10 Warning Signs You're Doing Business with the Wrong Digital Agency
Does something seem off about your digital agency? Maybe you don’t believe in their ability to produce the website you’ve envisioned. Perhaps they contradict themselves or make promises that seem unattainable. You get that knot in your stomach and think, should I trust my gut and get out?
Most of the time, the answer is yes. When a situation feels off, it likely is and that alarm is your brain telling your body to tell you - something’s up! But most of us need a little more than a sign from our stomach to make a bold business move. We hear you, belly grumbles! Here are 10 warning signs that you’re doing business with the wrong digital agency:
1. Their Online Identity Doesn’t Match Their Promise
If a digital agency promises you a beautiful, functional website with unique branding and professional content, but their own online identity doesn’t reflect – raise the red flag!
Take the time to scout your digital agency and make sure what they promise is being delivered in their own practice before you hire them for yours. Check out their website, blog, news page and social media profiles. Does everything add up?
2. They Can’t Explain Their Process
Success isn’t random. It’s a process that has been forged over the fiery coals of trial and error until so refined – it works! If your digital agency can’t explain to you what that process is, they might not have one.
Ask about their step-by-step methodology. You’ll want to select a digital agency with a specific plan for your success.
3. They Don’t Include You in the Process
Creating your online identity can’t be done without the most important part – you! To reverberate your unique characteristics throughout the site design, function and content, a digital agency has much to learn about who your organization is and what it does.
Pay close attention to the type of questions your digital agency asks. When they describe their process for development, be sure you are included in critical checkpoints along the way. This is your investment and you should have final say on all major details.
4. They Don’t Have a Portfolio
Proof is everything. Be a smart shopper and ask to see a portfolio of your digital agency’s work. If they can’t provide one, move on. Either they have no experience or they aren’t able to back their word. Neither is good for you!
If they do provide a portfolio, take your time reviewing. Picture their style outfitting your brand. Is it a good fit?
5. They Don’t Have References
If you really want to dig for information on a digital agency, go directly to the source – their previous or current clients. Talk to the people that have already worked with the digital agency. Would they recommend the company to a friend or family member?
If the digital agency can’t provide references, they might be hiding something. Whether it’s a third eye or a bad work ethic – you don’t want to stick around to find out.
6. They Aren’t Responsive
When you choose to invest in the services of a digital agency, you are forming a partnership. Partnerships depend on trust and respect (thank you Dr. Phil). Ergo, if you aren’t receiving feedback on questions or concerns, you might not trust their intentions and you sure as heck aren’t feeling like a respected client.
Unless there is a zombie apocalypse or continental power-grid failure, your digital agency should reply to emails and return phone calls in a timely manner. Period.
7. They Give You Wrong Information
No. Inbound marketing doesn’t have a quick solution for success.
Yes. Internal and external linking is still important to your marketing.
No. SEO is not dead. It’s evolving.
Most importantly – there is NO page-ranking guarantee.
If a digital agency tells you otherwise, they’re blowing smoke! Do some fact checking of your own to make sure you’re getting the correct information. If they’re selling to you based on lies or embellishments, ditch them and find a trustworthy digital partner.
8. They Auto-Generate Your SEO Pages
If a digital agency says they will auto-generate your SEO pages, run! This practice is damaging to your relationship with target audiences and Google. Auto-generated SEO pages aren’t providing quality content to benefit visitors. What they are doing is re-purposing content and spitting the same old stuff back out.
Dr. Phil won’t like it, Google might slap you with a duplicate content penalty and your potential leads will think your brand is unauthentic, lazy and untrustworthy.
9. They Offer a Cheap Mobile Website Solution
of adults with cell phones surf the web on the go, and this number is only going to climb. Digital agencies will tell you that investing in a mobile site is essential, which is true. But if they promise a cheap solution, they don’t have your best interest in mind.
Cheap sites don’t consistently perform, aren’t convenient to work with and could leave your organization susceptible to security threats and other issues, meaning down time for your mobile presence.
Your digital agency is your trusted guide through all things digital. Offering a cheap website (mobile or not) is like pointing your organization down the dark and thorny path instead of the bright and sunny one. Beware…
10. They Participate in Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO is the use of aggressive SEO tactics that focus solely on search engines, not human experience. These tactics oppose search engine guidelines, rub Google the wrong way and make your brand look cheap and sleazy.
To protect yourself from these monstrous magicians, know what the most common black hat SEO techniques are:
Use of unrelated keywords to acquire page hits
Small text, hidden text or hidden links
Cloaking (presenting search engines and audiences with different content versions)
Doorway pages/gateway pages (keyword stuffing one page and redirecting traffic to another)
Page swapping (getting a web page indexed and then changing it)
Spam blogs (a.k.a. splogs)
Blog or comment spam
In other words, any activity that is not genuine!
Remember – you hold the power. In order to appropriately manage this power, you need to educate yourself. As you begin to discuss a partnership with a digital agency, come to the table with an understanding of the proper expectations to have. Know what questions to ask and make sure they are asking the right questions of you. If something doesn’t feel right about their pitch, trust your gut and move on. The beauty of today’s market is that there are many companies to choose from. Shop around and find a good fit. Select a digital agency
that plans to nourish your growth with a process for success that integrates your participation with their expertise.