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Scary Trends in the SEO World

Scary Trends in the SEO World

The world of search engine optimization (SEO) is huge and full of possibilities. As such, the companies most successful at it employ strategists, technical wizards, content writing creatives, and an army of other talented professionals, all key to keeping the SEO train on the tracks and headed in the right direction. The problem is most companies don’t have the payroll to pay for these all these positions. Enter the digital agency.

Since you may not have the need to employ a full team of individuals, each with their own area of expertise, you can essentially rent time from a team of pros at an agency at a rate that makes financial sense to you. Sounds perfect, right? Well, not always. As much as it sends chills up our spine, there are a lot of agencies out there that employ less than honest tactics. It can be difficult to know who to trust.

We sometimes to refer to these types of agencies as the Ghosts of the SEO world – it’s scary that they are out there ­– but we see right through them. So, in honor of Halloween, here are three types of SEO Ghosts that you will want to avoid at all costs.

The Poltergeist

This is the type of agency that has the power to do good, but they maintain their business model by holding their clients hostage and will bring down the house if anyone tries to escape. We have all seen a Poltergeist in action. They promise things like:

  • Qualified leads from key directories
  • Fresh, quality content written by experts in your industry
  • Easy-to-use website CMS, so you hold the keys to your site

What they don’t tell you is this:

  • Those directories? Yeah, they will not provide standard tracking protocol, so you can see that you are getting calls or clicks, but there is no way to tell if they are qualified. Or better yet, the directories are owned by the agency and your listing will expire the second you try to leave.
  • The quality content? You guessed it. Taking a close look and the fine print will tell you that the agency legally owns the content you paid them to write, and if you even try to leave the agency, you’ll be leaving without any of those pages or posts that cost you so much time and money.
  • And that website. . . Sure, it’s easy for you to use the three tiny content areas you’ve actually been granted permission to access. “That’s OK,” you think. “I’ll just move my website somewhere else.” Nope, the Poltergeist used a proprietary CMS and will not be providing assets, database exports, zip files, or anything else that could possibly facilitate a site migration. You’re going to have to start from the beginning.

Beware the poltergeist and work with a transparent marketing agency.

The Headless Horseman

This is how I refer to the niche digital agencies out there that blindly service just one vertical. Not all industry-specific agencies fall into this category, but a lot of them unfortunately do. Because their business model has them servicing just one industry, they end up executing a cookie cutter strategy across all clients, many of whom are direct competitors of one another.

Besides causing a slew of conflicts of interest, the cookie cutter approach allows the agencies to hire inexperienced staff who don’t really have to use their heads to get the job done. Not only that, you’ll frequently get copy that either exactly or nearly matches the copy on your competitor’s site. These guys are typically cheaper than your average digital agency, but that’s because you’re not paying for one key element to any digital strategy: A Head.

At Forthea, we’re proud of our diverse portfolio of clients and work.

The Ghost of SEO Past

Ok, this one has a bit of a Christmas spin on it, but a ghost is a ghost, right? This is the digital agency relationship that you want to leave in the past, but can’t because once you move on, it will come back to haunt you in the nastiest ways. I’ve unfortunately seen it first hand, and it typically goes a little bit like this: Company signs contract with Ghost agency; Company is not impressed with Ghost’s work and terminates working relationship; Ghost goes into jealous rage and trashes Company’s backlink profile, writes bad reviews, and otherwise tarnishes Company’s reputation online. You do not want to get mixed up with these guys.

Regardless of which type of Ghost it is, these are scary ways for any agency to behave, and it boils our blood that there are people out there haunting the reputations of digital marketers everywhere. See what Forthea is doing to create a better type of marketing agency.

Don’t be too spooked though, now that you know what to look out for, you can avoid these frightful marketers like the plague.

Nick Lindauer
Nick is the vice president, client services and operations at Forthea. He’s been working in internet marketing since 2002, when – ironically – he answered an ad in the newspaper. When he’s not at work, he’s off spending time with his family, working on his house, building furniture, cooking on his two Big Green Eggs & brewing hot sauce.


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