Your Personal Searches Are Now For Sale

Nothing you do on the Internet will be private…it will be sold.

Imagine, if you will, a world where everything you do through your ISP [Internet Service Provider] is now up for sale and scrutiny. Nothing you watch, post, respond to, research, or buy will be private. Every key-stroke will be up for sale. Your entire digital life and browser history is heading to the auction block. If Congress, POTUS, and the ISPs have their way…this deal could be singed very soon.

In short, this new rule rolls back all of the privacy protections you once had. Previously, ISPs had to have your express permission to sell your private information. Under the new rule…all of your browsing information will be for sale and there will be NOTHING you can do about it.

Moreover, this suggests that if you own a website…now would be the perfect time to move from a unsecured site to a secured site. IE – HTTP to HTTPS. Typically, the move is very cost effective and will help your visitors be protected while they are on your site. In addition, Google regards HTTPS sites as more secure, thus, more trustworthy.

This is a short post and it is intentional. Your big takeaways are this:

  • Unless this is stopped or alternative regulations are proposed…we have entered into uncharted territory and all of us are the lab rats.
  • Big Data is about to get very personal and may begin to haunt all of us no matter where we go.
  • This are ways you can protect yourself. The article below is fantastic and I highly recommend you review it.
  • Searchology is now officially recommending to our readers and to all of our clients to switch from unsecure websites to secured websites. Simply move from HTTP to HTTPS.

We want to stay away from politicizing this event but we cannot ignore the fact that ISPs want YOUR information in order to monetize YOU. Our government in a very partizan vote count, decided that we should NOT be protected when using the Internet. This is a developing story and we will do our best to keep our readers updated as we lurch down a very deep and dark rabbit hole.


Searchology Celebrates 7 Years

Searchology Celebrates 7 Years of Digital A&M Service

We are truly delighted to have made it for seven years working in our chosen field of digital marketing and advertising. I have been in the search engine marketing field prior to 2001. I really got excited about it with my first job in the space cold calling companies from the phone book and offering them top place position on Google and Yahoo. Back in 2002, most of the work was very simple and very easy to drive high-quality website traffic without much of a fuss.

We are forever thankful for our long term clients, past clients, and future clients. Our company cannot claim success without the continued support, trust, and business from our clients, friends, and family. Our unconditional respect and love for all of those that have helped us get to where we are today. Of course, the digital space is not without its highs and lows. My how things have changed over the years.

What Have We Learned About Search Engine Marketing In Seven Years?

  1. In the mid 90’s a writer from Time Magazine claimed the Internet was a fad and wouldn’t last.
  2. 50% of current Internet users can’t tell the difference between paid search and natural listings.
  3. Always bring coffee and morning breakfast baked goods to every meeting you can.
  4. The best clients are Searchology clients.
  5. Don’t try to save a snapping turtle without a little help from local law enforcement.
  6. Search engine optimization is now a field unto itself and should always be treated that way.
  7. We can now fully see and understand channel attribution funnels and metrics.
  8. There are more channels to advertise and market on than there are days of the year…and you only need to focus on the channels where your clients are not where YOU think they are.
  9. Love your data and your data will still not love you back.
  10. There are a lot of promises thrown around by a lot of agencies and marketing outfits…excellent results take hard work, time, and client effort. No Searcholgist is an island.
  11. 25% of all Internet users Google themselves.
  12. Plan your work and work your plan…always.
  13. Continual education and keeping up with “the Search” is damn near a full-time job.
  14. There is always more to know about the digital space.
  15. Social media isn’t what you think it is…ever.
  16. 30 minutes early is ON TIME.
  17. Time is the one thing we can never take back…so use it wisely.
  18. Google continues to be the monster search engine after all these years.
  19. Primary aspects of search engine optimization have NOT changed all that much over the past 16 years. Content was KING in 2000…and it is more important now than every before.
  20. Website visitors DO read your website if your content is WORTH reading.
  21. In order to be successful in this business or any business…you must be willing to give without the expectation of anything in return.
  22. Sometimes you eat social media…and sometimes social media eats you.
  23. Privacy is now a thing of the past.
  24. Once it’s published…you can’t take it back.
  25. There is no silver bullet. All bullets are required.

Hopefully, our little list provided you with some small insight into what we’ve learned over the years. It is much more extensive than what I’ve posted…but I don’t want to keep you reading all day. We are truly thankful for what we have been given, the trust of our clients, referrals, our partners, and for what we’ve become due to all of the support over the years. Thank you, our readers, and our thanks to all of the people that have helped us grow and prosper. Here is to you and here is to several more decades of Searchology.

Kindly ~ Alton J. Duderstadt II

President | Chief Searchologist

SEO Extortion is a Real Thing…Here is How to Prevent It

Don’t become a victim of SEO extortion

Clients get extorted all of the time in the digital marketing and advertising realm, they simply may not call it ‘extortion.’ It is a hard topic to discuss for some, but paramount for all of us to have a ‘come to Moses’ moment. If you fall out of favor with your digital marketing company for some reason, be prepared for the possibility of becoming a victim of extortion. If you fail to pay your invoice…be prepared for the potentiality of becoming a victim. If you decide to switch vendors, get ready for a possible hijacking of your company’s digital assets.

What is digital hijacking or SEO extortion?

First, let us understand why this happens and what you can do to protect yourself. While the vast majority of digital marketing companies are very fair and honest…there are those who will take your entire website into the deep bowels of hell if you mess with them. Why does this happen?

  1. Late invoice payment
  2. Late or no final invoice payment
  3. You’ve decided to change vendors
  4. Or in this SEO extortion case, a simple threat of creating negative off-page SEO was enough for some companies to pay hefty sums just to keep a really bad SEO out of the search engine results pages [SERPS]. But Stanley didn’t stop there. Apparently, he created entire websites and potentially damaging content and threaten to let loose the SEO Kracken if GE didn’t pay up.
  5. Blackhat SEO practices used against you – I’ll address this in a future post.

Numbers 1 through 3 are very easy to prevent but may be a little complicated at first. Simply put, you must own the keys to your own kingdom. Know your passwords, login credentials, and location for signing in. Yes, it’s really that simple. Make sure you are in the loop and have final control of all services, portals, for social media, tracking, and advertising. This will help ensure that some nefarious digital marketing company can’t hold you hostage due to any of the aforementioned.

Is it really that simple? Yes, yes, it is. There are some settings that may be a little difficult to deal with at first. You need to learn the difference between administrative access and other access levels. That should be the worst of it. Imagine something so simple that can prevent a full-blown shutdown of your digital presence. Make sure you have the same access level or higher than your digital agency. I think the real challenge is making sure you have this at the beginning of your vendor/client relationship not at the end.

How Google Ad Words Is Getting You To Spend More

Google Wants to Help You To…Spend More…and this is how they do it

Fair warning. This post is more digital marketing [industry related] and may not be intended for the general business audience. As such, this may be painful reading for those not yet ensconced in the search. Read on at your own risk. Fair warning delivered. Moving on…

I wrote an article…one of my first, where I complained about the lack of service from those at Google Ad Words. You can read about it here. Not much for a post in 2009 but a post nonetheless. There was a time when the Google Ad Words team wouldn’t help you unless your business was spending at least $10,000.00 per month. Yes, it is true. I have been working in the search since 2002 and during the early years of the Internet [and yes, those were the early days], Google did offer whole teams to help optimize account for maximum effectiveness. Times were much different then. Easier in many ways and more difficult in others.

SEO was a twinkle in just a few marketing mangers eyes and paid search could make a company millions. In fact, PPC can still pull in millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands. I am a huge fan of PPC, in fact. Without question, PPC and drive highly qualified traffic and produce excellent ROI. However, over the past few years, the folks at Google Ad Words have been taking their collective jobs a little too far for my taste and I assume too far for the likes of other companies like mine.

You see, the folks at Google have been calling on clients regularly. Calling on as may clients as they can to help optimize campaigns and improve performance. Mind you, not just calling…but emailing…and following up…and emailing…and calling…and following up…getting you to spend more money. It seems as if the folks at Google Ad Words have gone a little too far. Their exuberance is surpassing their patience or surpassing their collective understanding of good business. In other words, their desire to help has had some negative affects on some highly performing paid search campaigns.

Sure, I have learned some new tricks. That is an easy task when Google continues to roll out new components and assets for Google Ad Words. For the help, I am thankful. But for the changes they have imposed on some of my clients and past returning clients…it has not been a very good thing. In short, Google wants to improve your overall performance to create a better search environment for users. Fully understood.

However, with many of the changes, they request or suggest; bigger monthly and daily budgets, higher bidding on keywords, and additions that will cost advertisers more money in the short and long terms. Yes, I do the same thing IF the situation requires it. But those people at Google carry some great authority and they can be very convincing. Of course they have done a great many good things within these campaigns as well. It can be very hard to decipher the difference between someone wanting to help just to help and someone wanting to help in order to increase the corporate bottom line. Make no mistake about it…Google makes BILLIONS off of Google Ad Words.

I fully respect Google, the founders, and those folks I have had the great pleasure to work with. But Google has to stop being the daddy of the Internet and paid search. There are hundreds of digital marketing professionals that know how to do the same job just as well as the insiders. Those of us that touch these accounts daily don’t need the insider/outsider creating more conflagration on the PPC cabin that has already been built. If I need any assistance, I reach out to Google Ad Words. And for all of their assistance I am grateful. I have stated such in several surveys.  But until I or any of us running PPC campaigns ask for help…or until internal folks at Google verify who is managing these campaigns…they should hold off on the calls, emails, and constant contacting. It is just a little too much.

Is it too much to ask just one more question prior to pilfering clients or asking for more budget? The question is…are you agency or proprietor? I believe it will open a door of opportunity and create better relationships. Thanks Google Ad Words team. I’m sure we will talk again real soon.


5 Things to Know When Working with a Search Agency

It’s time to finally get your SEO project done that you said you were going to take care of months ago. Your executive team knows it’s important, but that’s about it. You have to outsource the project because you know it’s too complex for you to completely take care of along with all your other projects and initiatives. The goal was to hand the keys on to someone else who knows SEO and paid search to get the job done right, but now you need to figure out how to be the liaison between your own team(s) and the search partner you have chosen to work with.

Here is a list of 5 items that will help you manage expectations in that relationship.


  1. You Will Not See Results Overnight

Search professionals evaluate SEO performance using pre-defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs are a combination of metrics that are specifically measured and defined to chart on-site performance or improvement. Most SEO projects do not see any improvement in on-page metrics for up to six or nine months after the project is completed. Depending on when and how you implement your fresh SEO can impact performance as well. For example, when Mobilgeddon hit in April, our clients that had just undergone a mobile-friendly updates didn’t see an impact immediately. Instead, they had to chart specific KPIs over the following weeks to see how mobile users’ interactions with the site had changed. Since those mobile updates time on site, pages visited, and visit durations began to incline incrementally.  These KPIs indicated that the user experience on mobile had improved.


  1. Micro Managing Someone Else’s Project Will Get You Nowhere

It’s imperative to know what your SEO partners are doing at any point in time, but trying to manage the project yourself is only going to make things more difficult. Your search professional is going to be spending hours at a time working on your project(s) and will not have meaningful updates for you every day. One meeting a week can even be too much. Two meetings a month and a call here and there is more than substantial for even larger projects. However, when too many people are in the mix messaging can get confused. Keep a schedule with predetermined deadlines with flexibility in mind. Some items are going to take extra time due to checks and balances. Work will need to be approved before one party can move forward. It can be difficult to get everything when your bosses say they need it, but remember, they don’t always know the methods behind these processes. This makes it all the better to outline duties [internal and external] ahead of time and scope the project with your search partner before you get started.


  1. Content is King

There’s a lot of hype in the digital space about “minimalist” and “one pager” websites. It seems like a great idea because everybody is doing it. Big brands in your industry are doing it too, so shouldn’t you be? Well, no. There are very few cases in which a one page website can be recommended. It is a proven fact that websites with more pages and more text get crawled more, and websites that get crawled more get more visitors, and websites with more visitors get more conversions. It’s that simple. If your business offers a variety of products and services you should have a page dedicated to each individual product or service. The better that copy speaks to your users the more likely they are to fill out a lead form or pick up a phone. If you don’t have good, quality content with specific, clear calls-to-action then you’re going to be missing out. Period.


  1. Don’t Panic If Your Traffic Dives

I see this happen every day it feels like. The second a website’s traffic tanks everybody wants to freak out. That helps nobody. There are a vast amount of variables to consider and a myriad of consequences that could result from a paid search perspective, a search volume perspective, and a web hosting perspective. We’ve seen sites go down without warning, traffic stop overnight, and anything in-between. The fact of the matter is that we aren’t always able to foresee when there is going to be a shift or dive in traffic to your site. However, when it does happen your digital partner is going to have protocols to figure it out in due time – that’s our job. Some people also seem to think that the traffic dips will last forever. Guess what? They won’t. Picking up a phone at 2am on a Saturday isn’t going to help anyone. The best thing you can do is document your findings as best you can, offer any insight you might be able to think of, and then let us do our job.


  1. Help Us Help You With Understanding What We Do

Another thing I cannot stress enough is how frustrating it can be when a client doesn’t know what questions to ask. Sometimes we will work with a team member on the client side that thinks SEO and PPC are the same thing, or reversed, or identical, or who knows what. We do not expect you to know everything, or even half of it. However, it is your job to know which questions to ask us. Simply put – we do not know what you do not know. I love teaching my clients new things about search. There are insights you can gain from your Analytics and reporting dashboards that can help marketing and sales teams immensely if they understand that data in context. There’s also a vast amount of research out there to keep yourself busy if you’re trying to break into the search industry. One thing I have learned over the past few years is that there is major news that impacts our industry every day. Whether it’s a monster update from Google or a new feature added to any Google product, there’s always a new tip, trick, or piece of information that can keep you ahead of the game.


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Colin Mumma is a lead Searchologist at Searchology. He lives and breathes all things SEO and loves quality content. Colin has managed client campaigns at Searchology since 2014.[/author_info] [/author]

The dirtiest word in corporate America is…

There is no top ten list in this post. Only one word incenses and assaults my gray matter more than almost any other word or name in the English language. Sure, Ted Nugent is horrible. Yes, Trump is right up there too.  Covered rock and roll. Covered what-ever-the-hell Trump is now. Moist. Yes, that should go as well. Same for all of the truncated words that used to be full words but are not just too complicated for some of us to fully pronounce or text. There is just one more word I’d like to see drop off every list in the business world…VENDOR.

I’ve long believed that the most important tangible thing in life are the relationships you create and keep. There is nothing more comforting than knowing the known and knowing those who know you. The relations you keep help craft and define the future. A solid relationship continually perpetuates mutually beneficial goals and spurs personal improvement. A good relationship is much like finding a unicorn sleeping in a hollow – sun-drenched in a rainbow. A thing of wonder, magic, and beauty. Yes, it’s corny but it is a vision, no?  And come on…unicorns are cool. Although a liger or growler bear may suit just as well.

With a good relationship, or a really great one, you cannot associate a monetary value with it. Placing a value on such a thing is mostly impossible and should be avoided at all costs. Yet, in corporate America that is exactly what has happened. Relationships equal real money. Real returns. And, at times, real heartaches.

Over 60% of the US economy is service based. Manufacturing and producing consumable goods takes the remainder. As service providers, by default, we must commit to a relationship with clients, and other service providers. And it is during our calls, meetings, emails, Skype sessions, and other digital interactions, we are indeed creating relationships.

During our interactions we create mutual bonds of understanding, compassion, and empathy during our communications…building something more than a binding contract between two parties. We create support systems, sounding boards, call-chains, ideas, openness, and collaboration. We attempt all of this in the face of corporations and business that may want us all to pull the company line.

Vendor is the dirtiest word in corporate culture

As such, we use the name vendor when we refer to companies that provide us goods or services that are not delivered or provide from within our own corporate structure. Vendors help us move products globally, manage systems, monetize new digital channels, discover new areas of opportunity, improve workflow, deliver our latest gadgets, drive ROI, and in some situations, stay up all night to make sure the job gets done. Vendors can make the management team complete, the boss look good, and the board members happy.

However, most of the time…vendors are just that. Vendors. Or hucksters, street merchants, sellers, traffickers, hawkers, traders, and peddlers. Yes, we exchange services and good for money but do the majority of us not do much more? We do indeed. As vendors do we not strive to achieve the holy grail of business…the mutually prosperous relationship? Most certainly. Then why the horrid name vendor? It is demeaning, unsettling, repugnant, and certainly displaces the possibility of a healthy relationship. So let’s stop using the term.

Some change agents needed – lets bring back the warm and fuzzy

In order for business to run at its maximum, it requires people. People, by nature, require relationships and societies. We need to create more meaning and context in what we do as it pertains to our lives and livelihood. Why not? It can only better the human experience and erode the commoditization of those who work with and for our company and cause.

Sure, if we can really get this movement going, I believe we will have to make a few changes. We will have to come up with a new name for VMS [vendor management systems] and come up with some new terms to replace the crappiest term of all…VENDOR. But we can certainly do this together if we try. It shouldn’t be that hard. The Searchology team is willing to go first if you would like to build it together.

Alternates for the word vendor

  • Support team
  • Strategic partners
  • Vertically integrated specialists
  • Exterior experts in residence
  • Granite Team
  • Brand Champions
  • Dedicated account personnel
  • Team Wolf
  • Company name is always nice when tied to surname
  • Collaborative consultants
  • Searchologists

Whatever you decide to run with, you will have my full support as long as it’s not vendor.

Keyword Level Tracking for Calls Now In AdWords

Website Call Conversions Are Here

At Searchology, we love it when our clients see their click-to-call metrics. What gets us excited about these reports is that not only do we know where the call was made from, what time of the day they were made, or how long the calls were, it’s that they don’t cost our clients anything. When a visitor clicks on your phone number extension in your ads it doesn’t count as a click, and therefore costs you nothing. It’s having your cake and eating it too. How great is that? But wait – it gets even better. Now, in Ad Words, you can see which keywords are driving your phone conversions.

Seventy percent of all mobile searchers have called a business directly from PPC ads. This new functionality helps marketers get more information out of these calls.

A happy client makes for a happy business owner, so now more than ever seems like the perfect time to optimize your AdWords call extensions to see how they can be used to drive more conversions, or at least, more leads for your sales team. Here are some top-level reasons why this is good for marketers:

  • Associate more value of your PPC efforts to your sales team
  • Strengthen campaigns where calls are the highest form of conversion
  • Know which calls are more valuable
    • [i.e. Calls from page A aren’t converting as much as page B]
  • Automated bid adjustments target pages that drive the most qualified calls
  • Geo target areas with the highest amount of calls

How You Can Get Started with Website Call Conversions

In order to implement these new features and start putting them to use you must currently have a Google AdWords account with call extensions enabled and a valid phone number. If you already have those things in place head over to AdWords Help for setting up website conversion tracking for calls. Or heck, call us and we can do it all for you. (312) 316-7202.

Useful Links:

Visit Google’s Official Blog for AdWords for more information about how to implement click-to-call ads and website call conversions.


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Colin Mumma is a lead Searchologist at Searchology. He lives and breathes all things SEO and loves quality content. Colin has managed client campaigns at Searchology since 2014.[/author_info] [/author]

Nonworking Media Spend: Another Buzz Word With Teeth

A recent article in Advertising Age discussed the idea of ‘nonworking media spend’ vs. working media vs. earned media and [for the love of Pete] owned media.  In short, the article discusses the rising requests from large companies, asking agency partners to trim down the cost of content production.

For example: spend less on creative, creative thinking, concepts, content, production and just give us red meat to throw at the masses. But whatever you do Agency Types…quit charging us for what you do best…creativity. God forbid we pay for your time…we just…can’t do…it.

The emergence of nonworking media spend is utter B.S. The idea that you take the creative out of the process and demand a lesser fee so the client can dump it into working media is understandable…however it does not work. Agencies create. They have entire teams who’s job depends on their creativity. Take that out of the mix and what do you have? Crap. That is what you have.

Here is the interesting thing: a recent article in the New York Times shows worker productivity growing while wages remain stagnant. Corporations bottom line continues to grow and only they [shareholders] profit from the work of their work-force. I can see a direct correlation between corporate America now turning to their ad agencies and asking the same. “Give us more for less.”

Companies are frequently asking for 45 plus hours a week without equal pay. Managers say, “Hey, you are lucky to even have a job.” More work, less pay means higher profits for shareholders. Really simple math.

On the agency side…I see the issue as well. Huge overhead and large personnel count equals large fees. Large fees do not always equate to quality or value. During my time spent in agency life I could not believe what was charged for the work preformed. It was a little mind blowing. Again, huge overhead…lots of bodies means large fees not necessarily large profits.

So where does this leave us? It will inevitably leave us in the hands that feed us. Unless you can prove value and take ownership of the job at hand. Even then, it may not be enough to survive heavy client demands without the compensation for time, effort, content, creative and execution.

There is the matter of self worth as well. What do you think your time is worth? What does your client think your time is worth? Who is right? You or them. I believe it is very subjective. Corporate wants more for less and agencies want what they believe is fair pay for fair work. The danger lies somewhere in the mist: making creative types commodities. Making peoples time a commodity.

Time waits for no one. Time is all we really do have control over. Or at least what we do with our time. As time is not promised to anyone…is time not our most valuable commodity? I believe so.

I do know that if the current trend turns into a norm…we will continue to have some pretty major socioeconomic issues. There is a filed that we can all play on – and all play on equal terms. Time is precious for all of us. Ergo – time is not free for others to ask as they will of us. Nonworking media spend is another buzz word with very very big teeth. But full disclosure of where time goes and what it is for may help take the bit out of this monster.


Where to spend marketing budgets online – Big Questions

At the start of the Internet revolution there were limited choices for website surfers. Yahoo, Netscape and in 2004…Google peaked with 84.7% of all search engine requests. How times have changed.Facebook now claims 800 million users with 50% checking in every day. Recent reports from Pew show that 83% of all Americans own a cell phone and 51% use their phones to gain instant information. By 2012 one out of every two cell phones will be a smartphone. A recent study by Webtrends suggests:

…social and mobile networks will dominate the online traffic landscape in a big way…The game is no longer about the comforts of your website’s ‘Walled Garden’, but about the risks and rewards of arriving on the social network.” Webtrends -article.
So what does this mean for your website presence? Where do you allocate your budget and resources? How is it possible to have a share of voice in social media, mobile, search engine optimization and paid search at the same time? 

As the Internet continues to explode and fragment, it is more important than ever before to ensure your company has a solid footing in all of the channels [as mentioned above] or risk loosing branded website traffic and new visitor website traffic. It is not just traffic you stand to loose…it is sales, conversions, leads and return on your online marketing investment. How can you gain footing in all of these spots without taking away from others? The simple answer is you cannot. 

Budgets need to be reallocated to target the online markets. Your target market is already online by means of cell phones, tablets, portables and yes, desktops. Where is your budget? Take a look at your traditional media spend and revise your plan to include more online opportunities versus less track-able forms of branding and advertising. 

There is no perfect solution to finding your audience and converting them into a sale, lead or other metric. But the fact is the Internet is where the money, people and opportunities are. If your site, company and brand are not online in mobile, social, SEO and other forms of paid advertising…you simply do not exist. If the current trends continue it is very possible that your company may cannibalize itself into nonexistence. Why would this happen? By not paying attention to what and where your audience is…the chance of eating yourself from within due to inaction increases exponentially. 

So what can you do to work within these spaces and attract your audience? Allocate the resources or perish. Find someone within your company who can work on your social media and communicate with fans and followers. Work on your website with new and fresh content [no excuses] by way of blog entries and new articles. Use paid search and “click to call” to target both search engine results and the mobile audience. Of course all of this depends on what your key performance indicators, goals and company objectives are.

I’ve long said, “Situation dictates situation.” Deep analysis, accurate tracking and resources all play a major role in how you attack the ongoing shift in the online realm. The fact is you can no longer ignore the online space and allocate less to these online channels. More than 10% of big brand budgets are now allocated to online marketing efforts. I would recommend more than 20% to 40% should be dedicated to Internet efforts. Again, situation dictates situation. The facts are clear ~ take on the online space, measure, improve and succeed or risk being eaten up internally and by your competition. 

Ethical SEO & Ethical Standards

I’ve recently heard a pretty nasty horror story about how a local Chicago online marketing firm treated their client. Unfortunately I cannot disclose the details but the situation prompted me to point out some issues regarding ethical SEO practices, ethical treatment as it pertains to clients and Internet marketing in general.

Let all of us in any business remember that without our clients and consumers we have nothing. No business, no revenue, and zero credibility and no pot to cook in. How we treat those that spend their hard earned money and revenue on our products and services is critical to longevity and long term success. Respect, honesty, transparency should run both ways in any healthy relationship. Is it time for the ethics lesson? Yes, it is.

There are certain industries that rank at the bottom of the barrel on the respect meter. Lawyers and car dealers are the first to my mind. Coming up fast behind are the Internet marketing outfits. Over my nine years in the industry I continue to hear stories of how clients are being held hostage and treated terribly throughout the business relationship and ending contracts by such firms.

There are certain things that your SEO agency and Internet marketing firm should NEVER do to their clients.

  1. Withhold important information regarding account access.
  2. Falsify data as it pertains to reporting [of any nature].
  3. Use trickery and nefarious tactics to gain the upper hand on a client.
  4. Over charge for services that they do not deliver on.
  5. Over charge for services as a general rule.
  6. Fail to divulge strategy for SEO and online marketing.
  7. Treat clients with disrespect.
  8. Arrive late for meetings [this happens more often than you may think].
  9. Claim ethical “white hat” SEO practices when in reality they use “gray hat” or “black hat” strategies.
  10. Fail to provide transparency regarding SEO and online marketing methodologies.

I can continue building out this list…but this is a pretty solid start. As a business owner or company agent, you should treat your clients as you would like to be treated. If the current practices continue by SEO and Internet marketing companies continue, I promise you the digital industry will end up as bottom feeders.

So what can you do as a potential client for one of these companies? READ YOUR CONTRACT! Don’t read it once…read it several times. Grill your potential account managers, sales people, and the executives of the company. Yes, the executives. They are the individuals who set the standards for all to follow. If you smell any shady business…RUN and do not look back.
It is important to note that clients are responsible for WHAT they know…and those that serve their clients are responsible for providing the information needed to have a successful relationship. I can only hope for more transparency, honest, and integrity from all SEO and search marketing firms as time rolls on.
Unfortunately, not all companies are equal and not all companies set fourth a set of ethics and standards. Make sure you thoroughly review and dive into the company you trust your marketing to. Some care more about their bottom lines than they do for the service of the clients they serve.