The Hidden Dangers of Trusting SEO Companies Blindly: Unveiling the Risks and Consequences

Oct 5, 2023

<a href="" target="_self">Matt Bertram</a>

Matt Bertram

Matt Bertram is a award-winning marketing consultant and SEO Expert. He is the lead digital strategist at EWR Digital. Host of the Best SEO Podcast and Co-Host of the Oil and Gas sales and marketing podcast.

The Dangers of Entrusting Your Website to SEO Companies Without Understanding Their Actions

In this digital era, establishing a robust online presence is essential for any business striving to succeed. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) serves as a critical tool in boosting website visibility and attracting organic traffic, you know this and that is why you are here reading this blog. While partnering with reputable SEO companies can yield positive results, it is imperative for your company to exercise caution and fully comprehend the actions of these firms before entrusting them with your website. Remember that the algos never forget and what you do online can always be found. You want to make sure that you trust and know what your online agent is doing on your behalf. You do not have to become a marketing company yourself but you do need to understand the bigger points of the strategy and the work being done.

Potential dangers of blindly relying on SEO companies

  1. The Impact of Misplaced Trust: Imagine the excitement of launching a website and eagerly anticipating its success. However, entrusting an SEO company without understanding their strategies can lead to unforeseen pitfalls. Instances of black-hat tactics, which violate search engine guidelines, can result in severe penalties, damaging your website’s reputation and organic visibility. Some of these unethical tactics include: keyword stuffing, cloaking, and using private link networks.
  2. Real-Life Consequences: Consider the unfortunate experiences of businesses that fell victim to unscrupulous SEO companies. Some faced Google penalties that deindexed their websites, effectively wiping out their online presence overnight. Others encountered a significant drop in rankings due to unethical practices employed by their SEO partner. These real-life examples highlight the importance of due diligence when selecting an SEO company.

What I have personally seen is that Google as moved away from manuel penalities but more algorithmic penalities when you over optimize for a word and move outside of a “standard deviation” lets say, Google will not let you rank for it. I also know with penalities will Bing are much less forgiving. – Matt Bertram

  1. The Value of Transparency: Transparency is the cornerstone of a fruitful partnership. When interviewing SEO companies, insist on open communication and a thorough understanding of their strategies. Reputable companies will willingly provide insights into their approach, allowing you to make an informed decision. Trustworthy agencies prioritize your long-term success and collaborate closely with you throughout the SEO journey. I have found it’s much better to say. Yes, the data looks bad, or we might have miscalculated this or that, but here is what we are going to do about it.
  2. The White-Hat vs. Black-Hat Dilemma: Distinguishing between white-hat and black-hat SEO practices is vital. White-hat techniques align with search engine guidelines, focusing on quality content, natural link building, and user experience. On the other hand, black-hat tactics involve manipulative practices like keyword stuffing, cloaking, and purchasing links. Educating yourself about these practices helps you safeguard your website from potential harm. What I can tell you is if you put in just as much work in white-hat strategies vs black hat stratgies you will be just fine!
  3. Prioritizing Ethical Strategies: When interviewing SEO companies, inquire about their commitment to ethical SEO practices. A reputable agency will emphasize sustainable growth and employ strategies that adhere to search engine guidelines. By focusing on long-term success rather than quick fixes, they protect your website from penalties and foster organic growth.
  4. Case Studies and Client Testimonials: One of the best ways to evaluate an SEO company’s credibility is by reviewing their case studies and client testimonials. By examining the success stories of businesses they have worked with, you gain insights into their capabilities and the results they can deliver. This step allows you to make an informed decision based on real-world evidence.
  5. Reporting and Analytics: Ask how the SEO company will measure and report the success of their efforts. Inquire about the analytics tools they use, the frequency of reporting, and the metrics they track. Clear and transparent reporting is essential to monitor the progress of your SEO campaign. Now I will be honest this changes alot for us and each client is different. We however, drive every decision by the data that we have at hand.
  6. Industry Knowledge and Updates: Discuss the SEO company’s approach to staying updated with the latest industry trends and algorithm changes. A reputable company will demonstrate a commitment to ongoing learning and adapt their strategies to keep up with search engine updates.
SEO Myth vs SEO Reality

Examples of the Consequences of Misplaced Trust

As your company ventures into the realm of SEO, it is crucial to approach it with caution and informed decision-making. Blindly entrusting an SEO company without understanding their strategies and track record can have detrimental consequences. By prioritizing transparency, learning about white-hat and black-hat practices, and thoroughly evaluating SEO companies through case studies and client testimonials, you can safeguard your website’s reputation and ensure long-term success. Remember, it’s your company’s online presence at stake, so take the time to choose an SEO partner wisely.

Throughout our discussion, we’ve emphasized the importance of understanding and being cautious when trusting SEO companies with your website. Here are some real-life examples that illustrate the potential dangers of misplaced trust:

  1. The Devastating Impact of Google Penalties: In one instance, a business unknowingly hired an SEO company that engaged in black-hat tactics. As a result, their website was hit with severe Google penalties, leading to a complete deindexing. Overnight, their online presence vanished, and they had to invest significant time and resources in rectifying the damage.
  2. Drastic Drop in Rankings due to Unethical Practices: Another business partnered with an SEO company that promised quick results through manipulative practices. The company employed strategies like keyword stuffing and purchased low-quality backlinks. However, when search engines caught onto these practices, the business experienced a significant drop in rankings and lost valuable organic traffic.
  3. Negative Impact on User Experience and Reputation: Some SEO companies may resort to adding irrelevant or low-quality outbound links to your website without your knowledge. This can result in a compromised user experience as visitors are directed to unrelated or potentially harmful websites. Moreover, such practices tarnish your brand’s reputation and erode trust among your target audience.
  4. Wasted Resources and Missed Opportunities: When misplaced trust leads to poor SEO practices, businesses often waste valuable time, money, and resources. Instead of achieving sustainable growth and long-term success, they find themselves backtracking, fixing the damage caused, and seeking reputable SEO services. These missed opportunities can hinder business growth and hinder competitiveness in the online landscape.


Cautionary Tales: Real-World Examples of SEO Gone Wrong

Lack of Transparency: One of the primary risks of placing blind trust in an SEO company is the lack of transparency in their methods. Unscrupulous agencies may employ black-hat techniques that violate search engine guidelines. These techniques can provide short-term gains but can ultimately lead to severe penalties, such as being removed from search engine results altogether.

Example: In 2012, J.C. Penney, a prominent American retailer, faced a significant setback when it was discovered that their SEO agency had used manipulative tactics to boost the company’s rankings. As a result, J.C. Penney’s website was penalized, leading to a dramatic drop in their search visibility.

Unethical Link Building: Link building is an essential aspect of SEO, but when executed improperly, it can harm your website’s reputation. Some SEO companies engage in buying or spamming links, which can lead to severe consequences. Search engines, like Google, value quality over quantity when it comes to links, and they actively penalize websites associated with manipulative link-building practices.

Example: In 2013, Interflora, a popular flower delivery service in the UK, faced a Google penalty due to unethical link-building practices. Interflora and numerous newspaper websites were involved in a paid link scheme, leading to a significant drop in their search rankings.

Content Quality and Relevance: SEO encompasses various strategies, including content optimization. While well-optimized content can enhance your website’s visibility, trusting an SEO company blindly may result in poor-quality or irrelevant content that fails to engage your target audience. Low-quality content not only damages your brand’s credibility but also hampers your chances of achieving sustainable long-term growth.

Example: Over-optimization of content was a significant issue in the past. Websites that excessively repeated keywords and employed other manipulative techniques were penalized by search engines. This led to reduced rankings and visibility for many businesses relying solely on their SEO companies’ practices.

Negative Online Reputation: Handing over the reins of your website’s SEO to an incompetent or untrustworthy company can have detrimental effects on your online reputation. Poor SEO practices can result in negative user experiences, such as slow loading times, broken links, or irrelevant search results. These factors can damage your brand image and deter potential customers from engaging with your website.

Example: In 2011, the prominent electronics retailer,, faced a backlash when it was revealed that they had encouraged universities to include links to their website in exchange for student discounts. This unethical practice resulted in a Google penalty, severely impacting their online reputation.

While there are reputable SEO companies that can significantly improve your website’s performance, entrusting your online presence blindly to any agency can have dire consequences. Lack of transparency, unethical practices, poor content quality, and negative reputational impact are just a few of the dangers associated with SEO companies if their actions aren’t understood. It is crucial to thoroughly research and select a trustworthy SEO partner or invest time in understanding the basics of SEO to make informed decisions that align with your long-term goals. Remember, an informed website owner is better equipped to safeguard their online presence and drive sustainable growth.

One of the things that I think might be the worst is if you have contractors working on your website and they actually sell guest post links or even niche edits that you don’t know is happening or receive any benfit from that could be compromising to your website or brand.

Trusted Adviser Word cloud

How to Interview SEO Companies

When interviewing an SEO company, it’s important to ask the right questions to gain a clear understanding of their practices, strategies, and expertise. Here are some key questions to consider based on our previous discussion:

  • Can you explain your approach to SEO and the strategies you employ?

This question helps you understand the SEO company’s methodology and if it aligns with your goals and expectations. Look for an agency that emphasizes ethical practices, long-term strategies, and a focus on user experience.

  • How do you ensure transparency in your work?

Transparency is crucial for a successful partnership. Inquire about how the SEO company keeps you informed about their activities, progress, and any changes made to your website. A reliable agency should be open to sharing reports, data, and insights regularly.

  • Can you provide examples of successful SEO campaigns you’ve worked on?

Request case studies or examples of previous clients’ success stories. This helps you gauge the agency’s experience, track record, and ability to deliver results. Look for evidence of sustainable growth, improved rankings, and increased organic traffic.

  • What is your approach to content optimization?

Content optimization is a vital aspect of SEO. Ask about their strategies for keyword research, on-page optimization, and creating high-quality, engaging content that resonates with both users and search engines. Look for agencies that prioritize providing value to your audience.

  • How do you acquire backlinks and ensure their quality?

Backlinks play a significant role in SEO. Inquire about the SEO company’s link-building practices, emphasizing the importance of acquiring high-quality, relevant links from authoritative sources. Ensure they employ white-hat techniques and steer clear of manipulative tactics.

  • How do you stay updated with the latest SEO trends and algorithm changes?

SEO is a constantly evolving field. Ask how the agency stays abreast of industry trends, algorithm updates, and best practices. Look for a company that demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning, attending conferences, participating in industry forums, or engaging in ongoing professional development.

  • How do you measure and report on the success of your SEO campaigns?

Understanding how the agency measures success is crucial. Inquire about the metrics they track, the tools they use for analytics, and how they provide reports. Look for comprehensive reporting that includes key performance indicators, insights, and actionable recommendations.

Remember, these questions are meant to guide your conversation and help you evaluate the suitability of an SEO company for your specific needs. Adapt them based on your industry, goals, and priorities to gain the most valuable insights during the interview process.


Why Understanding SEO Company Practices is Vital

An informed decision is crucial when selecting an SEO company. Understanding the difference between black-hat and white-hat techniques will help you identify trustworthy partners who prioritize your website’s long-term success over shortcuts that can harm your online presence.

Understanding what an SEO company is doing with your website is crucial for several reasons. Not only does it ensure that ethical practices are being followed, but it also safeguards your website from potential risks and prevents any misuse of your online presence. One such risk to be aware of is the practice of link brokering, where an SEO company may use your website to buy or sell links without your knowledge or consent. Here are some reasons why it’s important to understand what they are doing and signs that link brokering may be occurring:

  1. Protecting Your Website’s Reputation: Link brokering involves acquiring links from low-quality or spammy websites, which can harm your website’s reputation in the eyes of search engines. When your website is associated with poor-quality links, it may result in penalties, lower rankings, and decreased organic visibility. By understanding the SEO company’s link-building strategy, you can ensure that they are adhering to ethical practices and acquiring high-quality, relevant links that benefit your website’s reputation.
  2. Maintaining Compliance with Search Engine Guidelines: Search engines like Google have strict guidelines regarding link schemes and manipulative practices. If an SEO company engages in link brokering without your knowledge, it puts your website at risk of violating these guidelines. Being aware of their practices allows you to ensure that your website remains compliant, avoiding any potential penalties or loss of organic traffic.
  3. Preserving User Experience: Link brokering often involves placing irrelevant or low-quality links on your website, which can negatively impact user experience. These links may lead to irrelevant or potentially harmful websites, diminishing the trust and credibility of your brand. Understanding what the SEO company is doing with your website enables you to maintain a positive user experience by ensuring that the links added are relevant, valuable, and enhance the overall user journey.

Signs that link brokering may be happening:

  1. Sudden Influx of Irrelevant Outbound Links: If you notice a sudden increase in outbound links on your website, especially to unrelated or low-quality websites, it could be an indication of link brokering. Monitor your website regularly to ensure that the outbound links align with your content and provide value to your visitors.
  2. Unusual Link Placement Patterns: If you observe that links are being added in strange or unrelated places within your website’s content, such as in the middle of sentences or in non-contextual areas, it could be a sign of link brokering. Properly placed links should enhance
  3. Lack of Transparency in Link Building Strategies: If the SEO company is hesitant to provide detailed information about their link-building strategies or is evasive when you inquire about the sources of the acquired links, it raises suspicions. A reputable SEO company should be transparent and willing to explain their approach, including the quality and relevance of the links they are building for your website.
  4. Unusual Link Requests or Offers: Be cautious if the SEO company requests permission to add links to your website that are unrelated to your industry or content. Similarly, if they approach you with offers to sell links from your website to third parties, it could indicate their involvement in link brokering. Genuine SEO agencies focus on building organic and relevant links that align with your website’s niche.
  5. Fluctuations in Search Engine Rankings: If you notice significant and sudden fluctuations in your search engine rankings, it may be a result of link brokering. Poor-quality links or participation in link schemes can trigger algorithmic penalties, causing your website’s rankings to drop. Monitor your rankings regularly and investigate any sharp declines to identify potential link-related issues.

Understanding what an SEO company is doing with your website is vital to protect its reputation, maintain compliance with search engine guidelines, and preserve a positive user experience. The practice of link brokering can have detrimental effects on your website’s visibility and credibility. By staying informed, monitoring for signs of link brokering, and maintaining open communication with your SEO company, you can ensure that ethical practices are followed and your website’s online presence remains secure and thriving.

Finding the Perfect Balance: Great, Fast, and Cheap SEO Strategies

Partner with EWR Digital: Your Trusted SEO Agency for Results-Driven Success

In the fast-paced world of digital marketing, selecting a well respected SEO agency to propel your website’s visibility and attract organic traffic is paramount. EWR Digital stands apart with our unwavering commitment to transparency, ethical practices, innovative strategies, content optimization prowess, white-hat link building techniques, comprehensive reporting, industry expertise, and a proven track record. In this unique blog, we present compelling reasons why EWR Digital should be your go-to SEO agency for achieving remarkable results.

  1. Embracing Transparency and Ethical Excellence: At EWR Digital, we firmly believe that transparency is the foundation of a successful partnership. Our commitment to open communication ensures you understand every step of our SEO process. We strictly adhere to ethical practices, guaranteeing the long-term success and integrity of your website.
  2. Crafting Tailor-Made, Long-Term Strategies: Cookie-cutter approaches won’t cut it in the complex world of SEO. EWR Digital tailors each strategy to suit your unique goals, industry landscape, and target audience. We employ innovative, long-term strategies that deliver sustainable growth, propelling your website to new heights of visibility and success.
  3. Mastering the Art of Content Optimization: Creating exceptional content that captivates both users and search engines is our forte. EWR Digital’s team of skilled SEO professionals conducts meticulous keyword research, employs cutting-edge on-page optimization techniques, and crafts compelling, informative content that resonates with your audience. Our content optimization expertise ensures your website not only ranks high but also provides valuable experiences to visitors.
  4. Ethical Link Building for Lasting Impact: At EWR Digital, we understand the importance of building a strong, authoritative online presence. Our white-hat link building strategies focus on acquiring natural, high-quality backlinks through targeted outreach, relationship building, and content promotion. Rest assured, our tactics are free from manipulative practices, ensuring long-lasting benefits for your website.
  5. Unveiling Actionable Insights with Robust Reporting: Data-driven decision-making is at the core of our approach. EWR Digital provides comprehensive reporting using advanced analytics tools, empowering you with actionable insights. Our reports go beyond numbers and charts, offering expert interpretations and recommendations to steer your SEO strategy in the right direction.
  6. Navigating the SEO Landscape with Industry Expertise: Staying ahead in the ever-evolving SEO landscape requires constant learning and adaptability. SEO is a moving target. EWR Digital’s team of seasoned SEO experts possesses in-depth industry knowledge and actively stays abreast of the latest trends, algorithm updates, and best practices. This expertise allows us to fine-tune strategies and keep your website optimized for maximum visibility and impact.
  7. Building Success Stories, One Client at a Time: Our satisfied clients are a testament to our expertise and dedication. EWR Digital has partnered with businesses across various industries, helping them achieve significant improvements in organic rankings, website traffic, and conversions. We take pride in our success stories, and we’d be thrilled to share them with you to demonstrate our ability to deliver exceptional results.

Choosing the right SEO agency is pivotal for unlocking your website’s true potential. With EWR Digital as your trusted partner, you gain a unique blend of transparency, ethical excellence, innovative strategies, content optimization prowess, white-hat link building techniques, comprehensive reporting, industry expertise, and a proven track record of success. Don’t settle for mediocrity when SEO excellence is within reach. Contact EWR Digital today to embark on an extraordinary journey towards SEO success!

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