Whether you own a startup or you already have an established business, SEO is crucial to your online success. Nevertheless, organic traffic acquisition is challenging. Without the right resources and knowledge, you can do more harm than good.

When you want to do SEO for your online business, you have two solutions. Either you learn SEO and do it yourself, or you outsource the work to a freelancer or SEO company. SEO is not rocket science but many entrepreneurs find it too time consuming. If that’s your case, then outsourcing SEO is the right solution but you need to know if your SEO company is helping or ruining your online business.

Analyze your SEO company performance.

Until your SEO company proves that it’s trustworthy, be skeptical and don’t rely just on their reporting. There have been numerous cases when websites have been penalized by Google for building backlinks that are against Google’s guidelines. You want to avoid that situation.

Assuming you have already installed Google Analytics on your site, here are some tips for effortlessly monitoring your SEO campaigns. You can choose to get email or mobile alerts when your traffic drops or increases considerably. Here’s how to do this:

1. Go to Google Analytics and from the top menu click on ‘Admin’.

2. From the ‘View’ column, choose to "create a new view."

3. Give a name to your new reporting view (for example "organic") and choose a Time Zone, and then click "Create View."

4. Select the newly created "view,'' click on "Channel Settings" and select "Channel Grouping."

5. The default channel grouping will include all traffic channels, but this is not what you need. Click on the "Actions" drop down menu and then click on "edit.''

6. Keep only the "organic search" channel. Remove all the rest of the channels and then click "save.''

7. Now with the organic view created, head to the reporting tab of Google Analytics, and from the left sidebar, click on "Intelligence Events'' and then on "Overview.''

8. On the next page, click on "Custom alerts"" and then on "Manage custom alerts.''

9. Select the organic traffic view you just created and click on "New alert.''

10. Choose a name for your alert and select to get these daily email alerts when your organic traffic goes below a certain value. If you live in the Unites States, you can also setup your mobile phone to receive alerts via text messages.

Besides Google Analytics, you should also use Google Webmaster Tools. The tool sends you warning emails if something goes wrong with your website. If your website has crawling problems or security issues, you’ll know first from Google Webmaster Tools.

Configure the Monitor Backlinks tool.

Besides analyzing how your traffic is evolving, you should also keep an eye on the backlinks built by your SEO company. Backlinks are the most important ranking factor and they make the difference between a successful SEO campaign and disaster.

If your SEO company is building low quality backlinks, your website might end up being penalized. Don’t put your entire faith in your SEO company hands. Sometimes, these companies provide partial reports.They refuse to show the low quality links they built because they know that you wouldn’t like to see that.

To keep track of your SEO campaigns, use SEO tools like Monitor Backlinks. First connect your account with Google Analytics and then everything else is automated. When your website will earn or lose backlinks, you will receive a list with these links in your email inbox. Aside from these alerts, you will also get a weekly report with your website’s keywords rankings and overall SEO performance. Here’s how to get started:

1. Register an account at MonitorBacklinks.com.

2. Follow the setup wizard and connect your website using your Google Analytics account.

3. Input the list of keywords you want to track your rankings for.

That’s basically it. When your SEO company will build backlinks for your website, you will know ahead of time. Using an SEO tool helps you avoid unwanted situations of having sloppy SEO work done for your website.

You might be asking, what is the difference a good backlink and a bad one? You can determine the quality of a backlink in a glance.

What is a quality backlink.

SEO is not an exact science, therefore some might have different opinions about what is a quality backlink. Nevertheless, all SEO experts agree on the following aspects:

  • A backlink is good when it’s coming from a relevant source. If you have an online baby store, getting links from parenting websites should be your goal. If you were to have links from betting websites, that would raise a flag to Google.
  • Good backlinks come from trusted sources. If your website has links from high quality websites, it will be considered trustworthy by search engines.
  • The above two features have something in common, which is: they are hard to get. The more complicated it is to earn a backlink, the higher the chances your competitors will have a hard time replicating your link.
  • A link is good when it sends traffic. A common mistake among beginners is that they think SEO is all about link building. That’s false. It’s also about spreading the word about your business on communities that would be interested to use your product or website.
  • In-content links are much more valuable than other backlinks.
  • Your link is not reciprocal.
  • The number of external links is low.

What is a low quality backlink.

Low quality backlinks are the ones that can destroy your search engines rankings. To put it simple, a low quality backlink doesn’t look natural and can easily be achieved by using spammy methods. To keep low-quality backlinks off your site you should avoid:

  • Backlinks from websites irrelevant to your niche.
  • Links from websites that have a bad reputation.
  • Blog network backlinks.

  • Side-bar or site-wide backlinks.

  • Links coming from websites with very thin and low quality content.

  • Backlinks from betting and pornography websites.

  • Links from websites with very little social media activity can raise suspicions.

  • Directory, blog comments and all such links that can easily be built.

You can't stop monitoring your website’s behaviour just because you outsourced SEO to a company or a freelancer. More than 80 percent of the SEO companies are using sloppy methods, which is why a lot of them went bankrupt after Google implemented major algorithm updates, such as Penguin and Panda.

Treat your SEO company as a partner, but don’t trust him fully until they prove they are trustworthy. Keep an eye on the backlinks they are building, not just the ones they want you to see in the reports they are sending.