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5 Red Flags That Should Turn You Off a Digital Marketing Agency

By Snap Agency July 28, 2017

When you’re looking for a digital marketing agency, you should be looking for red flags just as much as you should be looking for positive signs.

It can be difficult to decide on the positive qualities of an agency before you hire them, but it can be far easier to spot red flags that tell you to keep away.

In this article, we’ll be looking at five of the signs of a low-quality agency that is unlikely to do anything but harm your business and take your money.


You’ll often find that some agencies give guaranteed results or your money back. If someone promises you rankings that seem unrealistic, it’s probably because they are.

Put it this way, if they could guarantee you #1 rankings for any keyword, don’t you think the biggest brands in the world would be falling over themselves to give them money?

In the world of digital marketing, there are no guarantees; there are too many factors to consider and no SEO agency worth their salt would promise you rankings. Any agency that does is best avoided because they don’t have a solid understanding of how SEO works.

Cheap Prices

Digital marketing is an industry where you get what you pay for. There are very few exceptions, and if you’re paying less, then you can assume that shortcuts are being taken that will have an adverse impact on your results.

SEO, in particular, is a time-intensive activity that requires an employee to put in countless hours week after week. If you’re only being asked for a few hundred dollars, then you shouldn’t expect anything special.

Think of it this way, the agency has to employ people at $30 per hour, and they want to make $30 an hour on top of that. So, if you’re giving them $600 a month then at the most you can only expect 10 hours of work. How much can you realistically achieve in only 10 hours?

Those numbers don’t factor in the cost of the building they rent, their tech, any tools they subscribe to or any other employees that might be needed.

If the price is too good to be true, then it probably is.

PBN Links

Another red flag is when an agency is using PBN links to rank their client’s websites. Unfortunately, this can be hard to notice until it’s too late. If you have any doubt, then you should ask them to see example links or just ask them if they use any PBN links.

You’ll usually be able to tell if they are PBN sites because they will be low-quality, they will link out to a huge variety of unrelated websites, and they’ll have thin content.

These types of links can help your business to rank, but they also carry a significant risk that most local businesses will want to avoid. Instead, you want to hire an agency that is going to use outreach and content marketing tactics to get your business featured in industry relevant publications.

Quick Turnaround

Just as price and guarantees are a sign of an agency you want to avoid, companies promising lightning quick turnaround times suggests that they are using a cookie-cutter approach.

When in doubt it’s best to use a classic triangle method; Price, Quality, Speed. Now pick two. You can never have all three, especially when it comes to digital marketing.

You’ll find that agencies promising quick turnarounds will take massive shortcuts on their work, delivering you substandard work then will have little impact or could even harm your business.

As we mentioned already, digital marketing is labor intensive, and that can’t be rushed. If it’s being delivered quickly then it’s likely they are using tools to automate parts of their marketing process, this usually indicates low-quality spam link building or paid links. Both of these are against Googles guidelines and can cause a penalty.

Lack of Transparency

Finally, you’ll discover that many industries are opaque about their work. They might refuse to give you a report of the work that they have completed. Instead, they’ll give you a vague list of the types of links they’ve built but refuse to divulge the URLs.

This lack of transparency makes it difficult for you as a business owner to know what the agency is doing for your business. This is a dangerous situation to be in. Every company should be transparent with you about what they plan to do and should be proud to show you their work at the end of the period.

Fortunately, this can usually be spotted before you sign the contract. Ask to see some of the agencies past work or a list of exactly what they’ll be doing for your business. If they can’t explain their tactics and why those are the right choice, you know you’re dealing with an inexperienced agency.


While it’s important to choose a leading agency like ourselves, it’s just as important to avoid low-quality companies that will produce work that can harm your business.

We strive to push your business forward, and we only win if you win.