I’m writing this article out of anger. Sheer unabridged anger. Let this serve as a shot across your bow if you are a “digital marketing agency” or “web professional” who HAS NO IDEA WHAT👏 YOU👏 ARE👏 DOING but feel like it is okay to take clients’ money anyway. We deal with this so often that we have coined a term for them, Terd (see below).
a person or agency parading around as a professional who actually knows nothing and screws their clients out of money, making it incredibly difficult for real professionals to gain the trust of these business owners.
Do you know what the hardest part of our job is at Kodeak? It’s cleaning up the horrible mess other “professionals” have made and undoing all the bad blood that has been created between business owners and real, honest, marketers and Tucson web designers or web developers. We spend a lot of time, too much time really, talking to people who have been completely burned by these terds who act like they are some sort of white knight that’s here to save business owners by throwing around terms that make them sound smart, promising incredible results like “I guarantee you’ll be on page 1”, only to take the client’s money, produce no tangible results, and then leave them high and dry. Roughly 80% of our existing clients have been screwed over by terds like this looking to make a quick buck or an “agency” that doesn’t mind ignoring the algorithm markers and constant changes put in play by search engines as long as the check clears. This. Is. Wrong.
I want to give you 4 things to look out for when you’re getting ready to hire a digital marketing professional for any sort of web work, be it marketing or design, development, etc. so you can avoid hiring a terd and stand a better chance of returning on your investment.
1. They don’t have their own website with validated reviews on it.
This would seem like a no-brainer but I cannot stress how many businesses opt to get in bed with total hacks. The situation usually revolves around the terd developer/ designer being referred by a third party, “a friend of a friend who does internet stuff”, or “they’re a real wiz on the web”, or “he/she is super techy and could do it for cheap”.
Remember, no matter how crunched for time or how tight your budget may be, the person who you trust your brand with is going to either A) expose your company for the quality you exude or B) expose your company for the lazy, hasty, research that landed you in this mess. You’ve probably heard the phrase “you get what you pay for”? Don’t ever forget it.
If your “web guy/gal” doesn’t know what an SSL is or its importance for your website, don’t do it. If they can’t explain the benefits of on-site SEO. Don’t do it. If they have no idea what the differences are between Wix, Square, and WordPress and why one is better for you than the other. DON’T DO IT. If they’re telling you they’ll build you a site in less than a week and for $1.17, DOOOOOONT DO IT. These are just a few red flags that should tell you that you need to do more research before picking your professional.
The bottom line is this; if you’re a web professional, “Why don’t you have a website Mr. Terd? (and it better have an SSL on it)” and, if you are as good as you say you are, “how come other people haven’t praised you for it, Mr. Terd?”
And for the business owner, I get it. Sometimes you don’t have the time or the budget and it’s just what you can afford. A good company will take that into consideration and build you something viable that you can afford, will work with you on interest-free payments, or refer you to a REPUTABLE alternative. Don’t @ me bro.
2. Your SEO promises you #1 or fast rankings
Here’s the deal. No one knows exactly how the Google ranking algorithm works at any given time. It changes about 500 times a year with only a couple of core updates announced every year. We have to do extensive research, monitoring, and adjusting to stay ahead of the game.
You must also consider the number of keywords that your website can rank for. If you see some fancy parlor trick of them ranking a website in 6 days to page one, it is usually because the keyword has no volume and no one is competing for it. On top of that, the tactics that were used may have been from trying to manipulate the algorithm. Google will penalize you hard for these kinds of things by losing your rankings, your GMB listing, or getting your website blocked altogether.
Websites need backlinks to rank. That is how Google knows a new website exists. You might find someone getting websites to rank really quickly using a PBN.
It probably sounds something like this:
You: “So how will you improve my site’s search ranking Mr. Terd marketer?”
Terd: “We’re going to use our vast Private Blog Network to expand your site’s reach far beyond its current profile. This will expose your site to MILLIONS of new users who will visit your page and PRESTO! You’re ranking now!”
First of all….No. That’s not how it works. Well, that’s not how it works anymore. 5 or 6 years ago this was just starting to get phased out of real marketing and the reason is due to Google’s mission to provide their users (everybody) with the most succinct, real, and relevant sources of information. It’s not hard to grasp. If you’re a lawyer in Santa Monica who specializes in personal injury, what good is it to have your site back-linked from a site that is 100% solely about the benefits of Buddhism? Are you really thinking that someone is viewing that site and all of a sudden remembers “Oh yeah, I was in a car accident and could use a personal injury lawyer in Santa Monica”? I mean, really?! What are we doing here people? If it works and your site starts to rank, it won’t for long and may be subject to other penalties mentioned above. Any marketer who knows what they are doing knows these tactics aren’t viable anymore and should be avoided like the plague. Search engine optimization is a long game and takes time to get good rankings that will actually stick and be of value to you.
3. Check real marketing certifications like Google Partners.
Anyone can get ‘certified’ in some kind of digital marketing. Shoot, most rating sites for Tucson SEO or Web Design professionals will give you a badge by simply paying for one instead of earning it. Look closely at the type of certification or badge your potential professional is displaying. Specifically, if they are displaying a Google Partner Badge.
The Google Partner badge is not an easy one to obtain as an agency. We have worked really hard mastering our skills and proving to Google that we return on our clients’ spending with us time over time. Unfortunately, Google has no way of checking if a badge is real other than if the agency links it back to their Google Partner profile. I know. Not that great of a verification system from the guys essentially leading the charge in online verifications.
Think of this though, why wouldn’t an agency link to their Google profile? I mean the badge takes over a year to get and just as much work to keep. Hours of studying up and testing to get certified on the latest, always changing algorithms and tools. All while managing tens of thousands of dollars in marketing campaigns each month and improving campaign performance each step of the way. I’m proud of that! Any self-respecting agency should be. So if you click on that badge and nothing happens, I am only left to assume that they are lying terds and you should bounce the site and keep looking elsewhere.
4. Look out for any “digital marketer” who immediately steers you into a marketing strategy.
Really, this statement goes for anyone suggesting any kind of solution before knowing your problem or goals. Every marketing campaign should be goal-oriented. How else can you measure its success and ROI?
You: “Hello mister/missus marketer. I need more website traffic”.
Terd: “No problem! Let’s set up a social media marketing campaign. It’s the cheapest way to get more website traffic!”
Though this statement isn’t incorrect, it likely isn’t the best solution to their problem, just the one that this terd is most familiar with or because Gary Vee said so. WHY do you think you need more website traffic? Do you want more sales? More leads? Want to build your email list? Looking for more followers? After getting to the bottom of your actual goal, if there isn’t a follow-up involving analytic data and/or keyword/competitor research to help project the success of your campaign, you may raise your eyebrow at this point.
Above all else, and this should go without saying by now, don’t hire a terd. Please, don’t hire a terd. We work very hard to do right by our clients, and even people who aren’t our clients, just people looking for some guidance. It is genuinely sad to see good people lose money to the terds of the world and it’s incredibly frustrating to have to explain to the burned client what happened. We have a very simple question we ask ourselves BEFORE we meet a prospective client. “Will this return on their investment with us?”. Here’s the difference between our company and the terds out there. If the answer is “No”, we don’t take the job and we are upfront about why we aren’t taking the job. As any terd will tell you, there are a lot of opportunities to make money in the digital marketing/ design/ development space. What they won’t tell you is that the work is incredibly hard. It takes time to do it right and, more importantly, it takes real honest effort to make something special. As stated in the opening. If you’re a terd, we are coming after you. We are going to expose you for the hack you are and God willing you won’t ruin someone else’s web presence. “I didn’t know” is not an excuse. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you shouldn’t be taking people’s money. You’ve been warned.
Don’t get me wrong, everyone has the right to start a business and run it however they see fit. That is certainly not what I’m railing against, here again, don’t @ me with that crapola. I’m writing about those “professionals” who start a business and don’t bother to do their homework. Those who call themselves professional but don’t have the slightest clue how to help a client but are happy to cash their check. They’re the kids in class who copy work all year and then fuck the test up because they have no idea what’s going on.
If you’re an agency that values your customers and produces quality work, thank you. I can’t tell you how happy we are when we find clients who have had good people working for them in the past. It makes our job easier and the client is usually more informed about the work being done. We’re fans of you. We want to succeed alongside you. If you’re an individual looking for a side hustle, be good at what you do, be educated in the services you offer, be honest with your clients, or be gone.
If you’re a business owner and you’re reading this as part of your due diligence in looking for a reputable agency, allow me to introduce….myself. I’m Tony, co-owner & operator of Kodeak Digital Media Experts. My partner Jared and I started a boutique agency in Tucson Arizona 7+ years ago that specializes in building effective marketing campaigns and beautiful websites. If you want to chat, we’re here to help. Even if you just want to verify what your current marketer/web designer is telling you, hit us up. Not everyone out there is a terd. In fact, it is a breath of fresh air when we can tell a business owner that their previous investments weren’t/aren’t a loss. Leave a comment below or click the chat option here. Or get your own FREE SEO website audit below and see for yourself.
*infographic stats from:
Databox : SEO Statistics
Neil Patel : 4 Things I’ve Learned from 2,000+ Google Ads Audits