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.

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