white hat seo

Are You Working At A Black Hat Agency?

Posted on Posted in seo, white hat seo

So You Just Started At An Agency And…They’re Nothing But Blackhat

What To Do If You Find Yourself Working With A Black Hat Agency

I recently completed a brief stint in the spring/early summer attempting to rebuild a black hat SEO agency into a white hat inbound content marketing agency and once again I saw exactly what I had seen in the past.

It was the typical setup of third party tools masking a genuine lack of understanding of proper online marketing principles and principles in general.

They had sold dozens of clients on black hat SEO and their attitude was ‘we can’t change now or they’ll know‘.

The day after I left I was working with another agency and I had a solid talk with a few peers about the nuisance of the agencies out there who refuse to put int the effort to do SEO strategies right and instead rely on dishonesty and scams.

Fortunately I’d been through these kinds of things before so I was more than prepared and I even hinted to the in house black hat SEO adviser they had in place that I would be leaving soon no matter what. They had sold dozens of clients on black hat SEO and their attitude was ‘we can’t change now or they’ll know‘.

I talked to people who I know understand the pitfalls of SEO as an industry and the annoying trend of new scam agencies popping up all the time. They understood completely and applauded my tactics which made me feel much better about having been dishonest with the personnel in the scam agency.

I was fortunate to be quite seasoned in this industry. I can spot a rat from across the room with the lights out.

Anyone afraid of a paper trail is dangerous to you so if you do find yourself in a position where your employer is worried about you keeping notes then start looking elsewhere.

So what do you you do if you find yourself working at a scam agency?

Document everything. It’s important to keep yourself protected. I had the fortunate luck to be recording when a senior team member went well beyond just boasting about the reality of what they were charging clients for vs. what they were doing. One client hadn’t paid up yet and this employee felt it was because of anti-semetic statement I don’t care to repeat.

You don’t have to be sneaky or underhanded. You can even be up front and tell people you document everything so you can reference it later on.

Anyone afraid of a paper trail is dangerous to you so if you do find yourself in a position where your employer is worried about you keeping notes then start looking elsewhere.

Junk agencies come and go. They rebrand or simply disappear but the bottom line is if they’re not being honest with their clients they won’t last very long.

Look For A Better Option

The day after I walked from the black hat agency I started up with a BC based agency and they’re amazing. They’re honest, nice to work with, and the results are there for their clients.

This industry is still in its infancy and can change on a dime. There are always options for those who focus on their skill set over their wallet and if you’re in it for the long haul then you should do the former. You’ll always be able to find work because you basically have an intellectual trade.

Junk agencies come and go. They rebrand or simply disappear but the bottom line is if they’re not being honest with their clients they won’t last very long.

When I look at who to work with I look at the people first. Some places may not have the best tactics but are willing to change if a case is properly made to change.

Don’t Be A Victim

It’s dicey to boast about having been prepared to deal with a black hat agency when always on the lookout for new opportunities but at the same time not protecting yourself can lead to you either being stuck or in some cases I’ve seen… even blamed for the bad SEO tactics.

6 years ago I worked with a very disreputable agency who closed not long after. The owner had lead the charge, was bullheaded, and yet when he folded he placed all the blame on two  staff members from Russia and the Ukraine. They had been vocal opponents to his hard line dishonesty but of course that doesn’t matter to a thief in charge.

White Hat SEO & Content Marketing Makes Sense

While some big players in SEO still like to cite subtle algorithm changes or platform updates as big deals in SEO the reality is if you’re honest and know inbound marketing with social components you’re already well beyond any tricks of the trade.

I like to stay up to date in case of major platform changes or new services that could help with a client’s exposure but the core focus is on honestly marketing them online.

Don’t forget that liars never win and honesty and integrity really are much better for long term careers in online marketing than any attempts to fool search engines and by extension users.

  • White hat SEO makes sense
  • Good content marketing makes sense
  • Having keyphrase strategies makes sense
  • Social promotions for your clients makes sense (it’s why Twitter and Facebook have any value…aside from when they sell user information)

Be Prepared But Don’t Just Leave

If you find yourself at a black hat agency don’t just quit. It’s important to first establish proof that any black hat methods employed were contrary to your advisement. Drop hints that you know they’re doing black hat. Let them know you know before you go. It keeps them from ever trying to blame you for anything they’re doing later on.

If you have any issues that you feel you need additional help with by all means get in touch. Good SEO professionals are few and far between so I never hesitate to help another out when in need.

 

Advanced Search Marketing SEO, Content Marketing, Usability, Inbound Marketing, Social Integration, Paid Marketing
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