Beware of the Numerous Hack Agencies

To make a digital impact in today’s market, companies need a solid SEO and content strategy. From the biggest business mogul to the smallest online mom and pop shop, the right content plan and SEO research can really help your business. It’s almost impossible not to.

The trouble is that many business owners don’t exactly know how to make digital marketing work for them. Unfortunately, there are some hack digital agencies who know that, too. These businesses swoop in on unsuspecting victims with false promises that can end up costing you more and hurt your bottom dollar. If you are searching for a digital marketing agency, here are 25 ways to recognize a hack.

Top 25 Ways to Recognize a Hack Digital Agency- know who you are dealing with

1. They Are Relatively Unknown

Though not necessarily a red flag – many lesser-known agencies are good. However, you should be cautious since they might have nothing to reference. You should be particularly suspicious if the agency boasts that they have a lot of clients. If an agency is unknown but makes claims that they cannot back up, it would be wise to avoid them.

2. How You Initially Meet And Are Referred

Consider your introduction to this agency. Has someone you know recommended them?

Did they reach out at random or did someone reach out on their behalf? How did they manage to find you? Hack agencies will cast out a net in the hopes of snagging a client. Normally, you’ll search for a company if you are looking for a service. Be wary of any – they just “pop up.”

3. Website Quality

An easy way to spot a hack digital agency is by looking at their website. Check out the advertising style, the look, how the pages are organized, and their site information. What does their content look like? Thin pages, an antiquated look, and low activity are dead giveaways that a digital agency isn’t up to par.

4. Their Own SEO

How is the agency using their skills to get their own information out there? Quite simply, how can you trust a digital agency to boost your SEO ranks if they aren’t ranking well themselves? If they are ranking high in search, make sure they aren’t paying for space. A good digital agency should be able to rank organically.

5. Poor Representation

Having a strong team is important for SEO. There are so many intricate parts that it takes a whole team of copywriters, web experts, and SEO analysts. The team should be represented on the site. Do they have a clear team? Or is it one person? The team should be well-rounded and a decent size.

6. No Social Media Presence

A digital agency should know how to market itself, and that includes having a social media presence. A good agency should have digital presence! Whether on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, an agency should have a fair amount of activity and should be building its brand. Social media is a great way to reach consumers and connect with potential clients. If the agency doesn’t use it for themselves, how would they be able to plan for you?

7.  LinkedIn Is Lacking

Like social media, building a professional presence is important, too. LinkedIn is a great tool to build bigger networks, reach out to other businesses, and recruit fresh talent. But beware of any digital agencies that blindly reach out to you; especially if you haven’t advertised any interest in building on your digital marketing strategy.

a social media presence is vital for agencies

8. Team Representation

Okay, say the agency that wants you to hire them does have a team represented on their website. That’s great! But what do they say about those members? How current is that information? A hack agency will go as far to include team members who are no longer have a position with the company. You want to see who’s working for your company. A reputable digital agency will proudly display their team’s skills, background, experience, and role – and it will be current.

9. Targeting

A hack agency doesn’t know what you do. It doesn’t know about your business. They just see you as dollar signs. When they reach out, either blindly or by doing a little research, they will be very aggressive with their tactics.

10. How They View The Competition

Competition is good. It makes a business thrive. What doesn’t improve on business is bad-mouthing competitors constantly. An agency’s focus shouldn’t be on what other SEO businesses do; it should be on what they can do for you.

11. Promising Fast Results

This is a huge red flag. Any agency promising fast results is cause for alarm. Building up your brand and establishing solid SEO results takes time. Any “fast” results a company gets for you will usually be as a result if underhanded, black hat tactics. While you may see an initial boost, your results may plummet after a few weeks, or worse – you could be blacklisted by Google.

12. Not Showing Long-Term Results

A good SEO will be able to show their long-term results when it comes to other clients. In fact, they’ll show off their success. What you have to watch out for are the short-term spikes. A good digital agency will perform regular maintenance when algorithms change, and these results will be pretty good long-term. Hack agencies will rise initially and crash hard just as fast.

13. Poor Communication

If you can’t connect with your agency, how are you going to get things done? Communication should be clear, open, and show results. If an agency is missing calls, emails, etc… you should definitely take your business elsewhere.

14. There Are No Recent Clients

Maybe the service was good once – but what about their tactics now? What are they doing to stay relevant? Google changes algorithms all the time. What worked when SEO began certainly won’t work now! If the agency is relying on antiquated tactics, avoid them at all costs.

digital hack agencies will promise high rankings15. Promising High Rankings

Okay – there’s a lot to getting that first spot in the Google search engine. Any agency that jumps into link building and guest posts immediately will get you high rankings but at a terrible cost. Again – these shady, black hat tactics may have worked during the onset of SEO, but Google and other search engines have gotten wise to those spammy techniques. The focus should be on user experience on content rather than the quick fix. The quick fix usually ends up having long-term consequences.

16.  Focusing On What You Need

Does this company focus on how much money they can get from you rather than what you need? What if you already have a strong audience and you just want to branch out to different markets? What if you want to introduce a new product or opened business in a new area? Maybe you don’t need an overhaul – but if they don’t ask the right questions and bombard you with services you don’t need, look elsewhere.

17. One Size For Every Company

Much like the previous point, if an agency has the same old song and dance for your company as they do for others, that’s a bad sign. No two companies are alike. You may not want or need certain services, and a bad agency will try to force the wrong puzzle piece to fit.

18. Trying To Talk Circles

A good agency won’t try to confuse you with technical jargon. They will try to be clear, concise, and explain what they want to do with your business to build your brand. A bad agency will hide behind jargon to sound more promising. Digital marketing is complicated, data-driven, and takes time. Fancy talk won’t get the work done.

19. Reusing Templates Or Cutting Corners

Much like the “one size fits all” model, reusing tactics and website designs is a bad sign. If this agency handles similar clients, it wouldn’t be in your best interest to look the same. A good agency will have a different approach and look for your unique situation.

20.  Emphasis On Payment

Transparency is important for any business relationship. A good company will be clear about their rates when you ask. Also, during a business discussion, payments and money won’t be the focus. A bad agency will focus on the overall dollar signs.

21. Unprofessional Conduct

An easy way to spot a hack agency is by watching how they conduct themselves; in meetings, through email, and phone conversations. How do they respond when they don’t meet your expectations? Business is business, and it should be conducted maturely.

22. Consider Their Partners

Much like the company we keep, our business partners also reflect the overall reputation of the company. Who they work with? Are they a partner by association only or do they actually work with the agency? It’s okay if an agency hires specialists to fill in gaps – but make sure you check them out too.

23. Do They Invest In Their Facility?

If an agency treats its employees like garbage, it may not bode well for you. Low morale and overworked workers may mean less attention to your business needs. How do they treat their employees? Do they have one SEO doing all the work? Do they have good resources, proper training, and decent staff? Where do they meet, and how do they meet with you? A company should take care of its employees so they can take care of yours.

hack digital marketing agencies miss deadlines - a lot

24. Missing Deadlines

This one is huge. We are all human – but deadlines are put in place for a reason. An agency that constantly misses deadlines without explanation, a game plan, or solution is a major red flag. This is where transparency is crucial. If they constantly change deadlines and results are not going anywhere, drop that agency.

25.  Bad Reviews

Unhappy customers are unhappy for a reason. If there are a ton of bad reviews, that’s reason enough to avoid a company. Look at how the agency interacts with dissatisfied customers; are they professional? Also – watch out for polarizing reviews. Those positive reviews may not be credible. Be mindful of very black and white views.

Watch out for these red flags and steer clear of any black hat digital marketing agencies. If you want to grow your brand and your digital presence, find a company that will have your best interests in mind.



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