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Signs You Have A Bad SEO Consultant

Sometimes it’s tough to tell a client that what they’ve got is bad. This is the case with websites, employees, and in many cases, SEO Consultants. As a practice, I don’t like to pee on people’s parades but many times I get approached by potential clients who “smell” something off about their current SEO guys, and are seeking outside opinions.

One of the first signs I see that makes me livid is when SEO companies use a clients website to rank themselves. This is a practice that is used by web design companies as well, but perhaps is less egregious as they may not understand the implications (I hope). I’ll never come out and say ” THEY’RE USING YOU!!!”, I simply ask the clients a couple of questions like: “Is your internet marketing company giving you a discount for having this link on your website?”

The answer is inevitably “No” and this leads to more questions. When I break down the fundamentals of SEO for people, they get pretty upset they’re being used a cog in someone elses machine — someone they’re paying to promote their website.

Here is an example from a local Phoenix SEO company I found particularly upsetting. These guys have a number of employees, quite a few clients, and quite honestly: someone there should know better. This leaves the choice of ignorance or negligence, a quandary for sure. I won’t call them out by name because the last thing I need is more dirty looks at the Phoenix Marketing Events, but they’re a member of SEMPO and the BBB. These practices cheapen the implications of such memberships putting links on clients websites makes you look like an amateur.

Another particularly infuriating tactic used by bad SEO consultants is data fencing, or data kettling. After hiring said persons, they’ll setup a relatively complex Google Analytics or similar package on your website. Then, they’ll either charge you for weekly reports (Something Google does automatically for free) or they will charge you to “move” your data if you ever decide to leave them as a service. This tactic is frustrating because it would help an ethical SEO person to have a baseline of just how bad the last guys were messing things up. When you start looking at the implications of them giving up the data, you can start to figure out why they don’t want to give up the data: it’ll make them look bad. With my clients, they generally already have a Google Analytics account setup, which they don’t use, and I just add myself as an administrator. I’m not after their data or or their links: I’m after their repeat business and ecstatic referrals.

7 Responses to “Signs You Have A Bad SEO Consultant”

  1. Andrew says:

    *cough* Data Flurry *cough* Seems like there are less and less ethical SEO consultants out there every day…

  2. Daniel says:

    No its totally true there are some really shady SEO companies out there just like in any type of business. We are working for a company out of Utah that was getting their SEO and internet marketing done by a company that wouldn’t do anything they promised and charged a ton of money to get the website created and optimized. Then after the business owner decided to take his business somewhere else this shady Utah SEO company told him that he could buy his website from them for like $3,000. He was like dont I already own this? They told him no they set it up and did all the work for it so it was theirs. He was dumbfounded, enraged, and felt like he was taken advantage of. Well all I am trying to say is that you have to be careful in any business especially with SEO companies because you can’t always see everything they are doing… great post here by the way sorry I wrote so much haha!

  3. .Hack says:

    charging for analytics. lol

  4. Nick Eubanks says:

    I completely disagree with your opinion on “using clients,” by simply placing a link back to a firms site. Search engine optimization, in its purest form, is about leveraging inforamtion arbitrage opportunities that exist to create higher rankings for specific keywords.

    If you are going to say optimization firms are “using” their clients by promoting themselves you are in fact pissing on the very thing that is search optimization; leveraging knowledge and information to munipulate search rankings.

    If a client is thrilled with the work they are receiving, and has no qualms with placing a link to a providers website on their own, how is this using or what you are really implying… cheating?

    The firm you are bad-mouthing in your above post is simply taking advantage of an opportunity presented to them through a client relationship. As an optimization vendor why would you NOT take an opportunity to capture a keyword-rich one-way text link to you site? Are you magically going to be building links from blog posts which are almost always nofollow anyway? Are you planning on purchasing all of your links so Gogole can discount them at 70%? Where DO you get your links from if you cannot depend on the success of your client relationships to build them?

  5. Mike says:

    Nick if you were worth your salt you would not have to do anything Josh states above. A good SEO gets the job done without piggy backing on other sites for links pure and simple. I don’t know an SEO agency that doesn’t buy links. I don’t of course because of the risk involved but I am a master at my craft so it will never be needed. The the customer exactly what they want and be upfront and ethical as that is the only way to do business.

    Nick its about time you look for another profession…
    How about a new library card and read some new books while your at it.

  6. Adam says:

    Very insightful post. I have seen some of my competing companies using these tactics, and when people find out they are not happy.

  7. Great post! I didn’t know about all this and I’ll bet my small business clients don’t either. There are just too many details and moving parts when it comes to SEO for everyone to stay informed. I like your honesty, the way you think, and your writing style. We should talk.

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