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. 

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