For every ethical person who works in SEO it seems that there are around 10 companies that do not have their client’s best interests in mind. The truth is that there are very few people who grasp SEO like they say they do on their website. SEO has been given a bad name on account of these unethical SEO agencies or companies. It has impacted the SEO industry immensely as it seems that every other client has been burned in the past by a shady SEO company.
Have you noticed how plenty of online businesses decorate their websites with all kinds of beautiful badges telling visitors that their satisfaction and the results of their work (in this case, it’s a service) are 100% guaranteed? The text that comes with this promise is usually useless though, as most of the time it’s a collection of vague phrases such as “we always cater to every need of each and every one of our customers” or “we guarantee that you’ll be satisfied with our work”. Where’s the guarantee in that though? It’s great to know that you’ll do your best when working with me, but I don’t see any real assurance here.
This trend is particularly popular with search engine marketing or search engine optimization agencies. A huge amount of them have plenty of beautiful words on their websites, but a rare one has a real policy that guarantees that you’ll get your money back in case the planned results aren’t reached. And it’s really easy to promise quantitative results here, as everything from the number of visitors to the conversion rate can be easily measured with analytics tools, including probably the most important thing: the improvement of rankings on search engine result pages. Assurances from serious companies that have real guarantee policies are great, but it’s a really rare sign in the current SEM services market.
The following are some of the dangers of hiring an unethical SEO company:
After doing a quick search on any major search engine, you’ll notice that the serious agencies that have been in the business for years don’t throw around any ranking guarantees. They have experience, expertise, and knowledge to make it work and have proven it with hundreds of clients before. Now if you stumble upon the website of a younger, newer agency, there’s a high chance you’ll find one or two (or three, or five for that matter) decorative badges or text that advertise the “100% guaranteed increased rankings”. Once you click around though, you’ll see that there’s nothing that would support the claim, meaning the agency is either lying or simply unprofessional – and you wouldn’t want to do business with someone like that.
Another thing that you might notice among the guarantees is that such agencies usually have no previous work, presenting you exactly zero cases of what they’ve done for their previous clients. On the contrary, any serious agency will have an extensive portfolio, enabling you to find a case similar to yours and know exactly what you can expect. It’s certainly an area to keep an eye on, as if the company is throwing around guarantees, has no cases of previous work, and is incredibly cheap, they might not be professional at all – they might be there only to embezzle money from unsuspecting visitors.
Up Today Gone Tomorrow
There are plenty of guest posts that get taken down daily as well as links that have been put on sites. Some of these are taken down because the original author might not have received payment from the client or person working for the client that is mentioned in the post. While it is unethical to pay for posts and not disclose this, it is a common tactic used by SEO companies who could care less whether their client is penalize in the long term because they will be long gone.
There are bloggers who work with these SEO companies that post numerous articles on a daily basis. They are asked to remove links or take down posts as a client’s contract is about to expire so they need their rankings to drop so they will sign another contract. There are certain companies that just look at final reports and with updates constantly being made to search engines and ranking dropping on site the SEO company can just attribute it to one of those Google algorithm changes.
(This is actually me but I still work with the person mentioned and he pays well so I’m remaining anonymous.)A well-known blogger who asked to remain nameless recounts the tactics of one agency that he worked with building links asked him to do just that. He recalls the situation “I had done work for a smaller agency who were doing very specific posts. Some didn’t have links while others did but they focused around one central point. The person who I worked with paid like crazy so I wrote up and posted everything he asked and sent me. Around 6 months later the same guy contacted me and actually offered payment to take these links down. I ask if they had been penalized and he wrote a short response about how he wanted to sign the client to another contract so he needed some of the posts to be taken down. I politely declined as I wasn’t an editor on all of these so I didn’t have access to edit posts after publication.”
How To Combat This: Require the SEO company to provide thorough reports in the style that isn’t confusing for anyone. Have them chart their links and send them weekly so progress can be seen. If doing guest posting, require them to use fresh personas as a tainted persona could end up doing more harm than good when the persona has built links for bad neighborhood sites like pharmacy and gambling links. Have those companies link their outreach team to a cloud email system so what is being said can be seen by all and avoiding penalties by reducing paid links or sketchy tactics.
Deindexed By Google
There is nothing worse than having a site deindexed by Google as the leads from this search engine will be completely gone. Not having a web presence can stunt the growth of many small businesses leading them to fail. There are ways to have a site indexed on Google again so not all is lost. It might take work but it is possible to do this in a relatively small amount of time.
How To Combat This: Google will send out emails letting a website know if there are harmful links linking back to their website. Disavowing these links is the best way to not be penalized or receive the death penalty of SEO, the deindexing of a site from Google. There are disavow tools that can be downloaded or there are firms that specialize in penalty recovery.
Many businesses are not aware that SEO attacks could be done to hurt their search engine score. There are those companies who threaten to practice SEO attacks on a business if they do not pay up or sign an extension of the current contract. A certain SEO was actually sent to prison using this tactic with a huge corporation he was threatening, that juggernaut being General Electric. The SEO extorted close to $200,000 from the company. With national brands being susceptible to this type of threat, what could happen to a much smaller brand or business and how long would they have to pay until justice was reached? If all of this negative SEO is unmonitored it could have a website deindexed by Google in a matter of months.
How To Combat This: If you have made the wrong as a business and have someone threatening a site unless they are paid it is important to contact the proper authorities. While negative SEO is not illegal, it is illegal to threaten action and extort money in this fashion.
Deliver At First To Gain Your Trust
Hiring an SEO company or just a link broker can be dangerous as they might deliver in the beginning before they set a company up for a big order, then as soon as they receive payment they are impossible to get into contact with. There are places where certain SEOs look for contractors like on Wicked Fire and Warrior Forum that sometimes contain scammers. If messaged by one of these people, make sure that they have a high post count as the same scammers sign up for new accounts pretty frequently. There is even a section on one of the sites dedicated to calling these scammers out and having them banned from the forum.
How To Combat This: If hiring an individual it is important that a company uses a platform that protects the buyer and seller of the service like Upwork. If a bulk service is ordered, pay for each specific item as they are completed as a common tactic is asking for half up front then never being heard from again.
The worst thing that can happen is losing a customer because of a contractor. Sending out marketing and website work to a SEO company can sometimes be a crapshoot. There are some clients who are flexible with deadlines while others will stop working with a company from a single missed deadline. Design work is something that can get away from people especially if there are numerous revisions requested. Having a set plan when going to a contractor is important especially with deadlines involved so nothing is left up to chance is important as a missed deadline can be seen from further away.
How To Combat This: If contracting out any work then make sure it is a lenient client when it comes to deadlines. Many SEO firms contracting out work understand that sometimes links cannot be built on time. Building in an extra couple weeks into the deadline given to the client can help avoid any disasters as well. When working with contractors on a strict deadline it is important to have milestones hit by certain dates. This will help keep a contractor on pace and give the client notice if it going to be late weeks in advance.
There is plenty of client stealing that happens on a daily basis in the SEO industry. This section is more for those who contract out a bit of their work to another SEO company. Protecting a business from client stealing is important as one large client stolen can mean a huge difference in what type of year a company has. Besides the obvious poor ethics of client stealing after working with someone it will catch up to the company and being associated with them can reflect poorly on a company.
How to Combat This: Make sure to have nothing that identifies the client except for the linking URL if the company that is hired is supposed to link build via blog posts. While this doesn’t guarantee that the company will not contact the client, many of these companies are aware that clients could be contracted out to the business contracting it out again. Having these companies sign documents stating that they will not take clients does not always work as the same company could come out under a different name.
Doing research on the SEO company that a business is considering is essential to avoid mistakes. Obviously the SEO firm will have the ability to push down bad reviews and articles using their SEO tactics but asking people in the SEO community via forums will reveal a truthful answer. Be careful of overseas SEO companies that offer website design but have a site that looks like it was developed in the 1990’s. While this seems obvious for some, there are plenty of businesses that fall for these faux SEO companies. Businesses must do their due diligence before hiring one of these companies as a marketing budget can be swallowed by a fake or under-qualified company. Avoid these dangers by hiring the right SEO company today!
To conclude, you have to be extremely cautious, as the number of online search engine optimization agencies increase significantly every year. Most of them are new to the business, have zero to little real experience, and think that some theoretical knowledge makes them SEO experts. It’s always not the case though, so make sure that the SEO agency you end up working with doesn’t throw around guarantees without real policies that support them.