Seeking Legal Advice: for 2021 I decided to spend more on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and go with a local SEO team so I could meet them locally and share ideas. I came to them asking for 2 things – more traffic and increase rankings. I signed on 12/28 and now after 3 months on the clock (and over 2,000.00 expenses) – my Google Analytics for 2021 YTD are down across the board compared to 2020. I keep waiting to see TRENDING UP – I am watching traffic every day and we are not gaining ANY uptick (actually declining). As such, I am seeking to void the 12 month contract I signed. They have an early buyout option at 75% of the remainder of the contract balance, but I want to void now based on zero ROI and possibly breach of performance? What are they typical legal actions that come up in this type of matter? Can I use data analytics that show zero ROI after 90 days? I do trust SEO, I just think I hired the wrong firm and cannot afford another 7,500.00 with them and have ZERO increase in analytics to show?
16 👍🏽 13 🤭 30
[filtered from 96 Answers]
3 months is NOT long enough.
2000 gbp is nothing for proper SEO.
Why did you sign a contract for 12 months?
I had been spending just a few hundred dollars with smaller firms that were a month to month and my perception was if I went with a more established firm with a larger budget I may anticipate better results. I have seen traffic grow from a SEO budget of $300
There are too many factors. The right Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for you will advise you beforehand whether something is achievable within budget. They'll then use historic data and forward marketplace data to ascertain time to rank.
I can tell you now, timescales and budgets are wild variables but in most cases 3 months isn't enough.
What's your domain and what are you going after?
We have ZERO idea what they were doing for you / we don't know your industry or location to conclude specific types of variables.
$2000 over 3 months is really nothing though. We need more info specific to what's going on before we can give any real input
Going to take a lot longer than 3 months, especially with a budget that small.
Also, the reality is that no one can guarantee results with Google without fail. They can do what seems like all of the right things a Google update comes along and rewrite the rules.
Unless they guaranteed specific results and it's in a contract I'd say you have very little hope of seeing anything back and as long as they're doing work that's fair. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn't a golden bullet, unfortunately.
Sorry to hear that. Did you also checked the rankings for the keywords? While budget is on the lower side, there must be some improvement.
The growth is minimal maybe 2 to 3% on just a handful of keywords. My challenge is I've spent over $3000 and honestly with no increase in business it's hard to justify the expense I might as well not hire them and I would be up $3000 and have the same traffic??
You speak about rankings but when someone asks you about improved keywords it seems you are relating them to a percentage of traffic… how was this stated in the scope of work- improved keyword rank or improved traffic by X% from these keywords?
Sometimes for a local company there is only a finite amount of traffic for some keywords
Fong » Wick
Maybe they are using $300 for send you bot traffic.😆
Wick » Fong
I did see 2 times when there has been a site copy for a new website, squ'd the data.. but not suspect here. I know they are trying but I believe it's to cut and dry and basic. Their focus on page optimization and structure is certainly good for long-term, but I came to them needing revenue first and asked for traffic. They do not talk about back links and with one blog a month I don't see how they're offering is that competitive. They have a local office and when I visited there were at least 20 people and they have faith in organizations that have employees and have been open for years as they must be doing something right. Perhaps it's the industry I'm in which is not liked by Google or FB (hemp)…
Aasim » Wick
Your suspicion about not liked by Google may have some legs. I've done some work for hempcoat.com. They have over 12k backlinks, seems fishy. Guess what the traffic website has this month? Just 3, Yes only three people (Ahrefs). Suppose the tool is wrong, even then traffic is not more than 15/20.
Hemp is quite competitive industry. But in your case, there's also lack of effort on the agency's part. You're right, one blog a month will not do any good. Ask them for their other packages.
Let's start with a Google search of "how long does SEO take?" The 90 day concern is a very real thing with clients. I try to make sure to schedule a call to address it.
I understand the fear. SEO can be a black box. Express your concerns to your agency and let them step up and provide a better explanation of the timeframes and the actions they are taking to move the campaign forward.
Ask them why they feel your campaign is declining. You are in a YMYL niche. How are they building the authority you need to play in this niche? Also, the site received an algorithmic penalty in December. Id' want them to speak to that.
One of the big concerns with the campaign is why the /tagged/ pages are still showing up in Google. That can really hurt an ecom site.
Good luck on the campaign. Hopefully this helps you have a productive conversation with them.
As a followup., I can't do Ecom for under $1200 a month, and for your niche, it would be double that, minimum. Too competitive.
Noah Lopata 🎓 » Quinton
From the thread, there is a lot to take in here.
Just because there is no uptick in analytics, does not necessarily mean they are doing a bad job. If your pages were nowhere to be seen within the first 100 results and they've managed to get this to say page 2/3, you will still see no users come from that search but there has been major progress.
However looking in Google Search Console under impressions will help you discover if there has been some increase over the past month(s).
Now, with that being said that is under the assumption that rankings have increased which may also not be true.
I would ask what they've done for the budget you've handed over and what's the roadmap. Some companies are skeptical to give this information over though but it may shed some light.
Really they should be keeping you up to date with which keywords they're tracking and the progression of these rankings monthly.
With SEO you are playing the long game and it can take at least several months to start seeing major impacts for the website. It's also difficult to comment considering we don't know what keywords are being targeted and the competition level.
Ultimately people can comment as much as they want but you'd need someone to look into it much further before commenting on facts.
Note for next time (if you ever do it again) if the contract has a get out clause or minimum time frame, they are going to cheat you 🤷♂️
Come on that's not true lol this is exactly the reason WHY agencies do contracts. Clients expect instant results. The decline in performance isn't even the agencies fault. It started in November/December with a big site update
Petter » Mawji
1 month notice is normal since you are tying up their assets and some time to replace your income is to be expected, but a buy-out for a 12 month contract isn't normal.
Mawji » Petter
We used to do that and quickly realized no one is ever gonna pay that anyway so why even bother.
I'm not hiring an attorney to sue you for 7500 😂
Petter » Mawji
If you feel the need to mess with clients like that you're screwing over the next consultant too.
Mawji » Petter
It's not messing with clients. It's an attempt to weed out the type of clients that like to jump ship after 3 months because their unrealistic expectations aren't met.
Stop assuming so much 😂
Petter » Mawji
This weeding should be done through managing expectations – not through holding them hostage.
I'm not assuming anything about your skill or knowledge in SEO, I'm responding to a tactic you openly admit.
Mawji » Petter
Jesus dude it's not holding anyone hostage if you're doing a good job. Majority of contracts have cancellation clauses that also have some type of termination fee.
Anyway I'm stepping away from this conversation now since it's not even relevant anymore.
What results are / were you expecting? Are leads or sakes coming in? Reduced metrics might mean reduced clutter and unqualified traffic. Keyword rankings don't mean a lot. What kind of reports are you getting? 3 months is tip of the iceberg and $2k is a VERY small budget depending on your SOW. Is it just on-page SEO? What about technical SEO, local, off-page, content marketing? What's driving traffic to your site?
My concern is that after I hired them then I mention I had sustained but now it's gone down and it's hard to be a business owner and justify the expense when there are other ads to place or email campaigns or heck even a printed ad??
If you are making all changes they request quickly then they are bad. If you don't know what they have done run. At this point they should have improved your site speed and added content.
They are telling me they are focusing on structure of each page and optimizing each page. They are also using a free module or add an application that does this at the liquid level. And these were things that I had been doing already and learned how to do from tools like And these were things that I had been doing already and learned how to do from tools like www.diib.com
diib® | #1 Website Growth Platform | 150,000K+ Users Worldwide
diib® | #1 Website Growth Platform | 150,000K+ Users Worldwide
diib® | #1 Website Growth Platform | 150,000K+ Users Worldwide
Mawji » Wick
Ah… this sounds like a cop out answer. You're on Shopify and this app is an automated SEO app similar to Yoast on WordPress.
They haven't created any new content in 3 months? All they're doing is "on page SEO"?
lol! That's like suing the radio station because the ad you bought didn't give you more calls. You're paying for marketing assistance and there isn't any legal recourse here unless there was a promize made. In that case it'd be breach of contract and the terms would be outlined in the contract for what happens then.
Yes I completely understand and I almost wouldn't mind going to court and showing the data and I wonder if a judge would say that it's reasonable to expect someone to continue to pay money when there have been zero improvements and thus far I'm actually going the opposite direction??
I would imagine it'll be easy to get out of a contract if you just ask. Suing for damage will be very, very difficult and you'll likely spend FAR more.
Source: Have done SEO for 10+ years and wife is an attorney
Not a lawyer, but my first question would be what does the contract actually say they will do? Very unlikely they would guarantee rankings or traffic.
3 months is not enough actually. And without the URL, can't even say what they missed doing right. Whether it's they didn't do the right thing or did it right but just waiting to see the result, can't say without looking at the site
SEO company can't make people come to the site if consumer demand is down. And it probably is. You need to bear that in mind.
Not to be a jerk, but if you want legal advice on getting out of a contract, you really should be talking to a lawyer and not us idiots in an SEO Facebook Group.
I think he might have realized that now.
Meanwhile somewhere else on FB someone's asking for SEO advice in a lawyer's group.
Mawji » Pawsey
Probably the agency in question 😂
NOBODY can guarantee rankings. As I understand it, and you should consult with an attorney, a contract is not only invalid if the outcome depends on a third party who is not a party to the contract, but in many places that kind of contract is illegal. In this case, the third party is Google.
For example, you can't sign a contract with a client to guarantee them that Joe Blow will fall in love with the client within sixty days.
You may also have some standing if their practices violate Google's Guidelines for best practices. In which case you COULD have standing to claim malpractice on their part, but you'll have to consult with an attorney or slug it out in small claims court (if the dollar amount qualifies).
I know that in the Local Search space there are many parasites who call themselves SEO users whose only activity is to generate an end of month report documenting all the keywords the client ranked for in the previous month. That's all. Zero work.
This is a scam that has been going on for awhile now. I first noticed it around 2003 when a client, the CEO of a B2B, referred his uncle to me who it turned out was being scammed by someone in Scottsdale, AZ. I helped turn his local based business around for him and he sold it to a dotcommer a few years later.
$2,000 for three months of work is not much money so I suspect that they probably haven't been doing much.
Please don't take this the wrong way, but been at both sides of the SEO agency world for quite a while (client, daily, SEO provider, daily) and here's my 2 cents.
1. Deliverables – What have they done on the site over the last 3 months?
2. Does it match the roadmap they gave you, or come close to?
3. Keyword movements. Where did you start at (total keywords, and position of your main targets) and where are you? This is a fundamental KPI.
A) 12 month contracts typically mean what Steve above me just said. "We'll do a f*ckload at the beginning and have 0 profit, the site will eventually pick up, and we will do a little less and make profit over the 2nd half of the contract"
😎 We don't know how fundamentally f*cked up your SEO was to start with.
C) $2k for 3 months is the tiniest budget ever. EDIT: seen you're in Health & Hemp. Then even $2k/mo is insufficient for a decent agency to even fire up Ahrefs.
Ultimately I see:
That the agency didn't set proper expectations in terms of results, timeline, roadmap, deliverables.
That your base expectations are also entirely off. Both from an SEO and a legal POV.
Keith L Evans 🎓
Advice for Everyone: choose SEO users who don't use contracts. Lots of us do it.
You will pay experts who deliver results. No agreements necessary.
Always use a contract. You're a business as an SEO, why wouldn't you use a contract?
Keith L Evans 🎓
33 customers, no cancellations in 2020, and my clients can leave anytime they want. I created a new category class of SEO agency.
Mawji » Keith L Evans
I do the same but I still have a contract to protect us lol. We allow clients to cancel with 30 days notice but still make them sign for 12 months as it signals intent.
John » Reece
I never do contracts. Everything is month to month. If you are getting results, building trust and managing expectations no contracts are needed. If anything they erode trust with the client. I've had clients stay with me for more than three years now.
Altman » Reece
Only peeps that don't know what they are truly doing need a long term contract. 12 mo is just dumb.
Joe Youngblood 🎓 » Keith L Evans
Sorry Keith, I refuse to work without a contract. Yeah you can try to screw me, but if it is worth enough to me I'll get it back in a settelement or judgement that way.
Dixson » Keith L Evans
You and I agree on many things in business but on the use (or non-use) of an agreement we are vehemently opposite.
Everyone absolutely, without a doubt needs to use agreements. Not just any agreement, a well drafted agreement.
Case in point, I got tangled up with a lawsuit where a competitor is essentially bullying my client away from competing with them. The case is ridiculous and baseless but without an agreement I have a lot of additional risk. Specifically, having a clause of indemnification and requirement for the client to defend me, I would be on the hook for all the legal fees.
That is just one example of MANY for why everyone needs a Terms of Agreement in place with their clients.
Long term contracts vs month to month contracts I understand. But to say no contract at all seems like poor business
Look beyond traffic. I've tanked somebody's traffic but increased their revenue on many an occasion. It's a strategic move to nix useless traffic and bring in traffic that'll convert.
Totally agree with this!
Andrew 🎓 » Wick
I want to make sure you ask the right questions before you seek to terminate.
1. Local SEO is primarily about the GMB and you shouldn't look too closely to Google Analytics as the barometer of success.
2. Did any of your URLs need to change during the 3-month campaign? Rankings will drop initially when the URL structure changes.
3. Has the company given you a view into the project management dashboard so you know what they are working on?
4. Do you have a rank tracker currently active and does it tell the same story as the above screenshot?
5. SEO gains typically take around 4 months and major wins usually take around 6-8 months (depending on the budget).
I don't know the company but I want to make sure you aren't jumping the gun. If you'd like me to review the website and evaluate their work, I'm happy to do so. I've done most of my work for the month so I have a bit of free time I was about to spend on learning a new course. If you get back to me before April 1 I'll have time. Anytime after that and I can't do it.
Project Management example.
Edward » Andrew
Which tool is that?
Andrew 🎓 » Edward
Keyword.com and ClickUp
Keyword.com (Prev. SerpBook) – Win more rankings and projects
Wick » Andrew
Thank you very much for your information. I didn't mention I also have a brick and mortar and I have been using GMB myself for four years and I can post pictures and get 400 to 1000 search views in one day. I see what my keyword search queries are and I try to optimize my page is based on those things. Like I said I have paid up to $300 for compulsatory SEO work from smaller firms and I thought I was going to pay more money and get more of a focus team but I just don't know if they are the right firm??
Andrew 🎓 » Wick
All that matters is clicks and calls.
$1200 is currently the smallest budget I work with because clients don't really see much progress with too small of a budget until 12 months later. Depending on your niche, your problem could also be budget?
As Andrew said, there needs to be more context and detail to this. Just because you are seeing declining analytics numbers it doesn't mean they are doing a bad job. They could just be removing low intent/high traffic keywords that aren't applicable for your business. Visitor numbers is one metric, but more importantly, are they getting you more relevant clicks and more customer inquiries.
To be fair, 2k over 3 months for health and hemp niche is super tiny.
On the other hand we are working on the SEO for a client in that same industry and have seen better results. We are investing a lot on content and Backlinks though.
Yes, BACKLINKS. I have had ZERO discussions with them about BACKLINKS. It's like it's not in their planning?
Bea RG » Wick
That's bad. Super super hard to rank in the hemp e-commerce niche without Backlinks from relevant sites 🥺.
I'm not such a pro like the guys above my comment but if you want an outsider's opinion feel free to DM.
Mawji » Wick
Honestly at that budget, backlinks probably wouldn't even fit into the scope of work. Hopefully they're creating content for you. I'm still running the crawl and I'm already at 300+ pages. Checking Google shows 660 indexed pages. At a budget of $865 it really is the minimum that could be done and 3 months really isn't enough time for them.
I definitely don't agree with threatening negative PR to get out of your contract. That's extremely unfair and not the way you should go about handling this situation.
As mentioned earlier, you guys made big changes in December that are the cause for your decline so holding them responsible doesn't seem to be the play here.
Have you discussed this with them and asked for ideas on how they plan to increase your performance?
How have sales been? How about leads?
Have they improved certain keyword ranks in 3 months?
Our clients have a minimum 1k spend but in a niche such as yours I would have recommended $1500/month minimum if you also wanted to do link building.
I'm sure they have thought of all these things and also realized there just isn't space in the budget to achieve everything simultaneously.
Haven't used a contract in 14 years , if I don't deliver within a discussed time period , I'm ok with them leaving and confident I can replace them, Altho it's never really happened 🤔 I also hand pick my clients over a decent sized education session on SEO and my methods including setting expectations… this is where I intentionally drop comments that are a test to hear their response. If they respond with odd?'s & comments about wanting to rank unrealistically, or for a dream budget… then I have in the past taken a pass. Life's too short to not work with great people and companies.
Wilde » Jeff
Let me say, I'm the beginning I use to say yes to all leads and that's how I learned and shifted to the above philosophy.
I never make my clients sign long term contracts. That means that I have to earn their trust each and every month by getting results and justifying my expense to them. You should ask for a report of what they have done. Although $2k may be small beans to some, it is a lot of money to others and you deserve an explanation.
What the name of the agency?
My City Social
Jeff » Wick
Good to know they gave us quotes as well but didn't like that there were contracts
Jeff » Wick
I will say this, if they went in and changed everything ( optimized your listing) it will take a drop, sometimes a large drop.
Fabio » Wick
Well, the thick plottens… I did a search on Google and one of the first results that came up is
It seems like you shouldn't hold your breath waiting for results. I don't think it's worth a legal action, just tell them you want to cancel teh contract because they didn't deliver on their side
MyCity Social | Better Business Bureau® Profile
Wick » Fabio
Thanks for sharing!!
Edward » Fabio
They have an a+ rating
Hey Adam, I see this very often. See, the really hard thing is vetting an SEO company because the bar to become an SEO is as low as calling yourself an SEO. Nobody checks. They use fancy terms, and throw some metrics at you in order to get you as far. I am more than willing to check what is wrong, and what they did. (Audit their work) but for 865 a month, I don't believe they should have signed you. I did the same thing in my early days when I began… and what agencies often forget is that you actually need some budget in order to book some results. Of course, many factors are at play here and I'm not saying you're doing anything wrong but we can't say much without having an idea of what's going on here.
Colman » Wick
I am going to be straight with you. 2k is bare bones and opting out of a contract 2 months in is redic. If you wanted instant results you should have went with ppc or social paid (even those take months of optimization)
Now I'm not saying it's not their fault. But you need to look at the facts.
1) if you only started 2 months ago, the results above are indicators of SEO or growth BEFORE the agency took over
2) it's not all about traffic, but conversion. For instance if you are getting a large amount of traffic for a pricing page, but you are local, 95% of that traffic is pointless
3) communicate with them, ask them why and ask for keyword growth metrics to get an idea.
4) unfortunately lengthy contracts are in place for this reason, you should be building a relationship with an agency where it's a two way street. Agencies put these stipulations in place as prospects expect the world over night. Life and business doesn't work that way.
The only thing you can do is communicate with them, and if they aren't giving you the answers or results they promized, ask them for a better option for cancelling.
I'm an agency owner and I spend more on employees to do our SEO. If 1k a month doesn't fit into your 10-20% marketing budget, you most likely weren't ready to do SEO as your biz wasn't to that phase yet
PPC or social ads are not allowed for CBD 😱
Fabio » Colman
I agree with you in part. Not seeing results after 3 months could happen, and it would be advisable to wait. However, losing rankings consistently is a very strong sign that the SEO company he hired is doing things wrong
It's tough legally. No SEO can guarantee results (or shouldn't) because there are some factors we can't control. Namely what the competition is doing and what Google do.
$2000 isn't a lot unless it's just local you're looking at. Essentially, you're talking $1000 of work and $1000 profit margin. If the average hourly rate is $25 per hour for just a low-level SEO, we're talking 40 hours, but some of those will be analysis, preparing reports. Some of that will go to content creation and a large chunk will go getting links.
I work as an SEO consultant, but I don't work with clients, I only work with agencies as a strategist and consultant. So if you want, you can PM me, I'll review what they've done and let you know if I feel they're doing the right activities.
I don't think you could take legal action but you might be able to threaten it, if they haven't done a lot they might buckle and allow you to break your contract for free.
I'll give you unbiased advice, I'm not going to pitch you any services, but likewise, I'll be fair to the SEO users you hired too. Just let me know Adam » Joe Youngblood 🎓
Your first problem is you hired a Florida based "Agency" that charged less than $2,000 in 3 months.
That's our minimum monthly rate.
Your other problem is expecting positive results in 3 months. There are few things an SEO can do to generate results that fast but there's a lot your former agency or you could have done to cause a drop.
Without knowing what work they have done and what their plan moving foward is there isn't much advice to give here except that you should wait at least 6 months before making a judgement call.
If they are not doing work that's a totally different story though…
If you share your website with me I'll tell you what their doing wrong. Always happy to give free advice. $2,000 for 3 months of SEO is crazy low. Anyone telling you any difference most likely can't deliver results. My minimum in $3,500 per month. But I have Tons of Google analytics accounts that show anywhere from $40k – $130k per mon in organic income.
I'm a former lawyer and my advice is to consult a lawyer, not Facebook. This is a contractual issue.
Noah Lopata 🎓
The budget you describe is a drop in the bucket in your niche.
Unfortunately anyone who took on the job for that price might not know any better.
That's one of the most highly competitive and dirty trick filled markets at the moment. That's not even talking about having to deal with the over optimization issues because the same word is repeated hundreds if not thousands of times per page.
I'd hire a firm with some experience in the niche that you are able to verify and expect to have a large budget to be competitive.
3 months is too short if you are working on organic my friend… the first evaluation should be after and every 6 months.
Google is slow at updating organic results nowadays.
However if you are spending money on GMB , you should start seeing results after a month.
more traffic and increase rankings you can only get with more content.. (it is the content that ranks in Google) ask them what content they are (have been) adding (daily/weekly/monthly) then check for correlation. You can point a finger at content, if what they promized isn't there (or doesn't look the way it should) then there is a performance problem; if mentioned in the contract (eg. publish 10 new pages per week) then performance can be tracked and measured. However hardly anybody will note down the SEO performance. Most SEO contracts are subscription- based contracts, if you don't like what they do for you then tough luck (similar to joining a book-club, you subscribe, they send you books you don't want to read, you complain and stop reading their books, despite you keep paying until your contract ends). Mike is absolutely right as well (have wait for results) but if there is no content (at all) then you can wait a very long time for nothing. You can do an SEO check the content that was created for you, but don't put all your faith in Google statistics. Cheers.
Way too soon to judge, especially if they are having to clean ur your backlink profile or undo any previous black hat. It takes months and months to see major shifts. As some one else said, every 6 months is appropriate to review.. altho I see no harm in a 3 month review to see exactly what they have done, their findings, observations and an action plan with milestones for a 6 months review.
Step should be to talk to the SEO you hired and tell them your issue and see what their response is. I think it's fair to give them a chance to fix it. I'm assuming sales are down to accordingly… as i've been in a situation with a client where users were down, but $ sales,number of sales, return sales, items per sale and average spend were all up significantly… client complained to me about the down traffic, completely forgetting the traffic he had been getting (95%) was garbage, from the wrong location (china,russia,india,philipines) all bouncing, where i'd blocked it all and built traffic from the target market in the USA.
Note: If this regards your CBD business, my personal opinion is $2k of 3 months is a bit lite for big upward movement, however i wouldn't expect worse given Retail numbers on cbd/cannabis sales so I share your concerns
Such hypocrisy citing the lack of money, hibestly everyone above saying 2k is not enough is getting on my blacklist of hacks. 3 months and all results are negative? That's horrendous. Anyway, did you define deliverables in the contract?
Yes, my top 2 requests at the beginning – Traffic increase and higher ranking
Mawji » Vladimir
Their results are negative because the client completely changed the website. It has nothing to do with the agency.
Vladimir » Mawji
I didn't see anything above about the client changing the website. But sure, if the client did dumb stuff, the rules change.
Mawji » Vladimir
There's a screenshot somewhere showing a huge dip from search console the month before they hired the agency.
The more I've dug into this the more it seems the client was expecting the agency to regain their traffic at a marginal cost and now wants to cancel because his expectations weren't met.
The agency is also at fault for not setting realistic expectations though unless they have and the client is choosing to still hold them accountable for the losses caused by the web update in december
Trevor » Vladimir
Yeah.. if you're doing projects for yourself, but if you're not charging that much for a client you're not basic math on your time, because it's not about what you can do in the most efficient of projects ever, it's always about the collective of time, especially considering the in-between time to coach client, maintain, cust service etc.