Finding a good marketing company can be pretty challenging. Between checking their reputation and making sure they’re a solid fit for your business’s specific needs, there are a lot of factors to consider.
Most businesses manage this feat through direct referrals, which at least gives them assurance of the company’s credibility. However, for businesses who are starting fresh—no recommendations, no endorsements—there are a lot of options to navigate through.
And among the multitude of options come the bad apples; the ones that won’t necessarily spoil the lot but will definitely leave a sour taste in your mouth.
Sadly, there are still shady online marketing companies that thrive due to clients and customers who don’t realize what they are; capricious agencies that employ underhanded marketing tactics for the sake of a sale. They can be quite difficult to spot from afar, as they usually come off as completely normal and highly credible.
So how do you know when you’re dealing with a shady marketing company? It’s in the details:
If you’re fairly new to the world of SEO, there are two main strategies you need to familiarize yourself with: White Hat SEO strategy and its highly ambiguous counterpart, Black Hat SEO strategy. Already, the colors should give you a clue regarding the distinct difference between the two.
White Hat SEO uses ethical SEO techniques that are completely in line with Google’s guidelines and algorithm. It includes web-user friendly techniques such as guest blogging, site optimization, internal linking, and link baiting – producing quality content that others naturally want to link to.
Black Hat SEO, on the other hand, is pretty much the exact opposite. It uses aggressive SEO strategies that may or may not follow Google’s guidelines. It also focuses solely on search engine results page (SERP) ranking rather than providing content.
Some common Black Hat strategies include:
- keyword stuffing
- blog spamming
- parasite hosting
- link farming
- hidden text
- paid links
- doorway pages
If the marketing company you’re dealing with offers purely Black Hat SEO strategies, back away as quickly as you can.
Unbelievably Low Prices
The saying, “you get what you pay for,” can oftentimes be extremely apt, and it’s a good thing to keep in mind when shopping around for an online marketing agency. There’s “decently priced,” there’s “cost-effective,” and then there’s just plain cheap—and “just plain cheap” often involves more underhanded SEO strategies than you can fathom.
Good marketers will spend time working on your website; they’ll create (quality) content for it, optimize it, and enrich it with SEO while still staying within guidelines. That’s why they ask for a price equivalent to the effort they’re putting into your site. The higher the price, the more time they’ll spend on your account.
Promises of “Instant” Results
There’s another thing that sets Black Hat SEO strategies apart from White Hat ones; results. Even though they’re underhanded and highly questionable, Black Hat SEO strategies produce results faster than their counterpart. It’s understandable how that can happen, given that Black Hat focuses entirely on SERP ranking rather than content.
However, the complete lack of relevant content pretty much ensures that the results won’t last long. Strategies that involve tactics like keyword stuffing, link farming, and scraping provide excellent short-term conversions.
Beyond the first click, it’s highly unlikely that actual organic views (aka people, not machines) will return to a keyword-stuffed article.
>> Need Help Learning About SEO? The SEO Cheatsheet Shows the Best Practices for On-Page Search Engine Optimization!
These are the three main instances you can refer to when discerning a marketer’s reputability. However, there are certainly other instances that should let you know you’re working with a shady digital marketing company. As long as they’re promising outlandish (almost impossible) results for a very low fee, and their general strategies seem more Black Hat than anything, you should definitely reconsider working with them.