Downside of outsourcing SEO work overseas

I helped a one billion dollar company recover from a Google penalty by disavowing over 2.3 million backlinks. They got into this mess when an SEO company they worked with (in the United States) back in 2010 outsourced their link building to an overseas company in India.

The business I consulted for and helped recover from negative SEO was completely blindsided by this link-building tactic. My goal in writing this article on “the downside of outsourcing SEO work overseas” is to help you avoid SEO issues that will negatively impact your website.

My Expertise/Background

I’ve helped countless businesses recover from Google Penalties pertaining to poor link building and on-site issues that they never knew existed before contacting our agency. I’ve also grown our agency, The Media Captain, into one of the largest digital agencies in Ohio by deploying SEO tactics for our own business.

It Normally Goes Down Like THIS

The reason I’m skeptical about outsourcing SEO work overseas is because the majority of the time when I speak with someone who has been impacted by negative SEO, the conversation goes down like this:

  1. I wanted to rank on the first page of Google, just like my competitors
  2. I received an email from someone offering me SEO help for $99/month
  3. I went with this SEO company for $99/month and everything was fine, until suddenly, my rankings dropped
  4. I’m nowhere to be found on Google and I don’t understand why!
  5. Since then, I’ve worked with other SEO companies but my rankings still aren’t where they used to be

You Need a Good Foundation

SEO is an industry where if the right strategy isn’t properly deployed, it can do more harm than good for your company.

Imagine if your house was being built and the foundation was poor. You’d run into a lot of issues. The same holds true for SEO.

If you are seeking SEO assistance, ask the company your are looking to hire a simple question… “What will be your SEO strategy for my business?”

If they respond without asking any questions about your business goals and objectives, I recommend you continue your search elsewhere.

I wrote an article for Entrepreneur titled, “9 Key Questions to Ask an SEO Company Before Hiring It — or Firing It.” I recommend you read this so you have a comprehensive list of questions you can ask your SEO company before hiring them.

Why I’m Skeptical About Outsourcing Your SEO Overseas

In order to be successful with search engine optimization, you have to understand comprehensive business objectives, such as profitability, growth objectives and competitive analysis (in addition to SEO).

If you are a personal injury lawyer and 80% of your revenue comes from medical malpractice and only a small percentage of your business comes from workers compensation, the person managing your SEO needs to understand this and deploy a strategy based on metrics valuable to your business. The person in charge of your SEO should also be analyzing your competitors to see what they’re doing right while understanding your local market so they can deploy similar tactics for your campaign.

The reason I do not recommend outsourcing SEO work overseas (especially if the cost is under $199) is because they are likely not going to take the time to learn your business objectives and deploy clean tactics, which will lead to long-term growth. There is a chance they will take shortcuts, which can cause penalties and do more harm than good.

Let me Clarify

There are plenty of “SEO Companies” in the U.S. who act like they are doing link building work and thorough on-site analysis for their clients but they are merely outsourcing this as well. There are also plenty of companies that don’t have a proven track record. I don’t want to make it seem like every SEO Company in the United States deploys white hat tactics, because this is not the case, however, you have to be careful and do your due diligence before moving forward with a company.

Definition of Outsourcing

Our digital marketing agency is based in Columbus, Ohio. When I refer to outsourcing, I am mostly referring to work conducted anywhere outside of the United States. Anything under $199 is cheap for SEO. I’d be skeptical to work with anyone that charges under $500/month (but if you can find a bargain, all the power to you).

Why am I skeptical of working with someone who charges $199?

  • There will be no strategy involved with your campaign – After an initial conversation, you’ll just receive automated reports or you’ll speak with an “account specialist” who has no true understanding of SEO
  • There is a strong likelihood that low quality links will be built to your site
  • On-Site SEO won’t be completed
    • This means they won’t go through your website and analyze poor performing pages and provide recommendations to enhance these pages – Often times, a poor URL structure or lack of keyword density can lead to a page not ranking well!
  • The company you are working with won’t understand your local market
    • Once again, this comes down to the strategy. If the majority of your business comes from a suburb, your local SEO efforts should not be on the larger city, if this won’t drive conversions.

I’m Not Trying to Generalize

If there is an SEO company in Russia or India that has great reviews and you’ve done your due diligence talking to references and they are cheaper than options you are finding in the states, by all means, this can work for your business. Just be cautious and take my recommendations from this article into consideration.

Is it possible to be successful by outsourcing SEO?

Yes. If you have a very strong knowledge of SEO and feel like you can manage all components of an SEO campaign, then technically you can train anyone to help you with on-site and off-site SEO. This includes people overseas or virtual assistants.

Before hiring any SEO company, please make sure to ask for the following information:

  • Can you send me examples of successful links you’ve recently acquired for your clients?
  • Can you send me examples of on-site SEO recommendations you’ve completed?
  • Can you send me a list of references that have been satisfied with your work?
  • Do you guarantee page one placement and how long will it take to get on the first page of Google?
    • **Note – This is a trick question – A reputable SEO company won’t guarantee page one rankings on Google, as there is no guarantee for this.

Parting Shot

If you try and get a bargain by outsourcing your SEO, you’ll likely get mediocre or poor results.

Like any bargain hunter, you can always find a diamond in the rough, so I don’t want to generalize by saying that outsourcing your SEO overseas will always result in a negative experience.

You will be more likely to avoid long-term issues if you ask the right questions and ask for references.