As an SEO contractor takes on a project, they experience immediate pressure to show results. No matter how well they’ll try to communicate to their clients that “whitehat/textbook” practices take time, they will forever be judged by how fast Google ranking for their websites improved.
This pressure leads SEO companies to use aggressive and sometime questionable practices. Contractors use their own existing pool of web pages (some of the more questionable companies even use their other clients’ sites!) to seed backlinks to their newbie client’s website.
There are also SEO companies collaborating with one another to create a strong backlinking cooperation pool. The sophisticated companies will develop a cooperation that is dynamic and categorized by topics and relevancy, thus benefiting from stronger weight in the SE’s. This practice is called link farming. The search engines, recognizing this problematic practice that fill the Internet with bogus content and paid-for links, have vowed to fight the phenomena and punish the link-farmers. But the reality is that little has been done to successfully prevent the phenomena and it is still a prevalent tactic used by the SEOs looking for fast and dirty results for their clients.
While link-farming falls into the gray zone of SEO ethics, the following phenomena was recently brought to my attention and I see growing evidence of some SEO companies actually blackmailing their clients. It goes like this. A company asks to terminate their monthly retainer based SEO contract with Acme SEO Consultants. Acme, in turn, threatens their client to immediately replace all their existing backlinks with those of a new (competitor perhaps) client. Using dynamic engines, it will take them seconds to make the replacement and the ranking will be effected almost immediately. In many cases, the client actually paid for each of those links but probably without knowledge that they were on sites belonging to the SEO company!
If you are about to contract SEO services, there are two lessons to take from this post.
1. When contracting any SEO company, make sure your agency acts on your behalf and that you own access to every link.
2. The other lesson is to ask your SEO contractor to not deploy link farming practices but rather focus on long lasting tactics that bring real value to your website and your visitors.
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