Why this digital marketer is supporting small businesses by standing up to “dodgy” SEO agencies

SmartCompany, Friday, May 12, 2017

A Melbourne-based digital marketer has pledged to “stand up” to dodgy search engine optimisation (SEO) companies and support small businesses, offering to audit business’ SEO practices for free to ensure it’s correctly done.

In a post on his LinkedIn profile yesterday, digital marketer Adam Jacobs called out “dirty SEO agencies” for ripping off “honest and hardworking people”.

“I’ve spoken to some of my whitehat search homies and we have decided to start auditing your SEO work for free!” Jacobs wrote.

“Dear business owners, if you would like someone to look at your SEO agencies work and let you know if it’s actually being done or know someone who would, then tag them in here or hit me up in the comments.”

Speaking to SmartCompany this morning, “SEO vigilante” Jacobs said he didn’t expect the post to garner the attention it has, with Mumbrella also reporting on the story. He says the offer is “not so much a service as advocacy”, saying he thought it would be “a bit of fun” to mess with dodgy SEO agencies.

“I was looking into online marketing services and finding businesses were paying large sums of money and not seeing any work be done,” he days.

“Some dodgy agencies are targeting SME owners who don’t know any better [and] that are being wooed by a guy on the phone to commit to 12-month contracts at an exorbitant amount.”

Jacobs, who is digital marketing manager for a business called Launch Digital, says many businesses then don’t see any results. He believes more often than not the SEO work is either not done, or done is a “very poor” way.

The service Jacobs is offering involves a free audit of business’ SEO work, checking things like backlinks and keywords and providing a report businesses can then take to agencies to prove their case.

While Jacobs worries that some believe the service is just self-promotion, he stresses he is not seeking payment and has no “ulterior motive”. In his LinkedIn post, Jacobs told business owners, “to be clear, I don’t want your SEO work either”.

“People are always assuming an ulterior motive, but we’re not approaching this from a business standpoint. My purpose is to expose dodgy agencies and have a bit of fun demonstrating a subject matter expertise,” he says.

“This is now an epidemic — some agencies out there don’t know digital marketing from their own feet. Not all agencies are bad, but this is about making a stand against the dodgys.”

Jacobs says a number of businesses have already taken him up on his offer and contacting him with concerns over their SEO. So far, he hasn’t come across any cases of incomplete work but has educated a number of businesses on why they may not be seeing results.

“Most of the people who have approached us so far, their work has been done, but just not to the quality they wanted,” he says.

Mumbrella reports Jacobs has teamed up with marketing company Adaptis GmbH to launch the campaign, but Jacobs says no partnership is in place.

“I don’t know anything about them, I think a bunch of people just jumped on board and seen it as a good business opportunity. I don’t know them or their CEO,” he says.

For businesses concerned with the quality of any SEO work, Jacobs advises there are a number of online tools that allow businesses to self-audit their SEO work. Additionally, just Googling the name of the agency that completed the work can reveal the experiences of other businesses.

“There’s a lot of SMEs getting caught out, and to some small businesses, money for SEO could be their entire marketing budget … Getting locked into a contract could be the difference between the business surviving or not,” he says.

“I’m not saying all agencies are dodgy, there’s a lot of good intentions, but there’s also a lot of businesses getting caught out.”

“If for nothing else I’m just trying to get businesses to understand the issues and do some due diligence.”