus.
  • Have a bespoke vs one size fits all approach.
  • Respect research and best practice.
  • Write original and educational content.
  • Demonstrates strong technical knowledge.

SEO Markers

I asked leading digital and SEO specialist Doreen Brown to share her key evaluation tips below.

Run from businesses who:

  • Promise page one or position one on Google. No one can make this guarantee as Google ultimately has the final decision here, which is why online users will get different results based on their location, personalisation and algorithm variations.
  • Sell SEO packages based on the number of keywords ranked. If an agency or consultant sells packages based on ranking you for a certain number of keywords on the first page of Google, head for the hills. This is an old school, out of date tactic that does not provide the best return on investment.

Look for business that:

  • Are user-intent focused. Behind every Google search is a user looking for answers to their questions. SEO should be connecting you to your ideal customer or audience online by understanding user intent and matching your content to this.
  • Commit to ethical and evidence-based strategies. SEO is a long-term game. Your agency or consultant should be focusing on a strategy that includes building and growing your online presence over time, not overnight.

There are many top operators in Australia. Identifying them will be more important than ever as businesses move forward from 2020 and the impact of COVID.

Sue Parker, Founder, DARE Group Australia

DARE Group Australia is a valued content partner of Inside Small Business