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.