Question? Call Us 650-940-8115

Identifying Bad SEO or Digital Marketing Agencies

Is your SEO or marketing firm deceitful? Is all they want to do is take your money? Be on the lookout for these five red flags that indicate a terrible agency.

Seven years of my 15-year career were spent at a digital marketing firm.

It’s where I learned how to cut my teeth, put together a deck, effectively communicate with clients (the jury is still out on this one), and so on.

Were we flawless?

Of course not, but we were open and honest, and we approached each contact with the heart and the best interests of our customers in mind.

I began my SEO career as a private consultant dealing with small firms, and I treated it in the same manner — with honesty and excitement.

Even when things weren’t going well, I remained honest with my clients and told them everything they needed to know. Building and maintaining those partnerships required complete transparency.

However, there are some less-than-honest people out there who are only out to grab your money.

Based on my contacts with these firms and individuals over the last 15 years, I’ve outlined some techniques to spot them, avoid them, and guarantee you’re working with reputable SEO experts.

They demand ownership of your data/logins.

One of the telltale signals that an agency or consultant is attempting to trap you is when they ask for complete authority over your logins, data, and reporting right at the outset of the engagement.

Many firms fall for this under the premise of “I simply want them to handle it, that’s what I’m paying for, for them to handle everything,” but they are unaware of how harmful this can be if the two companies don’t get along.

Let’s imagine you’ve reached a point where you no longer want to work with your agency or consultant; it’s unfortunate, but it does happen.

In this circumstance, many dishonest agencies/consultants will take your data and logins hostage to keep the contract alive.

This can lead to months, if not years, of legal wrangling, and, in the worst-case situation, you’ll have to create new logins and add unique tracking codes to your websites.

Top Results/Rankings

It still astounds me that SEO professionals are gaining clients with the pitch “We guarantee #1 rankings,” yet they’re out there, and people are hiring them.

Take a look at this ad that appeared when I searched for “SEO businesses” on Google:

  • They call to discuss your website. For example, deceptive ads like the one above, free audits, or long emails about something happening with Google that they constantly present as something you should be concerned about since we detected a dip in your site using their unique yadda
  • You get scared and give them a try since you need to repair any problems they’ve described to you because you probably don’t know everything there is to know about organic search and want someone to handle it for you.
  • Within a few weeks, a few keywords jumped to Page 1, proving their claim to ensure Page 1 results. You’re overjoyed. You can’t believe you’ve never worked with these people before, and you can’t wait for the orders to come in. Work begins.
  • After a few months, the Page 1 rankings are still coming in, but no new business is coming in. There are no new leads. It’s all about orders.
  • They mention that SEO is a long process and that you should expect new Page 1 results every week if you’re patient, but they never go into detail to explain everything that’s going on. Everything is fine with them, and everything is going well, but you aren’t getting any results.
  • After 6+ months, you begin to check into the keywords you are “winning” and discover they have very little monthly search volume and are not particularly relevant to your business. You realize you’ve been tricked and contacted out, only to receive canned responses and begin the process of terminating your engagement.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Get updates